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Indian boy world’s 2nd-youngest GM

June 25, 2018 05:24 AM


Indian boy world’s 2nd-youngest GM


Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand was 18 when he became a Grandmaster. Magnus Carlsen, the man who toppled Anand as world champion in 2013 and has been reigning since then, became a GM at 13 years and 4 months. So it's clear that India has a very special talent in R Praggnanandhaa, who on Saturday night became the world's second youngest Grandmaster ever at 12 years, 10 months and 13 days.

Praggu, as he's affectionately known, achieved the feat when he defeated GM Moroni Luca Jr in round 8 of the 4th Gredine Open in Italy. When TOI spoke to the Chennai lad, he was remarkably composed. “There is a sense of relief that I have done it. I guess the feeling is yet to fully sink in. I wasn’t aware of the prospect of becoming a GM till someone informed me while I was heading for my round 8 match in the tournament,” he said.

I can now play feely, says Praggu

“There is a sense of relief that I have done it. I guess the feeling is yet to fully sink in. I wasn’t aware of the prospect of becoming a GM till someone informed me while I was heading for my round 8 match in the tournament. I chose not to think of it as it would have robbed me off my concentration. Having achieved this, my next target will obviously be to become the world champion,” he said on Sunday evening, moments after winning the 9th round of the competition where he beat GM Roeland Pruijssers. Praggu finished second in the event.

Anand, Praggu's idol, was quick to congratulate the young gun. "Welcome to the club & congrats Praggnanandhaa!! See u soon in chennai?" he tweeted.

Praggu became the youngest International Master in the world in May 2017 and bagged his maiden GM norm at the world junior championships in November last year. If he had two more GM norms before March 10 this year, he would have beaten Ukraine’s Sergey Karjakin's record of becoming the youngest ever GM (at 12 years and 7 months). However R B Ramesh, Praggu’s coach, says his ward never lamented missing the chance despite coming agonizingly close to it on a few occasions. “I don’t think Praggu was chasing the youngest GM tag. Yes, he would analyse his game, think of getting better at it but beyond that, he never dwelled too much on the outcomes,” Ramesh said.

When his parents — Rameshbabu and Nagalakshmi — introduced him to the sport, it became clear from the outset that Praggu had an eye for making the right moves. He started off following elder sister Vaishali — who is on course to achieve her maiden IM norm — but soon zoomed ahead. "He was sharp with his moves and played the game for the love of it. Results didn't matter much as long as he enjoyed," said Rameshbabu.

Praggu conceded that the constant discussion on gaining the GM title got to him at times, but the class VIII student at Velammal School in Mogappair was able to shrug it off quickly. “I won’t say it affected my performance, but yes, I have thought of it a few times. Having said that, I can now play a lot more freely,” Praggu revealed.

In March this year, Praggu’s consistent run was recognized by the Susan Polgar Institute of Chess Excellence in Webster University.


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