D Gukesh Takes Sole Lead in FIDE Candidates Tournament, Faces Nakamura in Final Round

17-year-old Indian chess prodigy D Gukesh leads the FIDE Candidates tournament, one win away from becoming the youngest player to challenge for the World Championship title.

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D Gukesh Takes Sole Lead in FIDE Candidates Tournament, Faces Nakamura in Final Round

D Gukesh Takes Sole Lead in FIDE Candidates Tournament, Faces Nakamura in Final Round

In the 2024 FIDE Candidates tournament in Toronto, 17-year-old Indian chess prodigy D Gukesh has taken the sole lead with 8.5 points after a scintillating victory over higher-rated Alireza Firouzja in the penultimate 13th round. Gukesh's co-leaders going into the round, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Hikaru Nakamura, played out a draw to stay half a point behind at 8 points. Fabiano Caruana also joined them in second place after defeating R. Praggnanandhaa.

Gukesh now has the opportunity to win the Candidates outright with a victory over Nakamura in the final round, where he will play with the black pieces. A win would make Gukesh the youngest ever to win the Candidates tournament and earn the right to challenge World Champion Ding Liren for the title. A draw could also be enough for Gukesh to secure the top spot if Caruana and Nepomniachtchi draw their game.

Why this matters: At just 17 years old, Gukesh is on the verge of making history as the youngest player to win the Candidates and challenge for the World Championship. His meteoric rise and success against elite competition has captivated the chess world and positioned him as a future superstar in the game.

Gukesh's compatriots, Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, are also competing in the event. In the women's section, Vaishali Rameshbabu has won four consecutive games to bounce back from a rough start, moving into a tie for third place with Koneru Humpy at 6.5 points. China's Tan Zhongyi leads the women's event with 9 points, with a draw in the final round likely sufficient for her to win and challenge Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun.

The final round pairings have been arranged in a way that a 3-way tie for first place is now impossible. The tournament will either have an outright winner or a 2-player tiebreaker on Monday. As Gukesh noted after his win against Firouzja, "I am very happy with my play today. I will give my best against Nakamura tomorrow and see what happens. It has been an incredible event."

Key Takeaways

  • 17-year-old Indian GM D Gukesh leads FIDE Candidates with 8.5/13 points.
  • Gukesh can win Candidates and challenge World Champion Ding Liren with a final-round win.
  • Praggnanandhaa, Gujrathi, and Vaishali also competing; Tan Zhongyi leads women's event.
  • Final round pairings ensure no 3-way tie, with outright winner or 2-player tiebreaker.
  • Gukesh happy with his play, will give his best against Nakamura in the final round.