Gukesh: Attack like a Super Grandmaster - A review

by ChessBase
6/14/2023 – Dommaraju Gukesh, who just turned 17, is the youngest player among the Top 20 in the world ranking, and he continues to climb up the rating ladder. Those who are keen to learn something from his great chess talent can get invaluable lessons from the master himself in the FritzTrainer ‘Attack like a Super Grandmaster’. A review by Harald Wagner.

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By Harald Wagner

In its FritzTrainer series, ChessBase has for the first time published a tutorial that was not recorded in Hamburg but in faraway Mumbai. The video was produced together with ChessBase India.

The first thing that stuns the viewer in this FritzTrainer is, of course, the price: is the Indian prodigy really worth this extra price?

Dommaraju GukeshBut let’s take it one step at a time.

We find every conceivable combination for the spelling of the name and surname: Dommaraju Gukesh, Gukesh Domaraju, Gukesh D, D Gukesh, all mixed amusingly with and without commas — even the diminutive Guki is enjoying increasing popularity. And without really knowing it now, let’s go out on a limb and determine: Gukesh is the call name and Domamaraju is the family name, whereby Gukesh means virtuousness and Dommaraju inventiveness. Both attributes have a level of applicability to the protagonist.

We also know from an older SPIEGEL interview that Gukesh’s father, Rajini, quit his job as a doctor in 2016 to accompany his then only 10-year-old son from chess tournament to chess tournament around the world.

Without sponsors, the mother, Padma (pictured), earns the money for the expensive trips, no wonder if the first years of the child prodigy’s career are considered ‘hardship’ in retrospect.

And then, of course, the next thing that comes to mind is this scene that was the chess news par excellence last year: Gukesh loses a won position against Nodirbek Abdusattarov at the Olympiad in his own country, in his birthplace at that, and thus forfeits the gold medal for India 2.

Dommaraju Gukesh, Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Gukesh, stunned | Photo: Lennart Ootes / FIDE

An almost tragic moment, when Gukesh lets his time run out, since he cannot yet grasp what has just happened.

And today, just over half a year later? At that time, Gukesh had an Elo of 2684 and Nordirbek of 2688. Today, Gukesh with 2744 has overtaken Nordirbek’s 2725 in the live ratings list, so we cannot talk about a lasting trauma from that loss.

Now let’s get to the FritzTrainer: Gukesh recorded it together with Sagar Shah, with the latter doing the moderating. But the roles are not unequally distributed: Sagar Shah, who has cult status in India, extroverted, loud, in a bright blue and white shirt that could have been borrowed from Levon Aronian, sits next to Gukesh, with a white shirt and a dark jacket, speaking with a voice that is as reserved as it is restrained.

Sagar Shah, Dommaraju Gukesh

Sagar and Gukesh

Nevertheless, the two fit together well, because Sagar Shah manages to hand over to Gukesh and then really listens to what the youngster has to say. And he certainly has a lot to say, even if you have to turn up the volume a bit.

The core of the FritzTrainer consists of five games by Gukesh, mainly from 2022, each of which is split into three videos: the ‘prep’ phase, as they call it today, the initialisation of an attack against the king, and the combinatorial realisation phase.

This core forms more than three hours of the FritzTrainer’s more than six-hour running time.

Four of the five games selected were logically comprehensible to me, and the attacks developed from seizing the smallest chances that presented in the position.

Not the most profound example, but certainly the most aesthetically graceful:

Gukesh’s game against the German grandmaster Andreas Heimann, on the other hand, went far beyond my understanding of the game:

Here Gukesh pushed his pawn to h5-h4-h3, had his pawns captured on c6 and d5, and was able to keep Heimann so busy with the pressure against the squares f3 and g4 that he lost without making any obvious mistakes — only at the end he could have played better for once. I replayed the game several times with the engine. If I push the pawn to e3 in the Catalan, that cannot lead to an inevitable loss, can it?

Which brings us to the final topic. Rāhu is also the little king, the crown prince: Gukesh is often talked about as a future world champion, is he? What does he himself say on the FritzTrainer about how he was able to raise his playing strength to this level?

What stuck in my mind the most was the following: Gukesh says that if you practise and study arithmetic and basic tactical elements over and over again, you can see an improvement in yourself over the years that is clearly noticeable to you. He has been able to observe this in himself.

As far as Gukesh goes, we don’t really need to mention that there are nine videos on the FritzTrainer in which Sagar Shah and Gukesh introduce a positional problem that the reader is supposed to solve himself. The reader can play out another ten positions against Fritz online and the whole thing is rounded off by a series of model games by Gukesh himself, but all this has long been the FritzTrainer standard.

Whether we are holding the first FritzTrainer DVD of a future world champion in our virtual hands, however, is something we cannot answer.

In any case, it is clear that he will remain a super-GM of quiet tones.

So he celebrated his seventeenth birthday on 29 May at the Norway Chess supertournament in Stavanger in a very relaxed manner — by winning a blitz against Magnus Carlsen himself!

Magnus Carlsen, Dommaraju Gukesh

Attack like a Super Grandmaster

In this Fritztrainer: “Attack like a Super GM” with Gukesh we touch upon all aspects of his play, with special emphasis on how you can become a better attacking player.

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