Gukesh will be a slight favourite for world championship match against Ding Liren: Susan Polgar

Chennai, April 22 (IANS): Seventeen-year-old Indian chess Grandmaster D. Gukesh, the challenger for the world chess title will be a slight favourite against the reigning world chess champion from China GM Ding Liren, said former women’s world champion (1996-99), Grandmaster (GM) Susan Polgar.

Polgar, who at 15 became the top-ranked female chess player in the world in 1984 also said Gukesh has to cut down his tournament schedule and focus on a wider opening repertoire.

"Match strategy is different from round robin or Swiss formats. Gukesh should cut down on the busy playing schedule and work more on a wider opening repertoire," the Hungarian-American GM told IANS.

The Indian teenager created history on Monday by becoming the youngest player to win the FIDE Candidates tournament held in Toronto, Canada and qualify as the challenger for the world chess title currently held by Liren. He scored nine points out of 14 rounds, half a point ahead of several other players.

"I believe Gukesh will be the slight favourite against Ding Liren. The world champion is a very good player. However, he has not been very active and his form is not at its peak," Polgar said when queried about the Indian's chances of becoming a world champion.

Interestingly, the world champion Liren is ranked fourth in the world with a rating of 2,762 while Gukesh with a rating of 2,743 is ranked 16th in the world.

According to the International Chess Federation or FIDE, the World Championship Match consists of 14 games. The player who scores 7.5 points or more wins the Match, and no further games are played. If the score after 14 games is equal, the winner is decided on a tiebreak. The dates and venue are yet to be finalised by the FIDE.

"Gukesh has the maturity beyond his years. He also has the talent, motivation, fearless mentality, strong nerves, determination, and the X-factor," she added.

Asked about her advice for Gukesh to become the world chess champion, Polgar said: "It is crucial for him to control his nerves early on in the match. As a challenger, it will be much more difficult to come from behind. Let the game come to him and not try to artificially make things happen. It will be a long match so do not put on extra stress."

She further said Gukesh has to manage his game timing properly and not get into time pressure. At the Candidates Tournament, the 17-year-old got into time pressure against GM Alireza Firouzja and lost the game.

Congratulating Gukesh on his success Polgar told Gukesh to enjoy the moment, "I truly believe we are witnessing great history in the making!" she signed off.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at


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