Exclusive: Conquering the World at 12- In Conversation with Gukesh D.
Gukesh D. is India's 60th and youngest Indian Grandmaster, also the second youngest in the world after Sergey Karjakin. The Tamil Nadu lad achieved his title in the country's most prestigious open GM event- the Delhi Open Category A Grandmasters Chess Tournament.
Though he missed the world record of being the youngest ever by the slightest of margins, missing out on his final norm at the Sunway Sitges in December, which would have made him achieve that status, he achieved glory at home.
In an extremely short span of time, the boy from Tamil Nadu has accomplished the most vital feat in a chess player's start to a full professional career. We didn't miss an opportunity to chat with the master on his recent feat. So, without wasting more time, let me begin with the questions.
Congratulations on becoming the world's second youngest GM. How do you feel right now?
Thanks for the wishes and support. I'm happy and satisfied.
Let's go back in time. How did it all begin for you?
I just got introduced to the game watching my parents play in their free time at home, but I got interested during summer camp chess course at our school at 6 and a half years of age.
Can you share some memories of your earliest days in the game and what has been your greatest highlight till date?
Though I have been steady, I always struggled to win age group championships. I got my first National Championship title in the under-11 category in Pune in 2017, which was satisfying.
Then, I followed it up with the Asian and world under-12 gold medals in 2018. Getting my IM and now GM titles were the highlights for me.
Now, coming back to the Grandmaster title. Can you share your journey to achieve this title? Who were the people who helped you along the way?
I got my 1st GM norm in the Bangkok open in April 2018, the 2nd one in the Serbian 'closed tournament' in December 2018, and the final one in the Delhi open in January 2019. I crossed the mandatory 2500 ELO rating in the Mumbai GM tournament in December 2018, thereby completing formalities for GM title.
I'm thankful to all my coaches from the beginning: Mr.Bhaskar sir, Mr. Vijayanand sir, GM. P.Karthikeyan sir, my current coach- GM Vishnuprasanna sir, and also Mr.Krishna Prasad sir, a sports mind trainer who has been helping me to stay calm and positive for the past one and a half years.
Velammal Vidyalaya school and Microsense networks have been supporting me in this journey and the ONGC scholarship in 2018 has all helped me financially. I am very grateful to all of them.
You have achieved the required rating and norms by playing back to back tournaments in the past year or two. How has this experience been? How did you prepare before, during, and after tournaments?
I work on all aspects of my game under the guidance of my coach before the tournament. During the events, I just prepare for my opponent and practice the relaxation techniques suggested by Mr. Krishna Prasad sir.
You missed becoming the world's youngest by the narrowest of margins, 17 days I believe. How do you feel about this? Did the thought of becoming the youngest ever have a burden on your mind when you played in the Sitges tournament?
It was slightly disappointing to miss out, but it didn't bother me much. I felt the pressure during the Sitges tournament in December 2018, especially in the last few rounds when I was close to the record. However, it was fine that I at least came that close.
Now that you have achieved the GM title, what are your next aims? Vishy Anand has suggested that you should take some time off to rest. Do you think that this something that's going to happen or are you already wondering about the next tournaments that you would play in?
I want to improve my game and rating. I'm glad to get wishes from Vishy Anand sir, but we had already registered for the Gibraltar Masters, which is a very strong event starting from the 22nd of January. So, as of now, I want to continue playing, but I will take rest in between for sure.
What can you say about the rise of Indian chess? The world's highest ranked sub-junior players are from the country including yourself. How do you see this progress of the sport in India?
It's good to be competitive and it pushes us hard to train and improve further to stay on top, and it's going to help us.
In your free time, do you like to pursue any hobbies/activities?
Yeah. I just like to play badminton and cricket and watch movies and comedy clips in my free time.
Finally, any closing thoughts that you would like to share with us?
Thanks for all your support and blessings that motivates me to do to do better and bring laurels to myself and the country.