Praggnanandhaa becomes world’s second youngest Grandmaster

He achieved the feat on Sunday morning after he was listed to play against Dutch GM Roeland Pruijssers, thus fulfilling the third GM norm.

Pragganandha achieved his first GM norm in the World Juniors 2017, and his second at a closed round-robin tournament in Greece.   -  Special Arrangement

After 10 long, hard months of trying to become a chess Grandmaster, R. Praggnanandhaa finally achieved the feat on Saturday night and thereby earned the distinction of being only the second youngest chess player to get the GM status, at 12 years and 10 months.

Pragg, as he is called in chess circles, got the third and final GM norm in the Gredine Open chess tournament at Ortisei, Italy.

“He has been close to making a GM norm and missing it for nearly 10 months; he missed the [youngest] record by three months. There was some pressure or expectations and that could not be met,” admitted Pragg’s coach and mentor R.B. Ramesh. “We were not playing for the record, it was just the expectations all round we became more aware of it.”

After defeating GM Moroni Luca Jr. (2549) in the eighth and penultimate round, Pragg had to play an opponent above the rating of 2482 in the final round to become a GM. In that case, whatever the result, he would get the final norm.

In case, he was paired with a player rated below him, then Prag at least, had to force a draw on Sunday to get the final norm.

At around 12 in the midnight on Sunday, when the pairings were released, Pragg was listed to play against Dutch GM Roeland Pruijssers . It was a sigh of relief for those who have been following the young prodigy’s career.

Ramesh praised his ward’s immense talent and sincerity. “{It has been} very inspiring [working with him]. Four years ago I started coaching him. He spends eight hour a day [on chess], and never gets tired. He has an elder sister in R. Vaishali who also is a very good chess player. You have a good support at home also,” said Ramesh.

With the GM burden off his back, Ramesh said there will be more opportunities for his trainee as organisers will want him to play in their tournaments. “It’s a fantastic achievement for someone so young. It will give him more visibility for organisers in Europe. They will want him to play in Europe,” he said.

According to Ramesh, Pragg, who is sponsored by Ramco Group and ONGC, will have to keep up the momentum and not get complacent. “All expectations are met. He has to become a stronger player and become the world men’s champion in another 12-15 years. He has that skill, extremely hard-working. He still has lots of work to do. [Only now] the foundation is laid," he said.

Pragg achieved his first GM norm in the World Juniors 2017, and he achieved his second GM norm at a closed round-robin tournament in Greece.

Ukraine's Sergey Karjakin is the youngest to become a GM (12 years & 7 months).

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