GM Gukesh D: The New King of Indian Chess Overtakes Anand After 37 Years

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Gukesh D

For nearly four decades, the world of Indian chess had one unchanging constant – the legendary Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, who reigned supreme. However, the release of FIDE’s latest official rating list in September brought about a historic change in the Indian chess landscape. Anand’s successor has emerged in the form of 17-year-old prodigy Grandmaster Gukesh D, hailing from Anand’s hometown, Chennai. This is the beginning of the new era in the Indian Chess. In this blog post I’ll take you through the significance of this development and its implication on the chess community.

The Rise of GM Gukesh D

GM Gukesh D, the young chess sensation from Chennai, had already surpassed his mentor, Viswanathan Anand, in live ratings before September’s list was finalized. However, with the official release, Gukesh’s ascendancy was confirmed. He now stands as the new numero uno in Indian chess, dethroning Anand, who had held the position for an astonishing 37 years. Gukesh’s FIDE(Federation Internationale des Echecs) rating stands at an impressive 2758, placing him at the eighth position in the world rankings. In contrast, Anand, with a rating of 2754, now occupies a spot just below Gukesh on the global list.

Anand’s Illustrious Reign

Viswanathan Anand’s journey to the top of Indian chess began in January 1986 when he claimed India’s number-one spot with a rating of 2405, overtaking his rival International Master Dibyendu Barua. Anand’s career graph was continuously showing an upward movement. In 1987, he started a great legacy in Indian chess by becoming the India’s first Grandmaster. He was the FIDE World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2002 and had the clear title from 2007 until GM Magnus Carlsen beat him in 2013. Even at the age of 43, Anand’s dominance in Indian chess remained unbroken.

Close Calls and Challenges

During Anand’s impressive reign, there was only one instance when he appeared close to losing his official number-one spot. In March 2016, GM Pentala Harikrishna briefly claimed the title of India’s number-one on the live rating list, but his tenure was short-lived and did not make it to the official published list.

Anand’s Mentoring Role

In the lead-up to the ratings change, Anand expressed his thoughts about passing the torch to Gukesh in an interview with IM Tania Sachdev for the 2023 Julius Baer Generation Cup broadcast. Anand spoke proudly of the advice and suggestions he had offered to Gukesh, even though he wasn’t Gukesh’s official coach. Anand also humorously acknowledged the role of Gukesh’s long-suffering parents and coaches in his development.

A Long-Awaited Achievement for Gukesh

For Gukesh, becoming the top-rated Indian player has been a long-cherished dream. He became a Grandmaster in 2019 at the astonishingly young age of 12 years and seven months. In July, he achieved the distinction of being the youngest player in history to have a published rating above 2750. This milestone came after he defeated Anand in their first-ever tournament encounter during the Super United Rapid and Blitz Croatia 2023.

The Resurgence of Indian Chess

Beyond Gukesh’s success, the latest FIDE rating list highlights the resurgence of chess in India. Three other Indian chess players occupy positions in the world’s top 30: GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, who recently reached the top 20 for the first time, GM Vidit Gujrathi, and GM Arjun Erigaisi.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

GM Vidit Gujrathi

Arjun Erigaisi

All these players have collectively demonstrated the growing influence of India on the International Platform.

Global Chess Rankings

The global chess rankings also witnessed some notable changes. GM Fabiano Caruana gained points to surpass GM Hikaru Nakamura, securing the number-two spot behind Magnus Carlsen, who also saw a rating increase. GM Wesley So, on the other hand, experienced a drop in ranking.

Changing of the Guard in England’s Rankings

Notably, there was also a changing of the guard in England’s chess rankings, as Russian-born GM Nikita Vitiugov took the top spot after transferring his registration from the Chess Federation of Russia to the English Chess Federation. Vitiugov’s victory is simply an indication that chess is continuously growing game. Further, there are number of player who are working hard to reach the zenith of success in Chess.

To sum it up, I would like to state that with the ascent of GM Gukesh D as the new chess champion is a significant milestone in the history of Indian chess. After 37 years of Viswanathan Anand being the champion, a new generation is now in charge. As Gukesh and his contemporaries continue to excel on the global stage, India’s influence in the world of chess is set to grow even stronger. This shift in the legacy of chess in India is a signal that the younger players are now in control, and it proves that chess is still very much active and interesting. People who love chess all over the world will be closely following Gukesh and his friends as they decide where Indian chess is heading.

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