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Grandmaster Dommaraju Gukesh has emulated Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand as the second Indian to win the Candidates Tournament. Image Credit: Reuters

Montreal: A 17-year-old from India will become the youngest player to challenge for the World Chess Championship crown after winning a major tournament in Canada.

Gukesh Dommaraju will face reigning champion Ding Liren from China for another piece of history, after being the youngest player to win the prestigious Candidates Tournament.

“I’m just so relieved, so happy following this crazy game,” Gukesh said following his landmark triumph in Toronto on Sunday.

“I was in the right mindset throughout the event. From start to end, I was in good spirits, fully motivated and I really wanted to win the event.”

A grandmaster since he was 12, he is now set to be the “youngest World Chess Championship challenger in history”, the International Chess Federation said.

Grandmaster at 12

Asked how he felt about his history-making feats, the teenager said: “I don’t really care about youngest and all these records, but it’s a nice thing to say.

“Right now I’m mostly just happy about winning the tournament.”

Gukesh became India’s youngest grandmaster when he was just 12 years, seven months and 17 days old, but missed being the world’s youngest by 17 days, according to Indian media.

Eight players competed from April 4 in Toronto, but without the Norwegian multiple world champion Magnus Carlsen.

“India is exceptionally proud of Gukesh on becoming the youngest-ever player to win the FIDE Candidates!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on X.

“Gukesh’s remarkable achievement at the Candidates in Toronto showcases his extraordinary talent and dedication.

“His outstanding performance and journey to the top inspires millions.”

Handled tough situations

Former world champion Viswanathan Anand praised Gukesh, saying he is impressed with how the 17-year-old played and handled tough situations.

“Congratulations to @DGukesh for becoming the youngest challenger. The @WacaChess family is so proud of what you have done. I’m personally very proud of how you played and handled tough situations. Enjoy the moment,” Anand posted on X.

He is only the second Indian player to win the Candidates Tournament, after Anand. Five-time world champion Anand’s victory came in 2014.

In Round 14, Gukesh used black pieces to hold rival championship contender Hikaru Nakamura to a draw and secure his victory.

At the Asian Games in Hangzhou last year, he took home a silver medal.

The date and location of the world championship showdown have yet to be announced.