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Gukesh wins in Chennai, one step closer to Candidates

  • Dec 22, 2023
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The 17-year-old edged past compatriot Arjun Erigaisi on tie-breaks after both Indians finished on 4.5 points after the completion of the seventh and final roundIndian Grandmaster D Gukesh took a significant step towards earning a spot in the prestigious Candidates tournament next year by winning the Chennai Grand Masters 2023 chess tournament in Chennai on Thursday.Local boy Gukesh, 17, edged past compatriot Arjun Erigaisi on tie-breaks after both Indians finished on 4.5 points after the completion of the seventh and final round. Another Indian Grandmaster P Harikrishna, whom Gukesh drew with in the final round on Thursday, finished third on the leaderboard with 4 points.Going into the final round of the eight-player tournament, Gukesh needed only a draw in his clash with Harikrishna with black pieces. Erigaisi made things rather interesting by defeating Russian-born Hungarian Grandmaster Sanan Sjugirov in the final round. Gukesh and Erigaisi were equal on points and on par in terms of head-to-head but the former came out triumphant on the basis of a superior tie-break score.The tournament victory gives Gukesh — who in September this year had surpassed Viswanathan Anand as the top-ranked Indian player in the FIDE charts — a great chance of booking a seat in next year's Candidates tournament in Toronto in April through the FIDE Circuit route.With six of the eight spots already taken (including those by Indians R Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi), two remain up for grabs via the 2023 FIDE Circuit (for one player who achieves the highest results during the eligible tournaments in 2023) and the FIDE rating route. By winning the tournament in Chennai, Gukesh has put himself on top of the FIDE Circuit leaderboard and will be in a battle with Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri to finish on top with one more tournament to go.The FIDE Circuit ends with the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from December 26-30. Gukesh, though, was quoted as saying by chess.com after his tournament win that he was still "50-50" about participating in the World Rapid and Blitz.Gukesh remained unbeaten through the seven rounds in Chennai, notching up wins against Russian-born Serbian Grandmaster Alexandr Predke and Sjugirov in the fourth and fifth round, respectively, to go with the five draws. The win over Sjugirov with black pieces on Tuesday had put Gukesh in the sole lead."It was really good. I finally managed to enjoy myself in a tournament," Gukesh told chess.com. "Obviously, the last few months have been very stressful."Erigaisi had an impressively strong finish to the tournament (with three wins overall). He defeated Sjugirov on Thursday and Parham Maghsoodloo, the Iranian GM who was the top seed in Chennai, with black in the penultimate round. However, his opening-round defeat to compatriot Harikrishna proved to be the difference in the end. The 20-year-old Grandmaster needed to win this tournament to stand a chance of qualifying for the Candidates via FIDE Circuit.Harikrishna, the 37-year-old from Guntur, meanwhile also remained unbeaten with six draws that followed the win over Erigaisi. Top-seeded Maghsoodloo, another competitor who was in contention for the Candidates through a triumph in Chennai, could not quite live up to his billing and finished sixth with 3.5 points and a couple of defeats.ASlso Read: European Court of Justice rules FIFA, UEFA breached EU Law over Super League ban

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FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Event

  • Dec 27, 2023
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Because we love drama and I also believe all the players should have equal playing conditions. The personal lounge is not the issue here but the easy access to a computer in between the games is one serious inequity,” tweeted Vachier Lagrave. Even Kramnik, who is not competing at the event, but has been very vocal since starting his Twitter account recently, could not resist weighing in. Top grandmasters claimed Carlsen alone has been provided a private lounge for World Rapid and Blitz Championship at Samarkand by organisers. The current FIDE Rapid and Blitz Championship in Samarkand has become embroiled in controversy, as several participating grandmasters have expressed their dissatisfaction on social media, alleging preferential treatment given to former world champion Magnus Carlsen by FIDE.Prominent players such as Ian Nepomniachtchi, Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier Lagrave, and Pentala Harikrishna took to Twitter to express their concerns about Carlsen receiving additional facilities, including a private lounge between games. Former world champion Vladimir Kramnik also joined the voices criticizing FIDE for the perceived favoritism.It is learnt that Carlsen has been provided a private lounge since 2016 at every edition of the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz championship. Compared to the World Chess Championship, the World Rapid and Blitz event happens yearly. Players compete in multiple games in a day: in the open section players competed in five rounds on Day 1 (Tuesday) and will compete on four games each on Wednesday and Thursday. The blitz portion of the Championship will start from Saturday with players playing 12 games on Day 1 and nine rounds on the final day."Dear FIDE and organizers of the Championship! As it is known, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Is it fair to provide Magnus Carlsen with a personal lounge where he can rest and prepare for the game using a laptop, while nobody else has such an opportunity?" tweeted Russian grandmaster Nepomniachtchi, who had previously faced Magnus Carlsen in a World Chess Championship match in 2021 and lost.“Can’t be stressed more that everyone should play under the same conditions,” added US grandmaster Caruana, who also had lost a World Chess Championship battle against Carlsen in 2018."I agree with Yan, not that Magnus shouldn’t get such a space of course, but maybe at least few others must have a comfortable rest room to rest and prepare between rounds, very important in such a long and tiring event," the Russian tweeted.When asked about the controversy, Magnus Carlsen's father, Henrik, told a Norwegian channel that his son doesn’t have access to a laptop between games.However, the rising number of tweets from players forced FIDE to tweet a clarification."To make it clear, none of the participants of the Rapid and Blitz championship have been granted special conditions. Even if, in between rounds, any of the players has been provided access to external premises as per the invitation of FIDE officials, full fair play control has been provided. Furthermore, everyone is allowed to use their gadgets in between the rounds according to the rules," FIDE posted on X.Also Read: Gukesh wins in Chennai, one step closer to Candidates