Many more moves remain to be made at the 44th Chess Olympiad, but it is unlikely anyone will shake it more than D. Gukesh already has.
He is having a remarkable run. He has won all his eight games for India 2, on the top board — that is, against some of the best players in the world.
He is just 16. And he is doing it at a venue not far from his hometown, Chennai. He could not have chosen a bigger stage than the Olympiad to announce his arrival as a potential superstar of world chess, or better venue than this, for that matter.
He has clearly been the best performer at this Olympiad. Before squaring up against his biggest rival here yet, Fabiano Caruana of the United States on Saturday, he had put up some mighty impressive performances in the last few rounds, against higher-rated players like Alexei Shirov of Spain and Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia.
He won against the American, too. Shortly after his victory, he said Caruana was one of his favourite players.
The statistics would also give you a fair idea of how dominant Gukesh has been. His performance rating at the end of the seventh round was a whopping 3335.
He is spearheading the strong challenge from India 2 for a team medal. He is leading the race for the individual gold on the top board, too. “Anything is possible with the way Gukesh is playing,” coach R.B. Ramesh said.
Grandmaster Pravin Thipsay thinks if Gukesh continues to show the kind of progress he has of late, he could mount a challenge for the World title within a few years.
“What he is doing here is incredible, the kind of which I have never seen before at the Chess Olympiad,” the veteran of seven Olympiads and head of the Indian delegation here, told The Hindu. “I was impressed by his games. He has been nearly flawless. And we shouldn’t forget that it is in classical chess that he is doing this, not in rapid or blitz, or online for that matter.”
Pravin believes the rapid strides Gukesh is making will inspire the other hugely talented Indian teenagers, like Arjun Erigaisi, R. Praggnanandhaa and Nihal Sarin. They are all playing here.
They have all had significant successes on the global stage in recent times, but Gukesh has become the first among them to touch the magical 2700 Elo points. He is the fourth youngest in the world to achieve the feat, after Wei Yi, Magnus Carlsen and Alireza Firouzja, and the only sixth Indian, after Viswanathan Anand, Krishnan Sasikiran, Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi and B. Adhiban.