Indian Prodigy Gukesh Becomes Youngest-Ever Candidates Tournament Champion at 17

India's chess prodigy, Gukesh scripted history by becoming the youngest-ever champion of Candidates Tournament.

The Quint
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Candidates Tournament 2024: D Gukesh became the youngest-ever champion at 17.</p></div>
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Candidates Tournament 2024: D Gukesh became the youngest-ever champion at 17.

(Photo: FIDE)

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History was scripted in Canada’s Toronto in the early hours of Monday (22 April), per Indian time, as at only 17 years and 11 months, Chennai-born chess prodigy Dommaraju Gukesh became the youngest-ever player to win the Candidates Tournament.

Going into the last round of the tournament, Gukesh had the sole lead in the standings, with 8.5 points to his name. Yet, the task ahead of daunting, as he faced the world number three, United States of America’s Hikaru Nakamura in his fourteenth match. And that too, with black pieces.

However, in a 71-move battle, Gukesh, being extraordinarily calm as he always has been throughout this long tournament of fourteen rounds, held Nakamura to a draw.

The official confirmation of Gukesh being crowned champion was still a step away, as having finished with 9 points, he needed to hope that the game between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana ended in a draw.

It turned out to be a marathon – lasting 109 moves and having instances where it did seem that a result was plausible, especially with Caruana being in an advantageous position on multiple occasions. However, it ultimately ended in a draw.

By winning the Candidates Tournament, Gukesh has ensured he will compete in the 2024 World Chess Championship against the defending champion, China’s Ding Liren. Moreover, he became the youngest-ever Candidates Tournament champion, beating Garry Kasparov’s record, who was 20 years of age when he won this tournament in 1984. Gukesh is also only the second player from India to win this competition, after Viswanathan Anand.

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Youngest Candidates Tournament champions:

  • 2024 – D Gukesh (17 years, 11 months)

  • 1984 – Garry Kasparov (20 years, 11 months)

  • 2013 – Magnus Carlsen (22 years, 4 months)

  • 1959 – Mikhail Tal (22 years, 11 months)

  • 1974 – Anatoly Karpov (23 years, 5 months)

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