R Praggnanandhaa: Aiming To Become Youngest Chess Grandmaster
Subhagata Bhattacharya

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa could have been just another average kid from the Indian household who plays chess as a hobby. He is probably one such chap who is not bothered by the worldly desires of winning titles or challenging the best in the world. He simply wants to enjoy his childhood playing chess and doing what the other children of his age do. Well, if you have not figured it out just yet, he wants to watch cartoons and play like all other kids. However, this young boy has learnt to play chess even before he learnt to read, so can one be blamed for expecting that the 11-year-old International Master is the rightful heir of Viswanathan Anand in India and one of the brightest prospects in world chess?

Most people would say, probably not. But, some would say it is the same simplicity and the determination to enjoy the game of chess that makes the youngster so good at what he does best. Praggnanandhaa sets up his game way beyond the average capacity of players his age, and likely even beyond a lot of professional players of the time. His ability to analyze the game is far superior, his tactics are supreme, and he is the player whom the world awaits to see in the long run.

After all, he has made strides as the youngest ever International Master and is in form to even become the youngest Grand Master in Chess. Praggnanandhaa is likely to challenge Sergey Karjakin’s status as the youngest and the only pre teenage chess Grand Master in the history of the game.

Making big headlines at tender age

The Chennai based prodigy broke the record of Judit Polgar, widely considered the greatest woman player of all time, who was just 11 when she became an International Master.

Ever since the world started taking note of the youngster, Praggnanandhaa has reminded the veterans of all the talents that have emerged in the past. After breaking Polgar’s record Praggnanandhaa would be eyeing at Parimarjan Negi, another Indian Grand Master who achieved the norm just after the age of 13 and is the third youngest in the world. Or with the present world champion Magnus Carlsen. However, he need only target Karjakin who still stands as the youngest Grandmaster.

The humble 11-year-old from India in an interview said, “I don’t know why I’m good at chess, I just am really enjoy it.” However, he also made his intentions very clear by adding, “I want to become world champion as soon as possible.”

The young boy has been breaking records and thus making headlines all over in the world of chess. His achievements and determination is apparently making the whole of the chess fraternity back him to do wonders in the near future.

Comparison drawn against the best of 20th Century

Praggnanandhaa’s 18-move game against Grandmaster Axel Bachmann in the Isle of Man tournament has been likened to Bobby Fischer’s “Game of the Century” against Donald Byrne in 1956.Praggnanandhaa has already at his tender age drawn comparison with arguably one of the best in the 20th century, Bobby Fischer. The Chennai prodigy is restless, just like the American champion. Some veterans from the world of chess would say; it’s his age to be restless, so let him be. However, many others would want to put a word of caution for the latest addition among the computer-age prodigies.

This victory is sure to be recognized as one of the best in the 21st century and definitely be remembered as one where a prodigy was introduced to the world.

While another ability that is seen in Praggnanandhaa’s game is  his willingness to learn even more. And, also a certain degree of calm could be seen, which shows some extent of maturity in his game.

Praggnanandhaa: Working to achieve his dream

The title of being a Grandmaster does have a certain charm to it and tempts people to be in awe of the ones who achieve it. Especially when the one who seizes the title is a youngster. Although the title in no way assures what is in store for the future, one thing is certain — the youngsters who rule the ground today are likely to be ruling the top in the coming decade.

The steps would certainly not be easy as the young prodigy is set to enter the world of the veterans. His restless play, lack of tournament experience, and his youth would all play against him apart from the opponent on the other side of the table. However, the goal of the youngster is quite clear. Achieve the three norms of 2600+ performances in individual competitions. At his present rating of 2455 he seems at a distance away from his target, but, it is very much an achievable one for the prodigy who turns 12 in August. This gives him just about a year’s time achieve the necessary norms to become the youngest Grandmaster of all time.

Praggnanandhaa, besides his share of youth medals, is in the process of rewriting history books. He is up there in the bunch of prodigies creating humongous waves of late, and has only just begun. Exciting times ahead!


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