Candidates chess 2024: Vidit Gujarathi (left) will take on Gukesh (second from left) in the opening clash at the Candidates. While,Viswanathan Anand will be commentating R. Praggnanandhaa (right) is the third Indian in the fray.

Gukesh’s Victory in Candidates Tournament Showcases India’s Rising Influence in World Chess

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Gukesh’s triumph in the Candidates tournament, earning him the distinction of the youngest contender ever for the World Chess Championships, marks a significant milestone in India’s burgeoning prominence on the global chess stage. This victory underscores a broader trend reflected in the latest FIDE rankings, highlighting India’s growing dominance across various categories in the sport.

In the FIDE rankings list for April 2024, India boasts five male players within the top 25, alongside three female players among the top 15. Notably, India’s dominance extends to the junior ranks, with an impressive seven Indian players among the top 20 juniors worldwide. This remarkable presence signifies India’s emergence as a formidable force in international chess, with one-third of the top 30 junior players hailing from the country.

The significance of Gukesh’s achievement extends beyond his individual success. His victory, coupled with India’s strong representation across the rankings, underscores the country’s steady ascent in the realm of chess. Even seasoned players like Humpy Koneru and rising talents like Vaishali have contributed to India’s success, further cementing its position as a chess powerhouse.

The evolution of India’s chess landscape can be attributed to a combination of factors. The widespread availability of cheap internet data packs and mobile chess apps has fueled grassroots participation, particularly in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Online coaching platforms have democratized access to training, enabling aspiring players to learn from top-tier coaches regardless of geographical barriers.

The post-pandemic surge in online tournaments has also played a pivotal role in demystifying elite competition, allowing Indian youngsters to test their skills against renowned grandmasters and former world champions. This exposure has not only honed their abilities but also instilled confidence in facing formidable opponents.

Moreover, the involvement of elite players-turned-coaches has been instrumental in nurturing the next generation of talent. Grandmasters like RB Ramesh, Vishnu Prasanna, and Srinath Narayanan have played pivotal roles in shaping the careers of budding prodigies, imparting invaluable knowledge and expertise.

The emergence of cash-rich, franchise-style tournaments, such as the Global Chess League, has further propelled India’s chess revolution. These platforms provide young talents like Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, and Arjun Erigaisi with opportunities to compete alongside legends like Magnus Carlsen, fostering a culture of camaraderie and mentorship.

With Gukesh’s historic feat, India’s chess movement has found a poster boy, symbolizing the nation’s growing prowess on the 64 squares. As Women Grandmaster Tania Sachdev aptly put it, “The future is here. It’s today.” Gukesh’s victory not only reaffirms India’s status as a rising force in world chess but also serves as a testament to the country’s unwavering commitment to excellence in the sport.

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