Historic day for 16-year-old D Gukes as he becomes youngest to stun world champion Magnus Carlsen

New York: Indian teenager Donnarumma Gukesh made chess history at Aimchess Rapid on Sunday night by becoming the youngest player to defeat Norway’s Magnus Carlsen as world champion.

The 16-year-old’s win was Carlsen’s second loss in two days against one of India’s new crop of talented teenagers on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. Carlsen fell on Saturday against 19-year-old Arjun Erigaisi.

“What a monumental day in history,” said international master Jovanka Houska. “It was just an amazing, amazing performance by Gukesh.”

The key moment in the game of round 9 was after Gukes played 25.Rc7 in a position that looked good for Carlsen. The champion’s response 25…Re8? turned out to be a blunder and after 26.Qb6! putting Carlsen’s queen at risk, Gukesh suddenly won.

Carlsen, playing from a log cabin in northern Sweden, spent five minutes contemplating his move after realizing his mistake. He was shaking his head, gesticulating and spinning in his chair. He was obviously angry with himself. A few moves later, he resigned.

International Master Lawrence Trent said: “The start actually went really well for Magnus and he was kind of buoyant. But this move came out of nowhere, it was literally completely unexpected. Speaking of Carlsen, Trent said: “He’s a guy who, let’s put it this way, doesn’t like to lose, so he’s going to have to regroup pretty quickly.”

Gukesh is 16 years, 4 months and 20 days old, while the previous record before Gukesh’s victory was R. Praggnanandhaa’s 39-move victory over Carlsen at the Airthings Masters in February. Prag, who did not participate in this event, was 16 years, 6 months and 10 days old.

Despite the win, Gukesh was not impressed with his own performance. “Obviously beating Magnus is always something special, but I wasn’t too proud of that game,” he said. However, he smiled when told he was the youngest player to beat Carlsen as world champion.

But as fate would have it, in the next game, Gukkes came right back down to earth after losing in 42 moves to flying Pole Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who finished the day on top of the leaderboard.

Meanwhile, in Round 11, Carlsen faced another child prodigy, 18-year-old Uzbek world sprint champion Nodirbek Abdusatorov, who had led the first two days. After a crazy game that IM Trent described as “alien chess”, it ended in a draw.

With a loss and two draws, it was not until the last game of the day that Carlsen managed to record his first win over Sweden’s Nils Grandelius. Carlsen, who finished with 21/36 points, is woefully out of shape by his own lofty standards.

On his losses to the young Indians, Carlsen said: “Prag is the only one I’ve lost to multiple times. As for Arjun and Gukesh: Arjun I usually won; Gukesh very similar. I think Gukesh has been extremely impressive in classical chess lately. Maybe that quick win wasn’t his proudest effort, although it’s always nice to win.”

Entering the final round, round 12 of 15 in the preliminary stage, Duda was three points ahead of the rest after three straight wins. That streak was ended by Abdusattorov and a draw against the Uzbek left Duda two points clear of the in-form Shahryar Mamedyarov on 25/36 points. Both Duda and Mamedyarov (23/36 points) are sure to reach the knockout stage in the event.

Heading into the final three rounds of Monday’s preliminary, the stage is set for a big battle to make the top eight and avoid the cut. Abdusatorov, Anish Giri, Richard Rapport, Daniel Naroditsky and Vidit Gujrati are right in the middle of the action.

The award-winning Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the world’s leading year-round chess circuit, reaches its penultimate tournament with Aimchess Rapid. The event features 16 players in the preliminary phase of each round before the field is whittled down to eight and the knockouts begin.

Aimchess Rapid is the last “Regular” tournament of the 2022 season with a prize pool of USD 150,000 before the final end-of-season event begins on November 14th.


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