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Mumbai, Aug 4 – Grandmaster (GM) Viswanathan Anand was there on both occasions when an Indian player overtook him in Live Rating to become India’s No.1 chess player — first when Pentala Harikrishna did in March 2016 and again on Thursday when Dommaraju Gukesh surpassed him in ratings at the FIDE World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In March 2016, Anand was playing at the event and won back his position as India’s highest-rated Indian player.
On Thursday when Gukesh overtook him, Anand was in Baku as one of the official commentators for the event. He faced questions over the possibility that Gukesh will overtake him in ratings before the start of the 17-year-old player’s second game against GM Misratdin Iskandarov in the first round of the FIDE World Cup in Baku.
“Today I will be in a funny situation of commentating on the event where this record can be broken. At the same time, it feels very strange to talk about that because Gukesh’s job at the tournament is to be very focused, finish the job every round and qualify for the next one,” Anand told Chessbase India said before Gukesh’s round.
“But honestly, it is a distraction from his point of view. And even if he does it one day, it doesn’t matter because he can lose it the next day. He is top by rating (in this tournament) so he is going to play opponents lower rated than him. It will be a fun thing hanging over our heads, but I don’t know how seriously to take it either,” he added.
Anand was quick to react after Gukesh managed the feat and overtook him in Live Rating.
“Absolutely Proud! We started off with one GM, one World Champion and now we have two top ten players. Congratulations to the generation of Indian talent especially to our new No.1 @DGukesh,” Anand tweeted in reply to a Tweet in response to Westbridge Anand Chess Academy (WACA) as part of which he coached Gukesh along with many other young Indian talents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Bravo, @DGukesh! This pic with you as well as the few moves you ALLOWED me to play against you will be hugely valuable parts of my archive of memories…. May you rise to be the World’s, Numero Uno… And @vishy64theking, it must feel strange to have someone overtake you, but how satisfying that it’s someone YOU inspired to play the game!” tweeted Anand Mahindra, the Chairman of Mahindra Group.
The International Chess Federation, FIDE, was the first to put out this news on social media.
“Gukesh D won again today and has overcome Viswanathan Anand in live rating! There is still almost a month till the next official FIDE rating list on September 1, but the 17-year-old will likely be making it to the top 10 in the world as the highest-rated Indian player!” FIDE said in a tweet on Thursday night.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K Stalin too came out hailing Gukesh, terming his achievement as “incredible”.
“Congratulations Grandmaster @DGukesh on your incredible achievement of entering the top 10 of the world (FIDE) rankings for the first time. Your determination and skill have propelled you to the top echelon of chess, making you the highest-rated Indian player. Your achievement is an inspiration to young talents everywhere and a proud moment for Tamil Nadu!” he tweeted.
Gukesh’s long-time coach GM Vishnu Prasanna said at the start of the year they had set this as an important milestone for Gukesh.
“Gukesh continues to exceed everyone’s expectations and the amount of work he has put in to be consistent shows in his play. I am very happy for him for crossing his idol Vishy and also to enter the Top 10 in the world. At the beginning of the year, this was an important milestone for him and I am impressed by how smoothly he has achieved this,” Vishnu Prasanna told Chessbase India.
The challenge for Gukesh now will be to continue improving his rating. With Anand not playing many tournaments in recent times, there are fewer chances of him overtaking Gukesh. The next higher-ranked Indian in the FIDE rating list is Vidit Gujarati, who is No 23 in the list at 2723, and Pentala Harikrishna, No 27 with a rating of 2711. Another prodigy R
Praggnanandhaa is rated 2707 and ranked No 29 on the list.
Thus it is for Gukesh to lose the top spot.