CHENNAI: When his seven-year-old son took a sudden fancy to chess after watching a school tournament, D Rajinikanth, a Chennai-based ENT specialist, would have been forgiven for dismissing it as a passing fancy.
Five short years on, his son D Gukesh is now part of chess history. On Tuesday, he became a Grandmaster after achieving his third norm with a victory over Dinesh Kumar Sharma at the Delhi International Open Grandmasters Chess Tournament. At 12 years, 7 months and 17 days, Gukesh is the youngest Indian to get there. Only one player — Russian GM Sergey Karjakin who challenged Magnus Carlsen in 2016 — has got there faster in the history of the game.
Happy and satisfied was how Gukesh described his state of mind. “I was expecting the GM title since I was close to getting that norm in the last few events,” he said.
“I was confident that I could make it in Delhi. The field here was pretty strong as usual.” It is perhaps no surprise that Gukesh became a GM in record time — his precocious talent had been singled out by his coach at Velammal Vidyalaya, Melaynambakkam and his work ethic ensured his potential did not go to waste. However also part of the narrative are the sacrifices made by his parents. Rajinikanth is now more or less fully devoted to his son’s career.
Grandmaster seeks support for next move
Gukesh’s first GM norm came at the Bangkok Open in 2018, where he defeated Nigel Short. He followed it up by winning the round-robin tournament in Paracin, Serbia, where he got his second GM norm.
“A lot of hard work and preparation has gone behind this achievement. I like to thank my parents, coaches and my school administration for their support. Also, Microsense Networks helped me financially in 2018 for tournaments,’’ the 12-year old said.
However, Gukesh, who will next be seen in action at the Gibraltar Masters from the 22nd of this month is in need of sponsors to move ahead in the game. “Till mid-2018, my expenses were wholly covered by my parents. After my IM title in April my school and Microsense helped me financially. I need more support to get better exposure and play tournaments abroad in order to improve my ranking and also my game,’’ he said.
GM Vishnuprasanna is the one who coaches Gukesh at the moment. “Apart from Vishnuprasanna, Krishnaprasad who is a sports mind trainer helps me to stay positive. I practice regularly for at least four to five hours a day,” revealed the youngster.
Gukesh always looks calm and composed in action and has shown maturity beyond his age. “My coach says that strategic planning and patience are my strengths. Time management during games is one area I need to improve and I am working on it,” insisted the chess prodigy.