In an interview with The New Indian Express a few days back, USA captain John Donaldson spoke highly of teenager D Gukesh, who is in Team B of the Indian contingent for the upcoming Chess Olympiad.
John believed Gukesh to be a lot more talented than most players of his age. Gukesh showcased his talent by reaching the magical 2700 in live ratings during the Biel GM Triathlon in Switzerland.
He came third in the three-format tournament securing 29.5 points (classical 15; rapid 7; blitz 7.5).
It (2700 mark) was a big milestone for the youngster. In the process, the 16-year-old had become the fourth-youngest player in the history of chess to achieve this feat after Wei Yi, Magnus Carlsen and Alireza Firouzja.
In an exclusive chat, Gukesh tells that crossing the 2700 mark was fine but still he had a long way to go. He draws inspiration from Ian Nepomniachtchi's emphatic victory in the Candidates and wants to do well for Team India. Excerpts:
On joining the 2700-club in the live rating
I am happy obviously though it was not my goal or something. Still a long way to go.
On third-place finish at Biel GM Triathlon
Overall the games and performance were satisfying but could have been a better finish than the 3rd place.
On playing three formats (classical, rapid & blitz) in one tournament
It was really nice to play all different formats against the same strong opponents over 10-12 days, but it was very tiring as well, especially towards the end which obviously influenced my slowing down in the end.
So, obviously need to work more on fitness and able to stay focussed for longer periods against elite players.
On Magnus Carlsen praising him after he hit the milestone (crossing 2700)
It was special that the world champion has followed me and it sort of inspires me to work hard to continue impressing.
On winning four titles in 2022, the reason behind that success
It was good to be able to win some events after losing out a few from close quarters. Whatever the results, my focus has been on training hard and implementing them over my next events irrespective of results.
On long-time trainer Vishnu Prasanna's influence
Very huge, in fact, he has been a great pillar of strength and has always encouraged me and I can depend on him for anything anytime.
On training at Viswanathan Anand's academy
WACA has been a boon at the right time in my career with professional guidance from the masters and legends to move to the next level and I'm very grateful to Anand sir.
On Chess Olympiad happening in Chennai
Thanks to AICF and TN government, we have this wonderful chance to play in my hometown and I'm really looking forward to this golden opportunity.
On expectations of the team
Personally, it's going to be a big learning experience and hope we can play to our potential and bring honours to the team and the nation.
On USA captain John's recognising his talent
I am glad to get recognised, but it's good that we have a healthy competition that keeps all of us motivated and helps us get better.
Other than that, I don't see or believe who is better than others as all of us have our own goals and skillsets.