We are witnessing something extraordinary: Judit Polgar on D Gukesh

Credits – ( Judit Polgar X account)

As woman FIDE master and renowned chess photographer, Maria Emelianova has said, at 17 years of age, most teeangers struggle with “high-school trigonometry or an acne outbreak”. But D Gukesh is special and that’s why at 17 years of age, he is a Candidates chess champion.

In an exclusive interview for RevSportz, on Monday morning, Gukesh was asked if the achievement has sunk in yet. “Not fully,” said the young champion. It has been a monumental day for Indian sport, with Gukesh becoming the youngest-ever Candidates chess champion, earning the right to take on China’s Ding Liren in the world championship bout later this year.

Gukesh’s triumph has wowed chess fans and experts alike. Judit Polgar, arguably the greatest female chess player, has been following Gukesh’s journey for quite some time now. In an email interaction with RevSportz, she called the teen prodigy from Chennai a “trailblazer”. Excerpts:

On Gukesh’s triumph

We are all witnessing something extraordinary.

Gukesh has  still a lot to improve as he is not the one who knows the most about the game out of the eight participants. But he was the best prepared as a whole person for this immense challenge. He has been dedicated from a very small age, he was fully determined, and clearly had on his mind to become the youngest challenger for the title. He invested a lot to have good physical shape, and as much as his mental focus.
Gukesh has opened a new chapter in the history books by becoming the youngest challenger for the World Chess Championship. My deepest congratulations to him!
On following Gukesh’s chess journey
I had the pleasure to follow Gukesh at the Chennai Chess Olympiad, where I was the expert commentator. He was a trailblazer who won game after game. It was something really special. Then, last year at the Norway Chess, again I could watch him close up.

This Candidates 2024 is an amazing event, seeing the older and experienced generation clashing with the next generation of 17-20-year-olds. Amazing fighting spirit. I have never seen such an exciting event!


On Gukesh’s performance at the Candidates chess

Gukesh played very solid chess up to the last round. I see that his concentration and focus are outstanding. His dedication, good nerves and calmness. He had very tough games such as Game 2, where Praggnanadhaa caught him in home preparation. But he was strong in calculation and fighting spirit, and when he got a chance, he took it.

He is also very strong in his presence. Despite his age (17), sometimes, he makes decisions as a very mature and experienced player. He played very solid the whole event, even though he had also missed opportunities.

On Gukesh maintaining his focus

His focus was even stronger in the second-half of the event. He and his team’s decision in round 12 (against Nijat Abasov) was absolutely shocking. He played very unusually and risky in the opening, as he might have felt that he had to win to be in the race for first place.

He played fantastically and collected the full point as his opponent got lost in making some

‘not the best’ decisions. Game 13 (against Alireza Firouzja) was a big fight with not a very good opening, but in the middle-game, Gukesh could outplay his opponent and collect the full point, which made him the sole leader.

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