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11-year-old Gukesh makes his maiden IM norm!

by Sagar Shah - 11/10/2017

There is definitely something about 11-year-old Gukesh and his ability to sustain the last round pressure. This young lad played a fine final round game against B. Sekar and not only made his maiden IM norm but also won the first edition of the First Friday closed Round Robin tournament with a score of 7.0/9, one and a half point ahead of his nearest rivals. Gukesh has announced his presence on the international arena and we can be sure that within a few months he will get his remaining two norms and also the 38 Elo points to reach 2400 rating mark and become an International Master.

Gukesh wins the inaugural edition of First Friday tournament

Last round must win situations are always very tense. I remember the first time I was in a similar situation was back in 2011. I had the white pieces and needed a win in the last round against GM R.R. Laxman to make my maiden IM norm. When the game began I was so nervous that I just couldn't play normal chess.


Sagar Shah vs R. R. Laxman

When my opponent played his bishop to h3, I was so afraid that the game would end in a draw that I played my bishop back to h1 and absolutely without any reason sacrificed the exchange! Of course, I lost the game without any fight.


To win last round, high pressure encounters you need a special mindset. A champion's mindset. More than thinking about the result you should have the ability to focus on the game. To make the best possible moves and not worry about other things. This is the reason why I consider 11-year-old Gukesh's feat to be extra special. At the first edition of the First Friday closed Round Robin tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Gukesh needed a win in the final round against B. Sekar (2260) to make his maiden IM norm.

Cool, calm and composed - that's Gukesh for you!

Instead of showing any nerves the boy played strong chess and wrapped up the game in just 22 moves. In fact the result was beyond doubt after just 13 moves.


Gukesh - Sekar

That's domination!

Little Gukesh flanked by Peter Long, the organizer of this event, on the left and Dr. Rajnikanth (Gukesh's father) on the right after he won the final round and made his maiden IM norm

So how did Gukesh celebrate his victory? Of course, by eating the traditional south Indian food on a Banana leaf!

Gukesh remained unbeaten and gained nearly 40 Elo points!

Here is why I think Gukesh will be a big star in Indian chess for years to come! He has just won a tournament, but he is more interested in learning! A great attitude.

The book he was reading - R.B. Ramesh's logical decision making

Results of round nine

Final Ranking crosstable after 9 Rounds

Rk.NameRtgFED12345678910Pts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
1CMGukesh D2323IND*½½1½111½17,00,0529,00
2Kumar Gaurav2274IND½*1½½1½½½½5,50,0224,50
3IMNay Oo Kyaw Tun2344MYA½0*1½½½1½½5,01,0221,75
4Lokesh N.2181IND0½0*½011115,00,0418,50
5IMMas Hafizulhelmi2318MAS½½½½*½1½0½4,51,5121,00
6IMLioe Dede2356INA00½1½*½0114,51,0317,00
7Sekar B2260IND0½½00½*1114,50,5316,50
8FMSivakumar Ashvin2309SGP0½00½10*114,00,0314,50
9FMSubramaniam Sumant2172MAS½½½01000*½3,00,0114,25
10IMMishra Neeraj-Kumar2301IND0½½0½000½*2,00,009,00

Kumar Gaurav did well scoring 5.5/9, remaining unbeaten and gaining 22 Elo points

A huge congratulations to FM Peter Long for successfully conducting the first edition of the First Friday round robin tournament. The concept is to have a tournament that begins on the first friday of every month. We look forward to many more!

All previous articles on first edition of First Friday:

R01+02: 11-year-old Indian prodigy leads at First Friday inaugural event

R03+04: Gukesh leads October First Friday with 3.5/4

R05+06: Gukesh still the sole leader as first edition of "First Friday" moves towards the end!

R07+R08: Can Gukesh make his maiden IM norm?

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