Unbelievable Counterstrikes: Gukesh Wins 2023 JSCC

Unbelievable Counterstrikes: Gukesh Wins 2023 JSCC

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

In a final loaded with stunning tactical play and amazing counterstrikes, GM Gukesh D. defeated GM Raunak Sadhwani by a seven-point margin to become the 2023 Junior Speed Chess Champion.

Currently ranked number 13 in the world, Gukesh earned $21,582 total for his convincing performance, winning every single match against his fellow best juniors in the world by at least a six-point lead. 

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship on You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on

Live broadcast of the match, hosted by IMs David Pruess and Kostya Kavutskiy.

SmarterChess evaluated these competitors as closely matched, predicting Gukesh to win by just one point. Though Gukesh is significantly higher rated in classical chess, Raunak plays online speed chess much more frequently with a blitz rating over 100 points higher. 

Blitz 5|1: Gukesh-Raunak 4.5-4.5

Raunak grabbed the early lead, trapping Gukesh’s queen with just two seconds left on his clock in the first game. Can you find the sequence he played to shut the lights out for the enemy white queen?

Black to move and win.

Though Gukesh had a slow start, trailing by two points in the first three games, he evened the score in round five. The rest of the 5+1 was a very back-and-forth battle with the players trading victories, staying within a point of each other. In one such game, Gukesh accurately offered up a trade of two rooks for a queen to take control of the middlegame.

In game eight, Gukesh took the lead for the first time, winning the promotion race in the endgame.

In the final game of the segment, Raunak countered, winning on demand to tie the match.

Blitz 3|1: Gukesh-Raunak 6.5-2.5

The first half of the 3+1 portion was a lot like the previous one. The score hovered between equal and slightly in favor of either of the players. Raunak won game two with incredible, cold-blooded defense. Gukesh sacrificed all of his queenside pieces to gain a fierce kingside attack. Yet, Raunak eagerly mopped up material and used Gukesh's own pawns to shelter his king.

In some games, these highly competitive grandmasters seemed to each be playing brilliancies at the same time, leaving the result of the game a toss-up between who would have the last stroke of genius. 

The epitome of this occurred in game nine. In a wild King's Indian Defense, as Gukesh's forces circled the shelterless black king, Raunak discovered two brilliant moves in a row to accelerate his counterplay. Can you find them?

White to move.

As the battle raged on, Raunak promoted his passer to gain a second queen, yet Gukesh found a winning bishop maneuver that soon led to mate. 

After the match, Gukesh shared his thoughts on this game of beautiful madness: "Bh3 was quite a nice move, being down a queen and just threatening checkmate."

This incredible double-edged duel is our Game of the Day, with analysis by GM Rafael Leitao below.

At the halfway point, Gukesh took over the lead and began to grow it. In the last of the blitz games, Gukesh ignored recapturing Raunak's bishop to launch a vicious king hunt. 

This victory stretched his lead to a commanding four points as the players entered the last segment. 

Bullet 1|1: Gukesh-Raunak 6.5-3.5

At the start of the bullet, Raunak played with great verve and determination, winning the first two games and shrinking his opponent's lead to two points. 

Realizing that he was playing too defensively, Gukesh adjusted, returning to the attacking style that gave him the lead.

From that point on, the match was all Gukesh. His score continuously grew until his edge was insurmountable with the amount of time left on the match clock. Even once his victory was guaranteed, Gukesh kept showing high-quality chess, pressing for the most out of his games. 

In his interview, Gukesh shared about his comeback after trailing in the early games "At the start in time scrambles, I couldn't get my mind to think fast, and it was trouble warming up. Maybe I have to play a few games before the match starts and just go with the flow."

"I started with a loss, a draw, and then a loss, but I was still quite confident. It's a long match. There are so many games to play. I knew that I would get my chances, and I just have to find my flow. Once I did, it was quite smooth."

I knew that I would get my chances, and I just have to find my flow.

-Gukesh D.

Match Score


Junior Speed Chess Championship 2023 Bracket

The 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship (JSCC) is's top event for young players and features a $50,000 prize fund. The JSCC features the strongest online competition for the next generation of talented players and's signature Speed Chess Championship format. 

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NM Vanessa West

Vanessa West is a National Master, a chess teacher, and a writer for In 2017, they won the Chess Journalist of the Year award.

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