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 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 is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.

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