Top juniors in 2022: Gukesh

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/6/2023 – The new generation of chess stars is here, with no fewer than nine players aged 19 or younger rated above 2650 at the time. In a 7-part series, we will look at the performances of the top juniors in 2022. Second in line is Dommaraju Gukesh, who has yet to turn 17 years old. For him, 2022 was a breakthrough year, as he became the third-youngest player in history to cross the 2700-rating mark, only to outdo himself a month later by winning eight games in a row at the Olympiad! | Photo: J. Suresh / The Week

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Eight out of eight

Dommaraju GukeshUnbelievably mature for his age, Dommaraju Gukesh had a tremendous 2022, especially in classical chess. The youngster from Chennai will turn 17 in May this year, but is already a force to be reckoned with at the highest level of the game. From his remarkable year, there are two — somewhat distant — places that will be dearly remembered by the prodigy in the future: Spain and Chennai.

Gukesh entered 2022 with a 2614 classical rating, having lost 7 rating points after a slightly underwhelming performance at the Grand Swiss in Riga. Beginning in March, though, things would take a dramatic turn for the better. Following three successful showings in India and Bangladesh, the youngster made his way to Spain where, in a bit over three months, he won four open tournaments in a row, without conceding a single defeat! Gukesh triumphed in La Roda, Menorca, Formentera and Gijón.

Changing gears from the challenging open circuits in the summer, Gukesh played the traditional closed tournament in Biel, now a triathlon made up of classical, rapid and blitz sections. At the Swiss town, the Indian scored 4/7 points, but more importantly, by beating Le Quang Liem in round 3, he became the third-youngest player in history to cross the magic threshold of 2700 Elo points. And this was only the prelude to his biggest success of the year!

After FIDE decided to move the Chess Olympiad from Moscow to Chennai, the Indian organizers did a magnificent job by putting together one of the most memorable Olympiads in recent memory. As the host country, they got to include multiple teams in the event, and they decided to field the young Gukesh as the board-1 representative in their second squad. Given the final results, it turned out to be a fateful decision, as India 2 ended up fighting for first place with an incredibly young team — and Gukesh was the star of the show.

Playing at home, the youngster strung eight wins in a row, including victories over Alexei Shirov, Gabriel Sargissian and Fabiano Caruana. Two draws and a very painful loss followed, but even that was enough for Gukesh’s team to grab bronze medals. The remarkable performance gained him 26.2 rating points and had the chess world talking non-stop about his potential to become a World Championship challenger in the (near) future.

With so much travelling to classical tournaments, Gukesh did not pay as much attention to rapid and blitz chess as some of his prodigious colleagues. Nonetheless, he did participate in the Aimchess Rapid online tournament, the eighth event of the 2022 Champions Chess Tour. In mid-October, the 16-year-old became the youngest-ever player to beat Magnus Carlsen during his reign as world champion. 

Gukesh, true to his nature, was critical of his play during the record-breaking game, as he noted: “Beating Magnus is always special, but I was not very proud of that game”. The prodigy’s level-headedness has been a noticeable feature since his early teens, which can be partially explained by the attitude shown by his parents — shortly after failing to break Sergey Karjakin’s record to become the youngest GM in history (the record would be later broken by Abhimanyu Mishra), this is what Rajinikanth, his father, told Sagar Shah in an interview:

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 if he has better things to target! Heartfelt thanks for all your support.

Indeed, he had better things to target. The sky is the limit for the young boy from Chennai!


Check out Gukesh’s technical prowess in Karsten Müller’s Endgame Magic Show


Dommaraju Gukesh

Full information at ratings.fide.com

Abdusattorov vs. Gukesh - Biel Festival 2022

 

Annotated by Thorsten Cmiel

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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