Not surprised he has gone this far: Gukesh’s coach Vishnu Prasanna

Adds that they would focus on and try to improve his physical fitness, so that he can endure the long rounds

Published - August 11, 2022 08:15 pm IST - CHENNAI

Gukesh with his coach Vishnu Prasanna

Gukesh with his coach Vishnu Prasanna | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After his breathless performance in the recently-concluded Chess Olympiad, none might grudge Gukesh a break. But his coach Vishnu Prasanna on Thursday said that he’ll play the Turkish League beginning August 15.

Gukesh has always wanted to keep playing, and Prasanna has “never stopped him.” But he adds that his ward would hereafter not be playing as much as he used to. “There won’t be enough opens for him to play. Opens would not make sense after this. So, he would be playing in leagues and whatever invites he gets in the closed events.”

Speaking about the takeaways from the 16-year-old’s Olympiad showing, he said: “Happy with his precision and level of play. We would focus on and try to improve his physical fitness, so that he can endure the long rounds. Equalising better against (Fabiano) Caruana, and troubling (Shakhriyar) Mamedyarov more with white — both of these are fairly important. 

“I was very happy with his wins against (Alexei) Shirov and Caruana. He was very resourceful enough, even against Caruana!"

Prasanna, who's been coaching Gukesh since 2017, exclaimed the latter was “a lot disciplined and matured for an 11-year-old” when he first came to him. “I knew he was talented. But I couldn’t predict how far he would go. I’m not surprised that he has gone this far! He had a lot of positional sense, which young kids usually don’t have; they play for tricks."

He added that now Gukesh is more aggressive and "plays for dynamic positions." Gukesh is an avid reader, and Boris Gelfand's books are something that the master and pupil have discussed a lot.

On Gukesh and other contemporary Indian players breaching the 2700 Elo mark, he said: “He (Gukesh) had a series of wins (before the Olympiad). So, he has had that momentum and was importantly psychologically healthy to cross 2700.

“I think the approach — for how to get to the top — is a bit more clear now than like, say, ten years ago. Now, young players get easier access to top-level play. Most of these kids have actually played Magnus (Carlsen) in an online event or something like that!”

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