India’s 16-year-old Grandmaster Dommaraju Gukesh, playing with black pieces, held five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen to a draw in the ninth round of the Tata Steel Masters being held in Wijk aan Zee on Tuesday.
Having beaten Carlsen in an online rapid chess game last year, it was the first time the teen was facing Carlsen in over-the-board classical chess. And Carlsen, having previously lost to current leader Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan and Dutch GM Anish Giri in the tournament, was under pressure in his bid to defend his title.
But Gukesh, who was coming on the back of an impressive win over Iranian Parham Maghsoodloo in the previous round, didn’t make any mistakes to give Carlsen the edge.
“This game was special for me because it was my first classical game against Carlsen. The result wouldn’t matter to me,” he said after the game.
Gukesh had told the Indian Express in December last year that he was waiting for an opportunity to talk to Carlsen and pick his brain. And that’s exactly what he did after the match as both the players analysed the match for as many as 50 minutes.
“It was really amazing of him to talk to me for so long despite the game ending in a draw and this being a must-win game for him. Both of us agreed that it was difficult for either of us to get an advantage in the game,” Gukesh said.
Another Indian teenager Praggnanandhaa also had a fabulous game, drawing against American GM Fabiano Caruana.
In fact, it was Caruana who had to make quite an effort to equalise against Praggnanandhaa the 17-year-old who had the initiative and kept pressing until they reached a rook ending where he finally agreed to a draw with his American opponent.
The highlight of the round so far was Giri beating World No. 2 Ding Liren. Ding blundered a pawn. Giri changed gears, and took the pawn and Ding had no choice but to resign a couple of moves later.