Gukesh-Ding to clash in USA before world championship final

D Gukesh
D Gukesh (PC: FIDE_chess/X)

If things go as scheduled, D Gukesh will lock horns with Ding Liren before their World Chess Championship final, at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, USA, from August 18-29. It will be the only meeting between the challenger and the Chinese world champion before the final in November.

Sinquefield Cup is the concluding leg of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) comprising five events. It is the only event with a separate classical section along with rapid and blitz. The rest are either classical or rapid and blitz. Gukesh and R Praggnanandhaa are among the nine players taking part in GCT events this year. Ding is not among the nine. He will participate only in Sinquefield Cup as a wild card.

Gukesh has left for Poland for the first legto be played from May 7-12. The Candidates champion will return to India and leave for other tournaments next month. Only the elite are chosen for the GCT. This year’s field includes four players Gukesh faced in the Candidates meet in Toronto last month. The player turning 18 on May 29 became the youngest-ever winner of the competition.

Gukesh overtook Ding by the smallest of margins in the FIDE ranking list released in May. The Indian is ranked sixth in the world with 2763 Elo rating points. The reigning world champion is just one point behind at seventh. In the April list, Gukesh was ninth with 2743 and Ding fifth on 2762.

“It’s very even between the two,” Gukesh’s coach, GM Vishnu Prasanna told RevSportz. “Going by the points, the difference is not relevant. Gukesh has to work hard and play really well to create a gap between him and other top players. The next few tournaments will help him in his preparations for the world championship final.”

This is the first time that Gukesh has got a direct entry to the GCT. Ding was the overall winner in 2019. Every leg features at least one wild card entry. Other than Ding, this list for 2024 includes World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. Arjun Erigaisi and Vidit Gujrathi are the Indian wild cards. Arjun will be in action in the rapid and blitz in Poland. Vidit will also play the shorterformats, in Croatia.

AICF announces Rs 65 crore plan

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has announced an ambitious and grand action plan for the overall development of the game. This five-year plan comes with a budget of Rs 65 crore. This was approved at the federation’s general body meeting in Delhi on Friday evening. The AICF president, Nitin Narang unveiled the plan and is expected to rope in sponsors for bulk of the cost.

The plan includes a two-year assistance of Rs 25 lakh each for the top five players in the men’s and women’s sections according to their FIDE ratings and Rs 15 lakh for those from sixth to 10th. The top three in the junior sections from under-7 to under-19 will get two-year contracts of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000. Each of the 32 state bodies will receive Rs 40 lakh over a three-year period. 

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