Teenaged Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa is breaking new grounds in the the Chess World Cup, scalping higher-rated opponents one after the other, but he is “handling himself mostly” as far as the nuances of the game are concerned.
Praggnanandhaa is on his own at the Azerbaijan capital of Baku as his personal coach RB Ramesh is away in another country. His mother Nagalakshmi is looking after him but not for matters relating to the tactics of the game. “He (Praggnanandhaa) is handling himself mostly. I am just chatting on WhatsApp with him,” Ramesh, himself a Grandmaster, told PTI.
“Praggnanandhaa is following a routine like sleeping nine hours at night, not skipping any meal, walking in the evening after the game and preparing four hours before the match (es).” Despite the absence of a personal coach on tour, Praggnanandhaa has only got better with each match and overcome nerve-wracking tie-breaks, including the one against talented compatriot Arjun Erigaisi.
He has been on a roll, beating top stars like Hikaru Nakamura (world No.2) and Fabiano Caruana (world No.3) on way to the summit clash.
By becoming the only Indian player after legendary Viswanathan Anand to book a spot in the Candidates tournament, the 18-year-old wonderkid from Chennai has proved that he will be the name to reckon with in future.
Grandmaster M Shyam Sundar, who is in Baku as the coach of the Indian contingent, said the players in general have their own routine and he was keeping them in good spirits through various activities.
“Players in general here have their own routine and have their own team helping in different parts of the world. I go for walks, play table tennis with them to keep them in good spirits, arrange good food for them, provide personal care to them and have casual discussions about the game,” Sundar said.
He said whenever his wards play tie-breaks, he would be in the playing hall, watch their games and make himself available throughout in case the players want some last minute discussions.
Sundar said the presence of his mother Nagalakshmi is a huge support for Praggnanandhaa and that is evident in his performance.
Praggnanandhaa too had said during the course of the World Cup that his mother has been a calming influence on him.
“Definitely good to have someone here. My mother is always supportive! Even after losing games, she was just trying to calm me down,” he said.
“It’s good to have someone rooting for you here, and for me my mother is a big support - not only for me, for my sister as well.”
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