There is no looking back for India’s prancing knight D Gukesh as he is continuously breaking new records and adding accolades to his name.
The 17-year-old Grandmaster from Chennai has not only entered the world’s top 10 in the live rating list (currently at Elo 2755.9) but has also surpassed the esteemed Vishy Anand’s Elo rating (currently at 2754), becoming India’s new No. 1 chess player.
In the second game of the two-game mini-match, Gukesh secured a victory against the local player Misratdin Iskandarov, advancing to the third round of the World Cup chess in Baku, Azerbaijan, which happens to be the birthplace of the former Soviet legend, Garry Kasparov.
Anand’s elite player live rating has been surpassed by an Indian player before. In 2016, P Harikrishna accomplished this by achieving a live rating of 2763.3, although this achievement wasn’t sustained for an extended duration.
Former seven-time national champion, Praveen Thipsay, commented, “This is an incredible accomplishment, arriving much earlier than anticipated. However, it’s important to consider that Anand maintained a position in the top 15 consistently from 1991 to 2016. Additionally, we should take into account that back in 1978, there were merely 12 players with ratings above 2600. Therefore, the present-day ratings of 2740 or 2750 are akin to the 2600 ratings of 1970 or 1978. Esteemed players like Fischer, Spassky, Botvinnik, Petrosian, Tal, and even Karpov at their zenith, might perpetually receive less recognition when viewed in light of today’s rating list.
The rise in the rating is one aspect. Another aspect is whether Gukesh possesses the readiness to secure victory in a high-level classical tournament based on his present skills and tournament experience. According to Thipsay, achieving this is “improbable at this point.” However, he also mentioned that “around a year from now,” Gukesh might transition into a different league – the League of Champions – where he could and should contend successfully.
Back in 1991, Anand emerged triumphant at the Regio Emilia tournament (then classified as category 18), where prominent figures like Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov participated. Conversely, Gukesh has yet to capture the national title, a feat made more challenging by the considerable increase in competition and the reduced probability of any individual player’s supremacy, owing to the influence of computer engines.
Since February 2020, Anand has participated in merely 21 matches but has managed to sustain his rating at 2755. On the other hand, Gukesh has engaged in over 350 classical games within this period. During the chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, Gukesh impressively secured eight consecutive wins. Just under two weeks, he achieved an Elo rating of 2750, setting a new record as the youngest ever (at 17 years, 2 months, and 3 days as of August 1, when the official rating list was published) to accomplish this milestone in classical chess, surpassing Magnus Carlsen’s record by two months.
At the time Anand entered the top 10 rankings, India lacked another Grandmaster to proudly mention. However, the current scenario is different, with over 80 Grandmasters hailing from India, including two of the youngest within the top 30 rankings.