Gukesh Interview: ‘A casual conversation with Magnus Carlsen was beneficial… arrived in Toronto to secure the Candidates’

Few analysts rated D Gukesh high on their tier-lists when he left India to go to Canada for the Candidates chess competition. As Magnus Carslen famously remarked, “It is impossible for Gukesh to win the Candidates.” He will undoubtedly win a few games, in my opinion, but he will also suffer some really tough losses. He won’t perform horribly, but I also don’t think he will perform exceptionally well. He’s not quite ready to take the risk just yet. He is more likely to experience a negative occurrence.

Carlsen made some very severe but understandable forecasts. After all, this year’s field of competitors was extremely talented and fiercely competitive for the top spot—the only position that counts in this specific high-stakes competition. Fabiano Caruana, ranked second, was participating in his fifth Candidates tournament after winning it once, Ian Nepomniachtchi, ranked third, was competing in his third Candidates event, and Hikaru Nakamura, ranked first, was among them.

However, Gukesh didn’t really care about things like reputations, experience, or what other people thought.

My sole goal in coming to Toronto was to win. Nothing more, Gukesh said from Toronto to The Indian Express. “I anticipated that this would be a difficult task. But I was aware that I would have every opportunity if I performed to the best of my abilities and followed all the correct procedures. I didn’t think I was any less capable… I didn’t think that the other candidates would have a worse chance than myself.

This was an incredible confidence to have in oneself for a seventeen-year-old who was about to take his career to new heights. The adolescent sensation from Chennai also caught attention for his unwavering demeanor during the competition, which even five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand found impressive.

Gukesh conveys the sense of being in control of his emotions, even though winning the Candidates must be an intense feeling for anyone.

I still don’t sense any kind of change as of now. I’m excited to be playing in the World Chess Championship after winning the Candidates. I am ecstatic. However, he acknowledged two days after being the youngest-ever competitor for the World Chess Championship, “I’m not really sure how different it was for me.”

Ask him how he manages to stay grounded and he says that he has a painstaking routine that he follows with complete discipline during big-ticket tournaments without any deviations.

“The main thing I focussed on in Toronto was being in the ideal mental state and just playing good chess. I’m extremely happy that I managed to achieve the (mental state I wanted),” he added.

What Gukesh learned about Candidates from Carlsen

Anand has guided Carlsen throughout his career, but he also had the opportunity to quiz Carlsen at the Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge in Germany prior to the Candidates.
In the last round, Carlsen disclosed that he had spoken with Gukesh briefly on the Candidates. Two things from that conversation were especially useful to the teenager.

“It was not like I asked him for advice. We were just talking in Germany and the topic of Candidates just came up. He asked me a couple of casual questions about the Candidates. Once the topic came up I started asking him about his experiences. I wanted to learn about a couple of things. I didn’t ask him for advice. He shared his experience from 2013, which is what I was hoping he would do.

He shared his general thoughts about the long duration of the tournament. It was a very casual chat. One of the things he said was don’t go crazy. Just hearing the thoughts of a great player like him was very nice for me. He was very friendly. Even though it was a light conversation, I found the few things he shared to be very useful. Even sharing his experiences was something that was very nice from him. He told me how tiring it can be and how it’s important to save your energy and not exhaust yourself in the first half.”

Gukesh remembered those points. He avoided taking needless chances. didn’t exert too much energy. And he was in a positive frame of mind going into the Candidates’ halfway rest day, even if he had lost to Alireza Firouzja in round 7.

“Of course I couldn’t be 100 percent sure till the very, very last moment (that I was going to win). I had the belief from the start, but the moment I really started to feel it was after the seventh round on the rest day. I just thought I was playing very, very good chess. And if I make some tiny modifications and I’m mentally in the right state (it could be done). On the rest day I was fully fresh and energetic. I just felt very good. I thought I was close to the level I wanted to achieve,” Gukesh said.

Also Read:

Leave a Comment