Siblings strike it rich in Copenhagen

Praggnanandhaa wins title, his first big win after becoming a Grand Master in June last year. 

Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali

R. Praggnanandhaa and his sister R. Vaishali   -  M. VEDHAN

It was a memorable day for siblings- R. Praggnanandhaa and his sister R. Vaishali - in the Xtracon Open chess championship, which concluded here on Sunday.

Pragg with 8.5 points, from 10 rounds won the open title while Vaishali got her first GM-norm and second IM-norm. Vaishali, with 7.5 points, finished 15th.

This is 13-year-old Pragg's first big title after becoming a Grand Master in June last year. 

READ : Bhakti Kulkarni retains national chess title

Seeded 20th in the tournament, Pragg said there was no pressure on him as such. "Defeating Italy's Vocaturo Daniele, a higher-rated player, in the seventh round was special. Now I am very confident," he said.

Vashali, 18, was ecstatic.

"We had some good moments earlier too in the same tournament. We won the World youth title in Greece in 2015. I won it in the u-14 category and he (Pragg) won it in u-10. And last year in Gredine Open in Ortisei (Italy), he got his final GM norm and I received my second WGM norm. This (Xtracon Open) is a big victory for him as it is a strong tournament," she said.

Coach R.B. Ramesh praised his ward Pragg saying it was a just reward for all the hard work he has put in.

"This is a great result for him. Since he became GM last year, he was kind of stuck at a certain level. His performances were not bad but not great either. But this is a great reward for all the hard work he has been putting," he said.

READ : Prithu Gupta becomes India's 64th Grandmaster

Ramesh further said Pragg worked on new openings and that worked for him. "After becoming GM, with the pressure off, we worked a lot on openings. We also worked on his end game skills because in recent times he had great positions but could not convert them into wins and had a lot of draws. But in this tournament, he was able to make some wins against strong players which also helps with his confidence levels."

On Vaishali, Ramesh said, "It is a great result to get a men's GM norm. Not many women have it in India. Ideally, she should have got it a year earlier and her confidence was a little low but it is still a great result. She was also busy with her class 12 preparations last year. This win should help with her rating points as well and help her get into the women's team for bigger team events."

Pragg will reach Chennai on July 30 and then leave to Abu Dhabi for the Abu Dhabi Masters scheduled on August 2.