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Gukesh Gets Hero’s Welcome In Chennai On Indian Homecoming
Gukesh speaks to the press after his triumphant homecoming. Photo: Chennai Chess Club/Chess.com.

Gukesh Gets Hero’s Welcome In Chennai On Indian Homecoming

Colin_McGourty
| 72 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Gukesh Dommaraju arrived back in Chennai at 3 a.m. on Thursday morning and was instantly mobbed by camera crews, well-wishers, and 80 schoolchildren who had turned up to welcome back one of their own. The winner of the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournament commented, “I have full belief that I can beat him” of his world championship opponent GM Ding Liren, with the All Indian Chess Federation revealing plans to hold the match in India.

You know the feeling. You arrive back home after a long flight at an ungodly hour of the morning and, bleary-eyed, you just want to stumble home to bed as soon as possible. For 17-year-old Gukesh, however, arriving in Chennai Airport after a 13,000 kilometer trip from Toronto, Canada, via Dubai, UAE, that was no option. Here’s the moment the world chess championship challenger emerged to meet the waiting crowd!

He was accompanied by his father Rajinikanth, and soon reunited with his mother Padma.

This was one time when no one was stopping schoolchildren from staying up late—it’s not every day you get to greet a 17-year-old from your home city who has been catapulted to super-stardom.

Gukesh is everywhere! Photo: Chennai Chess Club/Chess.com.

Before he could leave the airport, Gukesh received garlands and was interviewed by the Indian media.


Chennai has yet another chess king to celebrate. Photo: Chennai Chess Club/Chess.com.

The Indian Express report that Gukesh said of the Candidates:

"It is a special achievement for me. I was in good shape throughout the tournament. Though the seventh round loss was a blow, I was able to get out of it as I was in a good frame of mind. From the beginning, I was fully confident that I could win the Candidates and it went accordingly with luck on my side."

Thoughts are already turning to the world championship match against Ding, with FIDE CEO Emil Sutovsky mentioning on X that it’s set to take place from November 20 to December 15. Will it be held in India?

All India Chess Federation Secretary Dev Patel commented, "We are open to discussion with FIDE, the apex chess body, and we are certain that the best world championship will be held in India," with Tamil Nadu (where Chennai is located), Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh mentioned as possible venues.

We are certain that the best world championship will be held in India.

—Dev Patel, AICF Secretary

A second world chess championship match in Chennai would be huge. Photo: Chennai Chess Club/Chess.com.

Another world championship match in Chennai, to follow the Anand-Carlsen match in 2013, looks like a distinct possibility, though Gukesh was quoted by The Hindu as saying he has no strong preference:

"I’m fine with playing anywhere. Obviously, it’ll be nice to play at home (Chennai). Wherever I play, the goal is to be focused and win the match." He added, “Liren is a strong player, but I have full belief that I can beat him. I will prepare well for him.”

Liren is a strong player, but I have full belief that I can beat him.

—Gukesh Dommaraju

There’s not long for Gukesh to enjoy life back in Chennai, since in less than two weeks, on May 8, he starts the 2024 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland in Warsaw.

The lineup in Warsaw. Image: Grand Chess Tour.

As you can see, his opponents will include world number-one Magnus Carlsen, as well as fellow Indian stars, GMs Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and Arjun Erigaisi.

Colin_McGourty
Colin McGourty

Colin McGourty led news at Chess24 from its launch until it merged with Chess.com a decade later. An amateur player, he got into chess writing when he set up the website Chess in Translation after previously studying Slavic languages and literature in St. Andrews, Odesa, Oxford, and Krakow.

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