FIDE Candidates 2024: Know your Indian players

Indian players participating in FIDE Candidates 2024
Indian players participating in FIDE Candidates 2024 (PC: X)

The FIDE Candidates and Women’s Candidates 2024 are scheduled to unfold in Toronto, Canada, spanning from April 3 to April 22. This landmark occasion will see for the first time both the Open and Women’s Candidates tournaments be held concurrently in the same location. Adding to the significance of the event is the unprecedented participation of five Indian players — three in the Open category and two in the Women’s category — setting a new record for the highest representation from India in this prestigious competition. R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh, Vidit Gujrathi, K. Humpy and R Vaishali make the Indian contingent at the Candidates Chess.

Historically, India’s representation in the Candidates Tournament has been modest, with only the legendary Viswanathan Anand making appearances between 1991 and 2014. However, the landscape is now dramatically altered, with five Indian players securing coveted spots in this year’s edition.

R Praggnanandhaa

At just 18 years of age, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, affectionately known as Pragg, enters the tournament as a favorite among Indian fans and the global chess community alike. Hailing from Chennai, Pragg’s meteoric rise in the chess world has been world class. With a FIDE rating of 2747, he stands as one of India’s brightest prospects for the World Championship contention.

Pragg’s fearless approach and tactical brilliance have earned him accolades on both domestic and international circuits. Notable victories include a commendable runner-up finish in the previous World Cup, where he surpassed all expectations by going toe-to-toe with reigning World champion Magnus Carlsen.

Under the guidance of esteemed coach Peter Svidler, Pragg’s game has reached new heights, with his opening repertoire and strategic depth impressing seasoned veterans and critics. Despite his youth, Pragg exudes confidence and maturity beyond his age.

Praggnanandhaa and D Gukesh
Praggnanandhaa and D Gukesh (PC: X)

D Gukesh

Seventeen-year-old D Gukesh, hailing from Chennai, is another rising star on the Indian chess scene, someone who is set to leave his mark on the Candidates Tournament. With a FIDE rating of 2747, Gukesh’s journey to the tournament has been marked by consistent success in the last couple of years.

Gukesh’s rise to prominence began in March 2021, when he burst onto the international stage with a string of impressive performances. His ability to stay calm in complex positions and seize opportunities has set him apart from his peers, earning him accolades and admiration from the global chess community.

Despite his youth, Gukesh possesses the resilience and maturity of a seasoned veteran, a trait that will serve him well in the gruelling rounds of the Candidates Tournament. With a clutch of titles and a dramatic rise in the FIDE ratings, Gukesh is a player to watch out for.

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Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit Gujrathi, a seasoned campaigner from Nasik, brings experience and stability to the Indian line-up at the Candidates Tournament. With a FIDE rating of 2722, Vidit’s journey is a symbol of steady progress.

Vidit’s triumph at the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss demonstrated his ability to excel in elite fields, positioning him as a dark horse in the upcoming tournament. Known for his openings and tactical sharpness, Vidit is poised to make his presence felt and challenge the top contenders.

As a fine ambassador of Indian chess and a widely followed figure on social media platforms, Vidit’s journey to the Candidates Tournament has been celebrated. He will have all the backings from chess lovers and his social media followers.

Koneru Humpy

Koneru Humpy, a veteran, enters the tournament as one of the most experienced contenders in the field. With a FIDE rating of 2625, Humpy’s journey to the Candidates Tournament highlights a cracking track record on the international stage.

Humpy’s credentials speak for themselves. She is a former World Championship runner-up and the 2019 World rapid champion, showcasing her ability to excel in high-pressure situations. With a keen understanding of the game’s nuances and a track record of success against top opponents, Humpy is poised to make a strong bid.

Vidit Gujrathi, Koneru Humpy and R Vaishali
Vidit Gujrathi, Koneru Humpy and R Vaishali (PC: X)

R Vaishali

At just 22 years of age, Vaishali, the elder sibling of Praggnanandhaa, represents the future of Indian chess and the promise of a new generation of talent. Hailing from Chennai, Vaishali’s journey to the Candidates Tournament has been about stepping out of his brother’s shadows and making a name for herself.

Vaishali’s recent successes, including victories over former world champions, showcase her potential to make a mark on the global stage. With a FIDE rating of 2460, Vaishali can surely surprise a few in the tournament.

As a surprise package in the field, Vaishali’s presence adds an element of unpredictability to the tournament. With a keen eye for tactics and a never-say-die attitude, Vaishali is ready to stay on the global stage and Candidates is just a start for her.

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