Karjakin's GM record still stands

by Sagar Shah
12/23/2018 – Two Indians pre-teeners came very close to breaking Sergey Karjakin's record of the youngest GM in history. Sergey made his final norm back in 2002 at the age of 12 years and 7 months. Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh were the boys that were within a hair of bettering that. Pragg missed the target by three months, and yesterday Gukesh, who had a realistic chance to complete his third GM norm at the Sunway Sitges International 2018, narrowly missed it. In the meantime 11-year-old Bharath Subramaniyam made his first IM norm. | All photos: Rupali Mullick

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It was quite an important day for the record keepers in chess. Gukesh who was on 5.0/8 at the Sunway Sitges International 2018 had a chance to break Karjakin's record of becoming the youngest GM in the world if things went his way. This is what the situation was before the ninth round.

Gukesh vs Demianjuk – with German super-talent Vincent Keymer on the neighbouring board

Gukesh's average opponents' rating in the event was 2438.11. Checking the FIDE handbook you realised that for this rating average he needed to score 6½/9. As he was on 5.0/8 to get his final nine-round GM norm. This was impossible, so he needed to win the ninth round against Alexander Demianjuk (2344) to get on 6.0/9, and then be drawn against a very strong player — rated at least 2567 — to get his average opponents' rating up to 2451. Then 7.0/10 would give him the GM norm.

So in order to break Karjakin's record and become the youngest GM of all time Gukesh needed the following to go his way:

  1. He needed to beat his 2344 rated opponent in round 9 with the black pieces;
  2. He needed to be paired with a 2567 or above Elo rated opponent in round ten;
  3. He needed to beat that opponent in round ten

Gukesh was not able to beat his ninth round opponent Alexander Demianjuk and after trying for a long time had to settle for a draw. With 5½/9 he has chances of breaking into 2500 if he wins his final round, but the GM norm is out of his grasp. This time and in this event. Here the critical game:

[Event "V Sunway Sitges Open 2018"] [Site "Sitges"] [Date "2018.12.22"] [Round "9"] [White "Demianjuk, Alexander"] [Black "Gukesh, D.."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2344"] [BlackElo "2466"] [PlyCount "140"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d3 Bg7 6. h3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Nd7 8. Be3 e5 9. O-O b6 10. Nh2 Nf8 11. f4 exf4 12. Bxf4 Ne6 13. Bg3 Nd4 14. Qd2 Be6 15. Nd1 Nb5 16. c3 O-O 17. Nf2 Qd7 18. Nfg4 Bxg4 19. Nxg4 f6 20. a4 Nd6 21. Rae1 Rad8 22. Qc2 h5 23. Nh2 Nf7 24. Rd1 Ng5 25. Nf3 Nxf3+ 26. Rxf3 Qe6 27. Rdf1 Rfe8 28. c4 Rf8 29. b3 Rf7 30. Be1 Bf8 31. Bc3 Be7 32. Qf2 Rdf8 33. Qg3 Kh7 34. Qf4 Bd6 35. e5 Bc7 36. g4 f5 37. gxh5 g5 38. Qe3 Re7 39. Kh1 f4 40. Qe4+ Qf5 41. h4 Qxe4 42. dxe4 Bxe5 43. hxg5 Bxc3 44. Rxc3 Rxe4 45. Rg3 Kg7 46. Rg4 a6 47. Rf3 b5 48. axb5 cxb5 49. cxb5 axb5 50. Kg2 Rd4 51. Kh3 c4 52. bxc4 bxc4 53. Kh4 Rf5 54. Ra3 Rd7 55. h6+ Kh7 56. Ra6 Rf8 57. g6+ Kg8 58. g7 Rc8 59. Rxf4 Rf7 60. Rxf7 Kxf7 61. Ra7+ Kg8 62. Ra6 c3 63. Kh5 Kf7 64. Ra7+ Kg8 65. Ra6 Kf7 66. Ra1 c2 67. Rf1+ Kg8 68. Rc1 Kh7 69. Kg5 Rc6 70. Kf5 Rxh6 1/2-1/2

Gukesh tried really hard, but in the end, he missed it by a whisker!

On the ChessBase India Facebook page Gukesh's father Rajinikanth wrote:

"It's been a fantastic year for Gukesh. Honestly at the start of 2018, if someone would have predicted and told me that at the year end he will be close to 2500 and completed his IM title and also has 2 GM norms in addition to Asian and World gold medals, I would have laughed it off. So it's that sort of miracle year. I am pretty happy with his efforts and results. Keep supporting him with all your blessings and prayers as I feel he wasn't destined for this record but who knows he has better things to target! Heartfelt thanks for all your support."

Another Indian super-talent: 11-year-old Bharath Subramaniyam completed an IM norm

Nihal Sarin played a fine game to beat his 2336-rated opponent

What it feels like not being able to beat a pint-sized GM: Adly Ahmed vs Praggnanandhaa

Read about chess prodigies and mini-GMs, with the latest list of youngest GMs

Watch the final round of the V Sunway Sitges Open 2018 on our Playchess server, with progress tables and PGN download of selected games, or visit the offical site

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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PatrickP PatrickP 12/25/2018 11:35
Doing it in 2002 is more impressive anyway.
Frederic Frederic 12/24/2018 07:21
I had the very young Sergey Karjakin and Nihal Sarin in my house (and many others) at a very young age. I never had the impression that they felt they were under pressure from the press reports regarding their performances. I may for some reason be oblivious to youthful suffering, resulting from public attention, or you guys may be making assumption that may not be universally justified. I will have Praggu (look at the picture above of him on his return to India after his GM norm success) staying with me in March or April, and I will make a point of asking him and his trainer. Gukesh will follow at some stage. I will then write an article with the conclusions I draw.
howardxue howardxue 12/24/2018 04:58
@Frederic I can remember that Garry Kasparov once famously said "One of the regrets I have in my life is my childhood. I regret that I never had it."
digupagal digupagal 12/24/2018 06:51

You are right logically, however you are not right practically, practically it does not take for a viewer like you much to just ignore these news stories since they are free! free! n free!, these are not paid news stories.

Alas when you decided to visit this site, you also admitted to the fact that the discretion of which news to publish, lies with the chessbase team and the discretion of choice of news to access lies with you.

So you see, nobody can be blamed.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 12/24/2018 05:50
it is 50 50 ..... there are ambitious, pushy parents no doubt, on the other hand, as Frederic pointed out, many of these prodigies simply love and win the game almost with an obsession!
turok turok 12/24/2018 02:18
@Frederic same thing here-I never accused anybody-I am sure they are ambitious and that is great-BUT I have been around chess my entire life-with children of my own as well as a chess coach of top players-my issue is the CHESS world is who puts the pressure with relentless articles-and while we are on the subject it is UP to the parents to make sure the kids are left alone-that is a fact. Lets also admit just like other top athletes who start at a young age the parents do have something to do with it for sure-but my entire point was let them play stop looking for the next Bobby Fischer or Magnus etc-burnout is huge in chess for young kids that is a fact-
chessgod0 chessgod0 12/23/2018 09:15
I can't help but notice that you replied to an argument that no one was really making.

"Why do you mechanically assume they are driven by over-ambitious parents and trainers?"

No one asserted this. What I said was that India has millions of kids playing chess and as such, there are an almost endless number of stories you can--and have--published on some kid who **almost** broke the record. After awhile, this ceases to be news. We're at the point--none of this is news. Talking about the 15th kid who almost broke a record isn't news.

And I don't buy that these kids are yearning for ceaseless online chess media coverage. Any child psychologist can tell you that this kind of attention can be every bit as harmful as helpful, depending on the child in question.

Ignore this all you want--it's the truth.
Frederic Frederic 12/23/2018 09:03
Have you guys considered that these kids may be naturally ambitious, eager to advance their skills, dying to climb the ratings list? Why do you mechanically assume they are driven by over-ambitious parents and trainers? I have known many top players at a very young age: Nigel Short, Peter Leko, Judit Polgar, Katerina Lagno, Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen, Nihal Sarin, Vincent Keymer, and others I am probably forgetting here. For none did I get the impression they were driven, all were forging ahead of their own accord. "Take the pressure off these kids and just let them play and enjoy chess." They are enjoying it tremendously, sometimes even obsessively. They enjoy the attention and everyone rooting for them to achieve more. People pitying them is less satisfying.
chessgod0 chessgod0 12/23/2018 07:09
@ turok

Completely agree.

The hype machine on these kids has been in overdrive for some reason--it's excessive and ridiculous. India has millions of kids playing chess so the number of stories like this are basically endless. As such, they don't constitute real news.

Take the pressure off these kids and just let them play and enjoy chess. If you do that, one of them will break the record and then you will have an actual news story to report.
turok turok 12/23/2018 06:43
why do we do this to these young kids-just let them play enjoy the game but no we have to put pressure on them to be the youngest by days or months-in the end it doesnt matter-let them be kids-