CHENNAI: ‘The poster boy of chess’ in India is a title that is worthy of many contenders. In a country with a plethora of grandmasters, most very much in their early years, D Gukesh is one of them. His record speaks for itself. He is the third youngest grandmaster in history and is the 19th-ranked player in the world. Not to mention that he currently ranks 2nd in the junior category. And he’s only 17.
Prepping himself for the Global Chess League which is happening in Dubai from June 21, Gukesh will be representing the SG Alpine Warriors. What's more, he will be playing alongside the likes of Magnus Carlsen and Elizabeth Pahtz. Beaming with excitement, Gukesh is looking forward to playing alongside his fellow Indians Arjun Erigaisai and Praggnananandha. “With Magnus in the team, it’s a huge honour. And it’s a comfortable feeling knowing one board is taken care of. Irina and Elizabeth are also great players, and I think we have a really strong team,” Gukesh told this daily.
In a career with a long list of achievements and accolades, Gukesh rates his performance at the 2022 Chess Olympiad as the one that stands out, when he won eight straight games. “Winning eight games out of eight is truly remarkable, and for this reason, the Chess Olympiad has definitely been the most memorable performance of my career so far,” he said. One must also note that Gukesh was awarded a gold medal for this staggering performance, losing only 2 games out of 11.
With Chess being a game that is all about mastering the mind, it is one of the toughest sports out there. This reflects in his routine, and Gukesh believes being a chess player is challenging, with 24x7 practice required 24x7. “In general, chess players spend their whole day playing chess. For me, from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I only play chess. Barring a few breaks when I read and listen to music, I do nothing but chess-related things.”
He also stressed on the importance of mental health, and how, if one wants to be successful, their mental health has to be taken care of and protected, much like the king piece on a chess board. “Mental health is extremely important, meditation and mental health exercises are a must,” he added.
Every sports person has their highs and lows, and Gukesh opines that it’s his meditation that has ultimately helped him deal with losses and disappointments. “It’s always tough to deal with losses. A couple of years back, I was really bad at it. But now, thanks to my meditation and a few mental health exercises, I’m much better at it.”