Aimchess Rapid: Gukesh is the youngest ever to beat Carlsen, leading Duda


Indian youth continue to make a splash

The Indian new generation of elite chess players is unstoppable. Gukesh Dommaraju, Arjun Erigaisi, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and Nihal Sarin have taken over the news cycle with their amazing performances. We can expect to see them (the first two sooner or later) above the board at elite events. For them, given their young age, no ambition is too great as they can realistically aim for the world title in the years to come.

Just in the last two days, Arjun and Gukesh – who already have over 2700 players – have defeated the strongest player of this era for the first time in their careers. Arjun defeated Magnus Carlsen yesterday while Gukesh defeated the Norwegian in Round 9 of the Aimchess Rapid online tournament today. Additionally, Gukesh broke Pragg’s record as the youngest player to defeat Carlsen during his long tenure as world champion.

Back in February, Pragg defeated Carlsen in Round 8 of the Airthings Masters, the first tournament on the Champions Chess Tour. At the time, Pragg was 16 years, 6 months and 10 days old. Today Gukesh beat the world champion at the age of 16 years, 4 months and 20 days.

Gukesh Dommaraju, Magnus Carlsen

As a level-headed teenager, Gukesh criticized his game during the record game, noting, “Beating Magnus is always special, but I wasn’t very proud of that game.”

Carlsen had the upper hand in a double-edged position when a harmless-looking move turned the tables in the Indian’s favour.

Black is two pawns up, but still has to deal with White’s annoying infiltrated pieces – the rook on c7, the knight on f4 and the pawn on e6. As answer to 25.Rc7Carlsen was wrong 25…Re8 (25…Ng6 was the way to go).

The problem for Black is that White is strong now 26.Qb6, which threatens both Nd3, trapping the queen, and the Rxe7-Qe8+ combination seen in the game. Note that 25…Ng6 would have safely dealt with both threats, as the black knight attacks the knight on f4 from his new kingside post (see diagram below).

After the precise knight manoeuvre, Black would have retained his material advantage, with good chances of winning in the future. A fierce competitor, Carlsen was not at all happy when he realized he had made a crucial mistake.

The game went on for three more moves because it’s unbelievable how hopeless Black’s position has become after that one mistake.

That was the first game of the day. Gukesh continued to lose to Jan-Krzysztof Duda before ending the day with back-to-back wins over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Eric Hansen. For his part, Carlsen drew twice after that loss and defeated Nils Grandelius in round 12.

A more relaxed Carlsen later praised his young opponent:

Gukesh has been extremely impressive in classical chess lately. Perhaps that quick win wasn’t his proudest achievement, although it’s always nice to claim a win.

Going into the last three rounds of the tournament’s preliminary rounds, Duda leads the table with 25/36 points while Mamedyarov is in sole second place, two points behind. Half of the field leaves the competition after round 15. Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Richard Rapport, Anish Giri, David Anton, Vidit Gujrathi and Daniel Naroditsky – in positions 6-11 – will fight for the final qualifying spots on Monday.

Standing after round 12 (win = 3 pts; draw = 1 pt)

All games



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