Gukesh receives gold medal, trophy for winning Candidates tourney in Canada

Toronto: As 17-year-old Indian teenager D Gukesh was formally handed the gold medal and trophy for winning the 2024 Candidates Tournament at the closing ceremony in Toronto, he was still coming to terms with becoming the youngest ever player to challenge for the chess world championship.

D Gukesh (right) and Tan Zhongyi , winner of the Women’s section, with their trophies at the closing ceremony of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Toronto, Canada, on Monday. (Michal Walusza/FIDE)

The victory in the Open category at the Candidates, held by the International Chess Federation or Fédération Internationale des Échecs or FIDE, was historic.Asked about whether he thought of the possibility of winning this tournament, he told the Hindustan Times, “Not completely but I look at like this, if I manage to stay in good spirits throughout the tournament, it could be possible.”

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Giving the accolades he has received after clinching the Candidates win, it was hardly surprising that he was still coming to grips with the reality, with little rest over Sunday night. “Not much, quite little (sleep) actually, I was very excited,” he said.

The last three rounds were what he considered the most challenging as he had realised there was a chance he could emerge atop the leaderboard, so it was in the concluding days “there were a lot of nerves” for him.

Gukesh, though, wasn’t the only Indian medalist at the Candidates. Koneru Humpy claimed a joint silver in the Women’s section along with China’s Lei Tingjie. The latter’s compatriot Tan Zhongyi emerged triumphant in that section. There were also words of praise from the organisers for Vaishali Rameshbabu, who finished the tournament with a flourish, winning five games in a row, a feat that had not been accomplished at this level earlier.

Joint silvers in the Open section were awarded to Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi, playing under the FIDE flag, and American Hikaru Nakamura, who was Gukesh’s rival in the final round of the tournament.

Toronto turned out to be special for Gukesh and he will be carrying back a little bit of it with him, as the trophies for the tournament were sustainably crafted from reclaimed wood from city trees.

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