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Irony of Chess’ ‘Grandmaster’: Untold story of Sergei Karjakin

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Chess grandmasters do not appear overnight. Even the most gifted players take years to achieve the game’s greatest and most coveted championship. In 2002, Karjakin became the world’s youngest grandmaster when he won the Great Silk Road tournament in Sudak.

However, the title did not come fair. Initially, Karjakin’s draw in a match against Semyonova came as a surprise and Karkajin’s father took it upon himself to approach numerous opponents against whom his son had lost points and offered them money to repeat their games. Malinin, who had points to spare, decided to play Karjakin again. The two repeated a game that would ordinarily take up to six hours; the rematch, according to Malinin, was played “in a blitz” – a fast-paced chess variant. Karjakin was victorious.

It is a well-kept secret in the chess world that many players make backroom agreements with tournament organisers and other top rivals in order to get norms that they would otherwise struggle to obtain officially. Making side deals in chess, according to many chess players, is virtually harmless. Others, however, believe such is not the case as players who follow their standards honestly would not receive their grandmaster’s title for years, and hence would never have the opportunity to enter the highest ranks.

Unfortunate for Karjakin, he had later surrendered the title that had launched his career, after 18 years. The ‘small’ advantages that money could buy in the world of chess or anywhere became a norm. Abhimanyu Mishra soon succeeded him as the youngest grandmaster in history.

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