Ilamparthi tests Gukesh!

by Sagar Shah
3/2/2023 – Gukesh is just 16 years old, already a full-blown top GM with a live rating of 2730, currently number 20 in the world. Ilamparthi, is a young talent, 13 years old, currently the world under-14 champion, and an IM rated 2423. Both Gukesh and Ilamparthi did really well in Dusseldorf at the WR Masters and Juniors respectively. It was time for some fun on our train journey from Dusseldorf to ChessBase in Hamburg. This article includes ten tough positions posed by Ilamparthi to Gukesh!

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After the WR Chess Masters I had planned to travel from Düsseldorf to Hamburg to meet my friends and colleagues at the ChessBase office. It is a three-hour train journey. At first I was going to travel alone. But soon I realized that 13-year-old Ilamparthi's next tournament is in Bad Wörishofen in Germany, from 3rd of March. So he had three days between the two events. I asked him if he would like to join me to Hamburg and stay in the ChessBase flat. The boy and his father gladly agreed. So from one, now we were now three. 

Just a day before the WR Masters came to an end, Gukesh's father Rajinikanth mentioned to me that Gukesh had been invited to receive the Asian Chess Federation's Player of the Year award in Dubai on March 1st, 2023. For this reason, he had to reschedule his flight from 27th of February to 28th February. I asked him if he would like to go to Dubai from Hamburg. He could spend a night at Frederic Friedel's home. Gukesh and his dad gladly agreed! So now we were five. 

On the morning of 27th, just after breakfast, I met the strong German GM and Anish Giri's second, Jan Gustafsson. He lives in Hamburg. He decided to join us on the 2.33 p.m. train from Düsseldorf to Hamburg! So now we were six!

India had two star performers at the WR Chess 2023 - Ilamparthi in the juniors won the classical event with 5.0/5 and the blitz event with 7.0/7. Gukesh finished second in the WR Masters with 5.5/9, unbeaten in a world class field. Now the two were going to sit together for three hours on the train. Although there is not such a huge age difference – just three years separate the two – in chess terms Ilamparthi is the growing young talent and Gukesh the well-established elite GM. I wanted to see how a chess conversation between them would look. So I asked Ilamparthi to prepare ten positions for Gukesh to solve blindfold.

It has to be mentioned that Gukesh had been playing with his friends – Vincent, Esipenko, Pragg and others, until 7 a.m., and had only had four hours of sleep. So he was definitely not at full steam. But when have these youngsters let anything come between them and finding the best moves! We got onto the train and made ourselves comfortable. Gukesh and Ilamparthi sat next to each other. I sat opposite them, filming the action. And the intense chess session began!

Ilamparthi had selected the positions and saved ten positions for Gukesh on his phone

Gukesh would rattle out the solutions, in front of my camera!

What I loved about this entire banter was how Ilamparthi was actually able to hold his own when discussing chess with Gukesh. While Gukesh was an absolute beast at solving, Ilamparthi was this cool and calm customer who always knew how to refute the wrong moves suggested. I recorded an amazing video of roughly around two hours!

But I am not going to publish it in this report! I am going to give you a chance to feel the same as Gukesh when Ilamparthi threw the positions at him. Below are the ten positions. Very soon I will publish the video, along with the answers! Some of the positions were found by Ilamparthi, some by his trainer Shyam Sundar, and some are from his training camp at the WR Chess tournament with GM Elizabeth Pähtz.

Ten positions that Ilamparthi prepared for Gukesh

You know that you can move the pieces on the diagrams below. But we have switched off the engines. You should try to solve them all on your own!


There were a number of positions where Ilamparthi would just say White to play. Was it to win, was it to draw? That was unclear. But it was done to make the test very much like a game, where you have no idea whether you have to win or draw!


Gukesh and his dad got off the train in Harburg, a southern district of Hamburg. There they were picked up by Frederic for a one night stay.

Rajnikant, Gukesh, Thomas (Friedel) and Frederic at breakfast next morning

In Hamburg the rest were given the key to the ChessBase flat by Pascal (and his daughter)

The next day we all got together in the ChessBase office

Gukesh recorded a video on his win over Praggnanandhaa at the WR Chess Masters for the next issue of ChessBase Magazine (CBM). Ilamparthi is recording a video for ChessBase Magazine (CBM) on his road to becoming World under-14 champion, and also a 60-minute Fritztrainer of a sideline of the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bd7!?)

Comments are switched on. Tell us what you think about the positions. And stay tuned for more updates on our adventures in Hamburg!

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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