It is business as usual for Chennai boy D.Gukesh despite becoming the World's second youngest and India's youngest chess Grandmaster (GM) on Tuesday. He achieved the coveted feat at the age of 12 years, seven months and 17 days. The world's youngest chess GM record is currently held by Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, who won the coveted title at 12 years and seven months.
"Yes, I am happy. My goal for 2019 is to increase my rating to 2,650 from the current rating of 2,510," Gukesh, studying in Class 7 in Velammal Vidyalaya school in Chennai, told IANS over phone in a matter-of-fact tone.
With a score of seven points out of nine rounds in the tournament, Gukesh was busy preparing for the next round in a hotel room near the New Delhi railway station.
"My favourite chess players are late Bobby Fischer and V. Anand. My favourite opening while playing white is Reti opening," Gukesh said.
But his doctor parents - D. Rajinikanth and J. Padma Kumari - were very happy and relieved of the tension.
"I didn't sleep yesterday (Monday) night. Gukesh had missed the GM norm narrowly earlier," Rajinikanth told IANS.
"I was very tense about his getting the GM norm in the morning. But Gukesh was not much perturbed," Padma Kumari told IANS.
The world's youngest chess GM record is held by Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, who won the coveted title at 12 years and seven months.
"He will next play in the Gibraltar Masters later this month and it will be followed by Aeroflot Open Chess tournament in Moscow," Padma Kumari said about the path forward for Gukesh's rating goal.
For the doctor couple, life has been tough ever since Gukesh started to make his mark in the chess circuit.
"He plays in all the GM tournaments held in India and also in tournaments overseas. But playing in overseas tournaments is a very costly affair. We had even sold a piece of land to fund his chess pursuits," Rajinikanth said.
Queried about sponsors he said, "City based company Microsense is a sponsor. Similarly Velammal Vidyalaya's Correspondent M.V.M. Velmohan had also supported while ONGC gave him a scholarship."
Praising his wife Padma Kumari, working in a government hospital, for carrying on the family burden while he and Gukesh were on tour, Rajinikanth said during the initial days of overseas travel, they used to stay in a comfortable hotel.
"Now we look at cost effective options like sharing," he added.
"Gukesh is a calm boy. He is more of a positional player who calculates a lot and has a very high strategic sense," GM Vishnu Prasanna, the coach of India's latest chess sensation told IANS.
"Gukesh has patience and interest in chess, which are most important qualities. He has a good attitude and handles a loss in a mature manner," Prasanna said.
According to him, Gukesha's focus could be on the World Juniors and also to play in the open tournaments.
"Indian players (barring GM V. Anand) reach a stagnation level on touching a rating of 2,650. One has to see how Gukesh crosses that barrier. Further, there are about 10 players in India in the 10-14 age band with a rating similar to Gukesh. The challenge begins now, Prasanna added.
Be that as it may, Rajinikanth said Gukesh breathes and eats chess and spends several hours before a computer reading and analysing games.
"Before a game, Gukesh listens to spiritual music. He is trained by C. Krishna Prasad, a mind trainer for sportsmen, Rajinikanth added.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)