Gukesh D inches closer to securing a spot in the Candidates tournament after taking the lead as the sole leader at the Chennai Grand Masters 2023

Gukesh D claimed the lead in Chennai after five rounds by securing a victory against Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov while playing with the black pieces.

Gukesh D, the young Indian chess prodigy, has taken a significant step towards securing a place in next year’s Candidates tournament, emerging as the sole leader at the Chennai Grand Masters 2023 after securing consecutive victories. With back-to-back wins, he surpassed compatriot GM Pentala Harikrishna, moving into the top position after the completion of five rounds. Gukesh’s impressive performance in this tournament holds particular significance as it could play a crucial role in determining his eligibility for the prestigious Candidates tournament.

In a remarkable display on Tuesday, Gukesh secured a victory against Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov, playing with the black pieces. This triumph allowed him to surpass Harikrishna and claim the sole lead, positioning himself favorably for a potential spot in the Candidates tournament.

Earlier on Monday, Gukesh had defeated Russian grandmaster Alexandr Predke, joining Harikrishna as the joint leader with two and a half points. This victory marked a turning point for Gukesh, breaking a streak of three consecutive draws at the beginning of the tournament, which, notably, were against the top three seeds at the Chennai event.

While Gukesh’s exceptional performance has put him in contention for a coveted spot in the Candidates tournament, his compatriot Arjun Erigaisi, who is also participating in the Chennai event, currently sits in sixth place after a draw with veteran grandmaster Levon Aronian on Tuesday. Both Gukesh and Arjun are vying for a spot in the Candidates, with Arjun needing to secure an outright victory in the tournament.

Gukesh’s potential entry into the Candidates would mark a historic moment, as it would be the first time that three Indians participate in the elite eight-man field. Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi have already secured two spots at the Candidates, scheduled to take place in Toronto in April next year, where the challenger to Ding Liren in the next World Chess Championship will be determined.

In parallel to the Open Candidates event, the women’s Candidates tournament will also be held in Toronto, with India represented by Vaishali Rameshbabu. Koneru Humpy, the first Indian woman to become a grandmaster, is considered a strong contender to secure a spot via the FIDE ratings route.

Gukesh, who made history by surpassing Viswanathan Anand as the top-ranked Indian chess player, has faced mixed results in recent months. Despite a setback in the FIDE World Cup quarterfinal against Magnus Carlsen, he remains a formidable contender, especially after his outstanding performance at the Chennai Grand Masters 2023.

Also Read: Satwik-Chirag to get Khel Ratna Award in 2023


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