Praggnanandhaa: 'I was tired playing back to back'

Though R. Praggnanandhaa won the U-18 World Youth title, he finished ninth in the preceding U-20 event. The 14-year-old chess prodigy says he was tired playing back to back.

R. Praggnanandhaa during a felicitation ceremony in Chennai on Wednesay.   -  M. Vedhan

For the last 22 days, it has been non-stop action for R. Praggnanandhaa. The 14-year-old chess prodigy took part in two back to back major events: the World Youth (U-18) and then the World junior (U-20) championships in Mumbai and Delhi respectively.

Though he won the U-18 World title, he finished ninth in the preceding U-20 event.

“I was tired playing back to back. There were tougher players (in U-20). That was the main thing. [Moreover]. I had cold too,” said Praggnanandhaa, interacting with reporters here on Wednesday, after Velammal MHSS felicitated him at its School premises in Mogappair East.

His mother N. Nagalakshmi, chimed in: “He’s (Praggnanandhaa) has been playing without a break. Both U-18 & U-20 were tough. Now he needs rest.”

READ: Praggnanandhaa cruises to enthralling win, shares lead

Praggnanandhaa emphasised that the 10th and penultimate round was crucial for him winning the U-18 title. “It was the 10th round game (win over Pultinevicius Paulius of Lithuania). To get a half point lead (was important) over others,” he said.

Praggnanandhaa will take a short break and will start his next tournament with the London Classic from December 1 to 9 followed by Sunway Open in Sitges, Spain from Dec. 13 to 22 and the Gibraltar Chess Festival from January 21 to 30, 2020.

Playing many tournaments abroad and in India, does he not get bored?

The youngster, however, answered with a ‘no’. “I play a quite a few sports such as table tennis, cricket and badminton. That’s how I relax.”

To get into top physical and mental shape, does he do any mental training like yoga or meditation? 

“Slowly, I have to start. [But] I have started swimming last month,” he said.

A standard IX student of Velammal MHSS, Praggnanandhaa said Indian chess is looking up with the likes of Nihal Sarin and D. Gukesh playing well. “It will definitely improve,” he said.

For kids of his age, mobile phones are an obsession. Not for Praggnanandhaa. “With mobiles, I see only chess. There are lots of apps,” he answered. His mother, too, echoed a similar view. "You give him a mobile, he watches chess games (happening) all over the world. He is very naughty otherwise."

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