The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Gukesh Dommaraju

Gukesh Dommaraju
Photo: Maria Emelianova
Full name
Gukesh Dommaraju
May 29, 2006 (age 18)‎
Place of birth
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India



The player's full name is Gukesh Dommaraju and they confirmed to that they prefer to be called by their first name, Gukesh.

Indian GM Gukesh Dommaraju is a chess prodigy, the second-youngest grandmaster in history, and became the challenger to the 2024 FIDE World Championship on April 21, 2024 by winning the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournament with a score of 9/14. He is the youngest-ever Candidates winner (age 17) and will be the youngest challenger for the championship in history (age 18). A win in the World Championship against GM Ding Liren would make Gukesh by far the youngest classical world champion ever.

Gukesh is one of India’s brightest chess talents. He earned the GM title at 12 years, 7 months and 17 days of age—narrowly missing GM Sergey Karjakin’s record by 17 days. In July 2022, he achieved a live rating of 2700, the fourth-youngest player to ever do so. In September 2023, he was ranked eighth in the world and first in India—ending GM Viswanathan Anand's 37-year reign as India's top-rated player.

Winner of the 2023 FIDE Circuit, Gukesh earned his way into the 2024 Candidates Tournament, making him one of the youngest players ever in that stepping stone event to the world championship. 

Early Chess Career (2013-18)

Gukesh learned to play chess when he was seven years old. It’s rather late compared to other prodigies. For example, two of the most famous chess sensations in history, GMs Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen, both learned how when they were five years old. Some learn even earlier.

Nevertheless, Gukesh, who hails from Chennai, India—the same city as GM Viswanathan Anand—can partly thank his environment for thriving so early. He was introduced to chess by his school, which is part of the Velammal group of schools across Chennai responsible for talents like GMs Murali Karthikeyan, Aravindh Chithambaram and, most famously, Praggnanandhaa R. Gukesh’s first coach at the school, Mr. Bhaskar, helped the youngster become a FIDE-rated player within six months of learning the game.

Two years later, while being trained by Mr. Vijayanand, Gukesh found success at the international level. At the 2015 Asian School Chess Championships, he won the under-9 section and also earned the candidate master (CM) title. Gukesh topped his first major win with plenty of success in 2018. At the Asian Youth Chess Championships, he won five gold medals: under-12 individual classical, under-12 individual rapid and blitz, and under-12 team rapid and blitz. Even more important in the same year, Gukesh captured the under-12 title at the World Youth Championships with 10/11 points.

Gukesh at Sharjak Masters 2017
Gukesh at Sharjak Masters 2017. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Around this time, Gukesh was busy fulfilling IM norms as an 11-year-old. The first came at the First Friday tournament in Puchong, Malaysia, in October 2017, which took place weeks after he had started training with noted Indian GM Vishnu Prasanna (a longtime second of Indian GM Baskaran Adhiban). Gukesh’s second IM norm was at the Moscow Open in 2018. Finally, Gukesh gained his third and final IM norm on March 10, 2018, by scoring 7/9 at the Cappelle la Grande Open. He became an international master at 11 years, nine months and nine days old.

Almost immediately, Gukesh started working on his quest to become the youngest grandmaster in history. In April 2018, after winning the Asian under-12 youth title, he earned his first GM norm at the Bangkok Open. Good luck was on the prodigy’s side, as Gukesh beat GM Nigel Short in the tournament simply because Short forgot to press his clock in a superior position. His second GM norm came at the Orbis 2 GM event when Gukesh scored 7.5/9 points and gained 21 rating points. Although he had a chance to get his final GM norm at the Sunway Sitges Chess Festival in December 2018—which would have made him the youngest grandmaster in history—he drew his must-win, ninth-round game, missing the norm by half a point.

Gukesh vs Nigel Short at the Bangkok Open
Gukesh vs. Short at the Bangkok Open. Photo: Peter Long/Bangkok Chess Club.

“I was disappointed for two days,” Gukesh told ESPN. “Then I moved on.” His coach helped him gain perspective on the failed record-setting attempt. “I tried to not get him too attached to chasing the GM title,” Prasanna said. “I told him it won't be the greatest-ever achievement there is, and that there are many around us who have achieved far more challenging goals.”

Second-youngest Grandmaster In History (2019)

On January 15, 2019, Gukesh became the second-youngest chess grandmaster in history by scoring his third GM norm at the 17th Delhi International Grandmaster Open. He was 12 years, 7 months and 17 days old at the time, which means he missed Karjakin’s record by just 17 days.

Gukesh is hugged by AICF CEO and FIDE Vice President Bharat Singh Chauhanafter after winning the game needed for his GM title.
GM Gukesh is hugged by AICF CEO and FIDE Vice President Bharat Singh Chauhanafter after winning the game needed for his new title. Photo: David Llada/Delhi Chess Association.

The feat required somewhat of a world tour. From Gukesh’s first IM norm until his third GM norm, he played in 30 tournaments over a period of 16 months. That amazing pace amounted to 276 games in 13 countries.

“Today is a great day, and I am very happy and proud of Gukesh,” Prasanna told “His strategic supremacy and his unique strategic understanding make him stand out. His ability to grasp and willingness to learn will make sure he goes a long way.”

Additional Tournament Success (2019-22)

Gukesh has fared well in tournaments following his historic accomplishment as the second-youngest grandmaster of all time.

Two months after earning the title, the 13-year-old shared second place in the ninth HD Bank Open that took place in March 2019 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Gukesh finished with a tournament performance rating of 2700 and 7/9 points. He was a half-point behind Wang Hao, who needed only a draw in the final round to take the event in sole first place.

Gukesh started 2020 impressively. His first tournament win came in February at a tournament to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Hillerod Chess Club in Denmark. Starting as the second seed, Gukesh scored 8/9 points and edged out the top-seeded Chinese GM Chongsheng Zeng.

The momentum stayed for Gukesh’s next tournament. A week after the Hillerod Chess Club event, Gukesh scored 7.5/9 at the Cannes Chess Festival 2020. He went undefeated and took first place, earning a performance rating of 2667. Gukesh finished a half-point ahead of GMs Zeng Chongsheng and Lamard Guillaume. The event offered more of a test for Gukesh than the previous event, as the Cannes Open fielded more than 10 GMs.

Gukesh won team bronze and individual gold at the 2022 FIDE Chess Olympiad. His individual score of nine points out of 11 was good for a 2867 performance rating on board one.

Candidate and Challenger (2023-24)

Gukesh's strong junior career continued in 2023 with a victory in the Junior Speed Chess Championship. In the eight-player knockout event, he defeated IM Emin Ohanyan, GM Pranav V, and GM Raunak Sadhwani to claim the crown. In July, he crossed the 2750 FIDE rating barrier, the youngest player ever to do so. He won the Chennai Masters in December, putting him in line to reach the 2024 Candidates Tournament.

Gukesh entered the Candidates Tournament, which began on April 4, 2024, as one of the underdogs. After round five, however, he was tied for first place. A loss to GM Alireza Firouzja in the seventh round turned out to be a mere bump in the road, although, by round 11, Gukesh had still yet to regain a share of first place. That changed with two straight victories in rounds 12 and 13 over GM Nijat Abasov and then in the rematch against Firouzja.

The win over Firouzja gave Gukesh sole possession of first place entering the final round but a mere half-point ahead of the three pre-tournament favorites: GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Fabiano Caruana, and winner of the previous two Candidates Tournaments, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. Simplifying matters, the four faced each other: Gukesh against Nakamura, and Caruana against Nepomniachtchi.

A win for Gukesh would guarantee a tournament victory, while a loss would eliminate him. A draw would guarantee at least a playoff against the winner of Caruana-Nepomniachtchi... assuming there was a winner in that game.

Shaking hands with Nakamura before the high-tension showdown. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

With the black pieces, Gukesh ended up never facing any real danger and guided the game to a draw. Meanwhile, Caruana pressed against Nepomniachtchi, but spent most of the game after move 30 in time trouble and ultimately could not prevail.

When Caruana grimly saw that his chances were over and offered Nepomniachtchi a draw after his 109th move, and Nepomniachtchi grudgingly accepted, Gukesh was officially the world championship challenger. Now Ding Liren awaits. 

A very happy tournament winner. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Present And Future

All the factors for success have been there for Gukesh. He comes from a widely respected school in India (the Velammal School). He has top-class coaching from Prasanna. And his father, an ENT surgeon, has made and continues to make career sacrifices to accompany his son to tournaments.

Gukesh continues to be a sensational chess talent. After becoming the second-youngest grandmaster ever, he has remained focused on taking the next steps in his chess career, and is now one event away from becoming world champion. 

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