India’s teenage chess star D Gukesh, on Thursday, won the inaugural 2023 Chennai Grandmasters title following a draw with fellow Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna.

At the end of seven rounds, Gukesh finished level on terms with Arjun Erigaisi on 4.5 points but took home the title due to a better tiebreak score. Harikrishna completed the podium, taking the third place with four points.

Heading into the final round, Gukesh only needed a draw to clinch the title in front of his home crowd. He finished unbeaten in the tournament.

The title win has also propelled the Chennai-lad to the top of the 2023 FIDE Circuit leaderboard and thereby putting him within a touching distance of sealing a spot at the 2024 Candidates tournament.

Gukesh came into the tournament needing a title win in order to stay in contention to qualify for the Candidates. He now has 87.36 points in FIDE Circuit – more than three points clear of Dutch GM Anish Giri who has 84.31 points.

Though Gukesh is placed second in the FIDE Circuit currently behind Fabiano Caruana, who has 118.61 points, the Indian is expected to make it through with the American Grandmaster having already qualified by finishing third at the Chess World Cup earlier in the year.

The 2023 FIDE Circuit concludes with the World Rapid and Blitz Championships slated to be held in Uzbekistan from December 26 to December 30. However, with a three point lead in his bag, Gukesh is the front runner to secure a spot in the Candidates.

The FIDE Circuit leaderboard is the latest pathway incorporated for players to qualify for the Candidates tournament – the winner of which will compete for the World Championships title against China’s Ding Liren.

Two Indians – Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujarati, have already qualified for the 2024 Candidates in the open section, while R Vaishali has qualified in the women’s section.