Gukesh, Erigaisi are very, very strong players: chess legend Viswanathan Anand

Legendary Viswanathan Anand believes that young Indian chess players are on the right track considering they are flicking the limelight on and off here and there. Teenage grandmasters R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi and others have had a stellar run in 2022, with victories over world champion Magnus Carlsen the feather on their caps. Commenting on Gukesh’s stunning win in 29 moves against Norwegian superstar Carlsen in the preliminary round of the ongoing online tournament Aimchess Rapid, the five-time world champion said it shows that players like him and Erigaisi are very strong and can play against anyone on the other side of the board .

“I think it just goes to show that Arjun and Gukesh are very, very strong players who can hold their own against anyone who is on the other side of the board. It’s also nice that they regularly play against the best players because that’s how you stop them,” Anand told PTI on Monday.

A day before Gukesh, Erigaisi had defeated world No. 1.

The Chennai chess legend praised Gukesh, saying he is someone who always plays fearlessly and never holds back.

“With Gukesh, he wins games, loses games, but he is struggling a lot to qualify. It was a tough fight. Gukesh, as always, played fearlessly. He never held back, kept the game very dynamic.

“He was worse but Magnus made a mistake and Gukesh’s tactical accuracy is very, very high and (he) jumped at it straight away.

“I have personal experience of that with Gukesh. Quite often I make a mistake and he lunges at it. He’s very alert. That’s one of Magnus’ abilities and it’s good that Gukesh is showing it and just telling me she (Gukesh and Erigaisi) are on the right track,” said Anand of the 16-year-old, who is the youngest GM in the country to claim the title in 2019 at the age of 12 years, 7 months and 17 days.

Gukesh, coached by Vishnu Prasanna, has been in excellent form this year and impressed with a great performance at the Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, near here, in July and August, winning a bronze medal for India-2 in the open section .

He seems to be continuing his good run and defeating Carlsen, his first ever against the Norwegian, could be the start of bigger things.

After scoring over world no.

“Because of Magnus’ skills, he’s a tough opponent to play against whether it’s online or offline. Both formats require different skill sets and I think it would be a fun encounter to play against him in the classic format.” Meanwhile, former women’s world champion Susan Polgar wrote in a tweet following Gukesh’s win over Carlsen: “All 3 teenagers @DGukesh @ArjunErigaisi @rpragchess have now defeated World Champion Magnus Carlsen! It’s only a matter of time before there is another Classic World Champion from India!” International champion and well-known trainer V Saravanan applauded Gukesh for beating Carlsen and said the youngsters (Gukesh, Erigaisi and Praggnanandhaa) are developing very steadily improved and such performances would allow them to play strong tournaments.

“These guys are improving very steadily. Beating Carlsen is kind of a clue… This is of course online (event) and rapid chess… But they still have to prove themselves in classic tournaments…” he added.

“It gives them a chance. I expect them (the young Indian players) to be able to have good breaks and play strong tournaments. All in all, we have a bright future,” said Saravanan.


He also seemed at odds with the notion that the once unbeatable Carlsen was on the wane. The Norwegian player has surprisingly suffered a number of losses in 2022, including to Indian aces Erigaisi, Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa.

“Carlsen is definitely not on the decline,” he said, brushing aside recent casualties. PTI SS AH AH

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