Houston, we have an IM – and he is 10 years and ten months of age! Better learn to pronounce his name: Praggnanandhaa, Pragg-na-nan-dhaa. A couple of hours ago he won his ninth round game at the KiiT International Chess Festival in Bhubaneswar, India, and made his third IM norm (after norms in Cannes and Moscow). We congratulate Praggu on this historical achievement.
Uzbek GM Marat Dzhumaev was hanging on to dear life in the chill of Delhi as a ten-year-old youngster kept pressing, giving him no respite. Time pressure did not help the grandmaster either, but he had a lucky escape as he played accurately to hold the draw. The boy seemed to be putting in more efforts to pick the pieces from the last rank than in calculating one of the many tough variations. He was disappointed that he could get no more than a draw.
The title of grandmaster has a certain charm to it that entices people to revere the ones who achieve it. Even more so, when the one who annexes the title is a youngster. Many of the top players today have made it to the youngest grandmasters list in the past. In fact, the World Champion today was the third youngest grandmaster in chess history, and his challenger to the title, Karjakin that is, is the youngest ever. Although it in no way assures what is in store for the future, one thing is certain — the group of juniors who rule the roost today is likely to be ruling the top in the coming decade.
Youngest grandmasters in history
A. Rameshbabu’s children Vaishali and Praggnanandhaa were giving him sleepless nights. The kids were so good at chess that they kept winning titles at state, national and international levels. Vaishali became the Indian National Women’s ‘B’ champion in 2015, besides winning a handful of medals in the various youth events. Praggnanandhaa, besides his share of youth medals, is in the process of rewriting history books. People who knew the siblings understood that both the kids would go far.
In early April, Praggnanandhaa made his way to the Asian Youth Championship 2016, and almost effortlessly won Gold in the Under-12 section, although the field was devoid of any real challenge. On May 23, 2016 he started as the twentieth seed in the KIIT International Open in Bhubaneswar, India with a rating of 2368. And although the tournament is not over yet, and the organisers have not bothered to provide us the PGN, Praggu was well on course to register, at least, his final IM-norm.
Praggnanandhaa has been working with GM R.B. Ramesh for three years now, and Ramesh firmly believes that this is him just doing his thing. Results take care of themselves.
Well, the tournament began, and he managed to defeat GM Karen Grigoryan in the fourth round. Praggnanandhaa has managed to remain solid in the remaining games, barring a loss in the eighth round. He has already touched the 2400 mark in this tournament. He was just a regulation finish away from doing the needful, and he did so, with a win in the ninth round over Al Muthiah (2308), just an hour ago (May 29, 2016). At ten years and ten months of age, Praggnanandhaa has created history by becoming the world’s youngest International Master.
But this is hardly the end, this is just the beginning. Praggnanandhaa is up there in the bunch of prodigies creating humongous waves of late, and he has only just begun. Exciting times ahead!