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10 reasons why Gukesh's triumph at FIDE Candidates 2024 is special

by Shahid Ahmed - 23/04/2024

Records were shattered and history was made at FIDE Candidates 2024. In fact, history was already made before the event began. Two Candidates events - Open and Women taking place simultaneously for the first time at the same hall. A brother-sister duo of R Praggnanandhaa and R Vaishali playing the Candidates for the first time. Highest number of Indians taking part. At the conclusion of the event, D Gukesh created a lot of records - youngest ever to win Candidates and become challenger to the World Championship. Second Indian ever to win the Candidates and become the Challenger. We found ten reasons about why Gukesh's triumph made things special. Photos by FIDE/Michal Walusza unless specified otherwise.

Humpy and Vaishali perform well at Women's Candidates

There are a lot of things happened at the FIDE Candidates Open and Women 2024. Some memorable and some forgettable. We chose ten reasons which made Gukesh's victory extra special.

FIDE Candidates 2024 Women and Open winners - Zhongyi Tan (CHN) and D Gukesh
The Dream becomes a reality - 17-year-old Gukesh wins FIDE Candidates 2024 | Video: ChessBase India
The rock solid pillar of support for Gukesh - Father Rajinikanth on his son winning the Candidates | Video: ChessBase India

1. Youngest ever to win a FIDE Candidates tournament

At the age of 17 years, D Gukesh became the youngest ever to win a FIDE Candidates. Last year on 1st September 2023, Gukesh became the first player in 37 years to become India no.1, a record which Vishy Anand held for nearly four decades. So it is fitting that Gukesh break another major record, something that will be very difficult to match, let alone break it.

Both Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and D Gukesh left it all on the board | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2. First Candidates to hold Open and Women's events simultaneously

The recently concluded FIDE Candidates was the first time when both Open and Women's Candidates took place for the first time at the same hall. It goes without saying that winning such a Candidates tournament will always be remembered in history for another reason.

Top 3 (L to R): 3rd Tingjie Lei (CHN), 2nd Koneru Humpy, 1st Zhongyi Tan, 1st D Gukesh, 2nd Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and 3rd Ian Nepomniachtchi
FIDE Candidates 2024 Closing Ceremony | Video: ChessBase India

3. Highest Indian and first ever brother-sister participation

Vishy Anand and Koneru Humpy were the only two Indians to qualify in the Candidates. However, this year, five Indians - three in Open and two in Women, earned their spots. When it comes to representing a country - India had the highest in Open with three players. In the Women's event, two players represented each China and India. It was also the first time that both brother and sister - R Praggnanandhaa and R Vaishali, playing at the same edition of Candidates tournament. They also played in the same hall, just different tournaments - Open and Women. The mathematical odds were certainly in India's favor. Gukesh's win and Humpy's second place finish is a testament to that.

Top 3 in Open: 3rd Ian Nepomniachtchi, 2nd Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and 1st D Gukesh

Top 3 in Women: 3rd Tingjie Lei (CHN), 2nd Koneru Humpy and 1st Zhongyi Tan (CHN)
Zhongyi Tan on dominating the Women's Candidates 2024 | Video: ChessBase India

4. How you deal with a loss is more important than the loss itself

"...if I had to pinpoint a moment where I felt this could be my moment was probably after the seventh game. After I lost to Firouzja. I was obviously quite upset after that but during the rest day I already felt so good, even though I just had a painful loss. I was feeling at my absolute best and I don't know, maybe this loss just gave me so much motivation. After the seventh round, I really started to feel at my absolute best." - D Gukesh answered a journalist at the press conference on when he felt like he could win this tournament.

It was Gukesh who is walking tall about to avenge his seventh round loss against Alireza Firouzja (FRA)

5. Strong support system

To be successful in anything, one needs to have a great support system. D Gukesh was surrounded by his father - Dr. Rajini Kanth, GM Grzegorz Gajewski (second) and Sandeep Singhal of Westbridge Capital (sponsor). Gukesh also mentioned that during the tournament he stays disconnected from the outside world. He stays focused on his game and preparation about it.

The Dream Team (L to R): Dr. Rajini Kanth (Father), D Gukesh, Grzegorz Gajewski (Second) and Sandeep Singhal of Westbridge Capital (Sponsor) | Photo: Sagar Shah
The main ingredient of Gukesh's success - GM Grzegorz Gajewski, Trainer | Video: ChessBase India

6. Seizing his final opportunity

D Gukesh did not qualify to the Candidates via FIDE World Cup 2023. Grand Swiss 2023 is a tournament he would like to forget. He was very close to gain the crucial points from 13th London Chess Classic 2023. However, it did not turn out to be enough. Then, our Cofounder and CEO brainstormed and put together Chennai Grand Masters 2023 which was sponsored and supported by the Tamil Nadu Government and Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and organized by MGD1, NODWIN Gaming and ChessBase India. It was announced on Vishy Anand's 54th birthday. Gukesh won that tournament and secured his place at the Candidates 2024. There were some permutations and combinations for World Rapid and Blitz 2024 but everything cancelled each other out. Gukesh's path to Toronto was not in any peril.

D Gukesh won Chennai Grand Masters, Arjun Erigaisi second and Pentala Harikrishna third | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Our CEO and Cofounder IM Sagar Shah congratulates Gukesh

7. When it comes to chess, GM Vishnu Prasanna understands Gukesh better than anyone

Whatever D Gukesh has achieved today, one man's contribution to Gukesh's growth in chess, history should always remember is - GM Vishnu Prasanna. When it comes to chess, Vishnu knows Gukesh better than anyone, Gukesh himself said it after winning Chennai Grand Masters 2023. Speaking of Vishnu, it would be remiss if I do not mention this sweet trivia - Vishnu scored 9/9 to win Olympiad Curtain Raiser Rapid Rating Open 2024. It took place at the same hall and on the same boards where 44th Chess Olympiad 2022 took place. We all know Gukesh scored eight straight wins at 44th Olympiad including a win over Fabiano Caruana (USA) and eventually winning an individual Gold on the top board and also a team Bronze medal for India 2 team.

After scoring a perfect 9/9 and playing for over nine hours, Vishnu with a smile on his face, agreed for an interview with us | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

D Gukesh and Vishnu with their families | Photo: Sagar Shah

8. Dream turned into reality

There was a dream to organize India's first Classical Super tournament in India. Rapid and Blitz super tournaments annually take place in the form of Tata Steel Chess India since 2018. However, there was a void in Classical Super tournament. Gukesh won Chennai Grand Masters on 21st December 2023. Exactly four months later on 21st April 2024, he won the FIDE Candidates 2024. What was very nice is that Gukesh's journey enabled India's first super tournament to happen.

The strongest ever classical super tournament of India was enabled thanks to Gukesh and Arjun Erigiaisi having a chance to qualify to the Candidates via FIDE circuit.

9. Humpy's second place finish

Despite a winless start of only 2.5/7 in the first half, Koneru Humpy bounced back like a warrior she is and scored an unbeaten 5/7 to finish second. We all know what an amazing legend she is. When a stalwart like Humpy hopes for your success, you can be rest assured that you are doing a lot of good things.

Koneru Humpy, Zhongyi Tan (CHN) and D Gukesh
The legend Koneru Humpy makes a fantastic comeback to finish second - FIDE Women's Candidates 2024 | Video: ChessBase India

10. Vaishali's epic comeback

After losing four games in-a-row especially at a tournament like Candidates, it is not easy to make a comeback. Not only GM Vaishali made a strong comeback, she won five games in-a-row. She has won a total of six games which is more than the champion, Zhongyi Tan and Koneru Humpy. She scored the same points 7.5/14 as the runner-up. Only due to tie-break, she was placed fourth. This was her debut at the Candidates. It goes without saying that she will only get better and stronger in her future appearances.

R Vaishali scores five wins in a row and finishes joint second in her first Candidates | Video: ChessBase India


Official site

Tournament Regulations: Open and Women

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