44th Chess Olympiad: Gukesh shows class in upset win
Young Indian Grandmaster D. Gukesh recorded his eighth successive win as India B thrashed star-studded US in a massive upset at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram on Saturday
The team — comprising four debutants Gukesh, Raunak Sadhwani, Nihal Sarin and R Praggnanandhaa — shocked the top-seeded US comfortably 3-1 in the open section eighth round encounter.
Extending his sensational unbeaten run at the prestigious tournament, the 16-year-old Gukesh upstaged the former World Championship challenger Fabiano Caruana in a critical game on the top board.
This was one of the most impressive debuts in the history of the Olympiad. Only the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik set a record of 8.5/9 in 1992, clocking a 2958 rating performance. Till the seventh round, Gukesh had clocked a 3300-plus performance.
Sadhwani also played brilliantly to defeat much higher-rated Leinier Perez Dominguez while Sarin and Praggnanandhaa held other strong opponents, Levon Aronian and Wesley So, respectively, with almost effortless ease.
“From the beginning we had all intention of figuring in the top-3 and with Gukesh going such great guns, it very much looks a possibility,” said a thrilled RB Ramesh, the coach of India B.
“Fabiano is my favourite player and it was a pleasure to be pitted against him. Initially, I was caught in the opening as it went along unfamiliar lines for me. After he played a dubious move, I got back into the game,” said Gukesh, who clinched the game on the 45th turn.
He finished with three extra pieces on the board which indicates his sheer dominance.
Many experts feel that 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. He has clearly been the best performer at this Olympiad. He has won all his eight games for India B, on the top board — that is, against some of the best players in the world.