Praggnanandhaa Becomes 2nd Youngest GM In History
Praggnandhaa must be all smiles after achieving the much-anticipated grandmaster title. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Praggnanandhaa Becomes 2nd Youngest GM In History

Rakesh
IM Rakesh
Jun 25, 2018, 8:09 AM |
104 | Chess.com News

At the age of 12 years, 10 months, and 13 days, Indian prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa became the second-youngest grandmaster in chess history. He scored his third grandmaster norm at the fourth Gredine open in Ortisei, Italy.

After a steady start, he was on 5.5/7 and would need 1.0/2 or 1.5/2 from his final two games depending on the rating of his opposition. In round eight, he held the white pieces against the Italian GM Luca Moroni Jr., who is rated 2549. He won a fine attacking game.

With the third norm and the title already in the bag, Praggnanandhaa, playing Black, finished in style with a fine win over Dutch GM Roeland Pruijssers, rated 2514. There was a nice checkmate at the end.

Thanks to this final win, he finished the fourth Gredine open as the joint champion but had to be content with the runner's-up spot due to inferior tiebreaks. His performance rating was a massive 2705, 100 points more than the required 2600 for a grandmaster norm.

Looking back at his nascent career, Praggnanandhaa first made his name known by winning continental (Asian) championships and two world championship titles. Praggnanandhaa was also the world's youngest international master at 10 years old, a record he still holds.

In 2016, at Chess.com's Isle of Man International, he was nicknamed "Double Anand" after he defeated GM Axel Bachmann as Black in fewer than 20 moves. As FM Mike Klein put it, "This is the one that puts the kid on the world stage."

Don't miss the interview he gave right after winning this game.

A year later at the 2017 Chess.com Isle of Man International, he achieved another milestone when he defeated a 2700+ player for the first time, English GM David Howell.

Praggnanandhaa, Grandmaster, Chess

Praggnanandhaa with his country's flag beside him at Isle of Man. | Photo Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Praggnanandhaa then scored his first norm at the World Junior Championship held at Tarvisio, Italy in November 2017. At this point, many felt Praggnanandhaa would likely break Russian GM Sergey Karjakin's record of becoming the world's youngest GM with about 100 days to go.

With this quest in mind, little Praggnanandhaa set off on a world tour, playing five grandmaster tournaments across four continents in three months for two grandmaster norms to fulfill one dream—being the youngest grandmaster of all time.

The 12-year-old Praggu, as he is known, was not alone. He was accompanied by his mother, Nagalakshmi, and occasionally by his elder sister, WIM Vaishali. To help him with the right moves and decisions, both on and off the board, he looked up to his mentor and coach, GM R.B. Ramesh.

He was highly supported and backed by his sponsors, Ramco group and by the AICF president, Mr. Venkataraman Raja, ONGC and Microsense.

This period turned out to be a one of stagnation. He seemed to be playing good chess, creating chances, and maintaining his 2500+ rating, but the norm just wouldn't come. After a decent but not norm-worthy tournament in Reykjavik, GM Karjakin's record could not be broken.

With the pressure off and a month to relax, the next tournament in Greece was a wonderful opportunity to get back to the board. Looking to try something different than grandmaster opens, Praggu played a closed tournament in Crete, Greece—the fourth Fischer Memorial in Heraklion. He had a steady start, stayed undefeated, and finished strongly with 1.5/2. This propelled him to an excellent 7/9 score, giving him the title and the second GM norm.

Speaking to Chess.com, his coach GM R.B. Ramesh said, "It's a fantastic achievement by someone so young. Pragg is very talented and hard working of course. He should capitalize on this strong foundation and go all the way to the world championship title. He has the capacity to do that."

Congratulatory wishes also poured in for Praggu from around the world.

Viswanathan Anand, who was playing in the Paris leg of the Grand Chess Tour, tweeted his congratulations. 

 

Viswanathan Anand, Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin

Anand sharing a photo with Praggnanandhaa (right) and Nihal Sarin. | Photo Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The government of India also congratulated Praggu as the sports minister of India announced an incentive to further accelerate his growth.

Praggu completed all his norms within seven months of his first norm.

Youngest grandmasters of all time

No. Fed Player Country Age
1 Sergey Karjakin Russia 12 years, 7 months, 0 days
2 Praggnanandhaa R. India 12 years, 10 months, 13 days
3 Nodirbek Abdusattorov Uzbekistan 13 years, 1 month, 11 days
4 Parimarjan Negi India 13 years, 4 months, 22 days
5 Magnus Carlsen Norway 13 years, 4 months, 27 days
6 Wei Yi China 13 years, 8 months, 23 days
7 Bu Xiangzhi China 13 years, 10 months, 13 days
8 Samuel Sevian United States 13 years, 10 months, 27 days
9 Richard Rapport Hungary 13 years, 11 months, 6 days
10 Teimour Radjabov Azerbaijan 14 years, 0 months, 14 days
11 Ruslan Ponomariov Ukraine 14 years, 0 months, 17 days
12 Awonder Liang United States 14 years, 1 month, 20 days
13 Wesley So United States 14 years, 1 month, 28 days
14 Etienne Bacrot France 14 years, 2 months, 0 days
15 Illya Nyzhnyk Ukraine 14 years, 3 months, 2 days
16 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave France 14 years, 4 months, 0 days
17 Peter Leko Hungary 14 years, 4 months, 22 days
18 Jorge Cori Peru 14 years, 5 months, 15 days
19 Hou Yifan China 14 years, 6 months, 16 days
20 Jeffery Xiong United States 14 years, 6 months, 25 days
21 Anish Giri Netherlands 14 years, 7 months, 2 days
22 Yuriy Kuzubov Ukraine 14 years, 7 months, 12 days
23 Bogdan Daniel Deac Romania 14 years, 7 months, 27 days
24 Dariusz Swiercz Poland 14 years, 7 months, 29 days
25 Aryan Chopra India 14 years, 9 months, 3 days
26 Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son Vietnam 14 years, 10 months, 0 days
27 Daniil Dubov Russia 14 years, 11 months, 14 days
28 Ray Robson United States 14 years, 11 months, 16 days
29 Fabiano Caruana United States 14 years, 11 months, 20 days
30 Yu Yangyi China 14 years, 11 months, 23 days

The youngest grandmasters of all time, via Wikipedia.


Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Praggnanandhaa scored his second GM norm in Rhodes, instead of Crete.

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