Gukesh wins title on tie-break, becomes frontrunner for FIDE Circuit Candidates berth

Arjun Erigaisi, Gukesh and P. Harikrishna pose with their spoils after the end of the Chennai Grand Masters Chess Championship on Thursday, December 21, 2023.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

D. Gukesh drew with P. Harikrishna in the seventh and final round and won the Chennai Grand Masters Chess Championship on tie-break at The Leela Palace hotel here on Thursday.

Gukesh finished joint-first with Arjun Erigaisi, who beat Hungary’s Sanan Sjugirov. The Sonneborn-Berger score was employed as the tie-break and Gukesh (13.75) edged Arjun (13.50) to the title.

Gukesh has surpassed Anish Giri in the FIDE Circuit leaderboard and has thus become the frontrunner for the FIDE Circuit Candidates spot.

Anish needs to finish in the top-three in the World Rapid or win the World Blitz, and Arjun has to win the World Rapid to overtake Gukesh and secure the FIDE Circuit Candidates spot.

Gukesh said he had decided to play safe after securing back-to-back wins over Alexandr Predke (Serbia) and Sjugirov in the fourth and fifth rounds.

“The last couple of rounds, I was in safe mode. I knew that tied for first would be enough for (topping) the (FIDE) Circuit. Two wins were quite nice, and I was like, ‘Now, I should just not do anything stupid and just play it safe.’ So, yes, honestly, I was just playing for a draw in the last two games,” he said on the commentary.

“When you are fighting in every game, accidents can happen. It’s not that I’m scared of it, but the stakes were just too high, and I didn’t want to take any chances,” he added.

The results (seventh round): P. Harikrishna (4) drew with D. Gukesh (4.5); Arjun Erigaisi bt Sanan Sjugirov (Hun, 2.5); Alexandr Predke (Srb, 1.5) lost to Parham Maghsoodloo (Irn, 3.5); Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 4) drew with Levon Aronian (USA, 3.5).

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