CHENNAI: Grandmaster D Gukesh received a wildcard on Friday to participate in the upcoming FIDE World Cup in Sochi, an event which is scheduled to be held from July 10 to August 6. The 15-year-old from Chennai, who became the second youngest GM ever in 2019, had earlier narrowly missed out on qualification for the marquee event after losing against P Iniyan on tiebreak in the All India Chess Federation (AICF) qualifier last month. With only one player qualifying for the World Cup from the AICF event, Gukesh was understandably dejected until Friday when the confirmation came through of his wildcard entry.
There are four wildcard entries allowed for the World Cup, each of which is nominated by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) president. “The AICF must have recommended Gukesh’s name since he was joint-winner of the AICF qualifier and lost out only on tiebreak. The final decision is that of the FIDE president,” Gukesh’s father D Rajinikanth said.
Gukesh had prepared diligently for the AICF qualifier and had an excellent tournament barring the defeat to Iniyan. Once the event was over, he found it hard to come to terms with the fact he hadn’t made the cut for the marquee event. “I was very disappointed for a few days after the qualifier finished, but this has come as a new lease of life,” said Gukesh, who is currently playing the Champions Chess Tour.
While the competition will be extremely tough at the World Cup, Gukesh is excited about going to Russia and getting back to over-the-board chess. Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, Gukesh has played in only one such event: in Bangladesh in March this year when he was invited by its federation to take part in the local league.
With travel from India again opening up as a result of the Covid situation improving, Gukesh’s father isn’t too worried about them making the trip to Russia. According to him, it is important for the youngster to be taking part in these big events so that he can become a better chess player. “This is a crucial stage of his career and he has to go for such events. That is how he will grow in his career. The World Cup will give him huge exposure,” he said.