Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (2024)

ByCherylann Mollan,BBC News, Mumbai

Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (1)Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (2)Getty Images

Indian chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa's World Cup run has ended without a trophy, but experts say that his stellar performances will have a monumental impact on the game in the country.

The Indian grandmaster had to settle for the runner's up title after his opponent, the world's top-ranked Magnus Carlsen defeated him in a round of tie-breakers on Thursday, after their previous two games ended in a draw.

But experts have highlighted the youngster's grit and exceptional skills throughout the tournament in Baku.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the youngster on X for his "remarkable" performance and for putting up a "tough fight". Experts have described his achievement as "tectonic and seminal".

The 18-year-old's journey in the tournament has been nothing short of exceptional.

Praggnanandhaa, or Pragg as he's popularly known, defeated the world's second and third ranked players to make it to the World Cup final, a remarkable feat in itself as no other Indian has competed in the finals since chess legend Vishwanathan Anand won the title back in 2002.

He also made headlines for becoming the world's youngest player to play in the finals and the third-youngest person to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, putting him in the league of prodigies like Carlsen himself and Bobby Fischer.

Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (3)Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (4)AFP

The teenager's achievements have bolstered his reputation in the field. With younger players making a mark, it also signals a "generational shift" in the game itself and that shift "is likely to heavily favour India," Devangshu Datta, a columnist and Fide-rated chess player wrote in The Times of India.

During this World Cup, four Indian players advanced to the quarterfinals, securing an impressive 50% of the available slots.

Currently, there are 21 Indian players who hold positions within the top 100 junior players in the world, all under 20 years of age; among them, four rank in the top 10 and seven in the top 20.

These youngsters "will almost certainly dominate chess for a decade or more," says Datta.

And the theory is a plausible one, because thousands of young Indians are now playing chess - a trend that began in the 2000s after Anand's victories made headlines - and has since steadily picked up speed.

Smartphones and cheap internet access have made it easy for children to hone their skills through apps and online tournaments, while basic chess coaching is easily available as well.

This is significantly different from the way things stood even a couple of decades ago.

"For Indians players who arrived on the scene even two decades after Anand, access to regular training under a GM (Grandmaster) was almost inconceivable," notes sports writer Susan Ninan in The Indian Express.

Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (5)Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (6)AFP

Though the chess landscape in the country has changed drastically since then, experts say that more needs to be done if India truly wants its players to make a mark on the international stage.

Right now, the game lacks proper support structures, and parents still find themselves having to fund their children's dreams.

"It's still a bunch of plucky parents who've quit jobs, put chess above school for their kids, taken mortgages on their homes, and are travelling to tournaments with their 8-15-year-olds hoping funds will outlast their dreams," Ninan writes.

Praggnanandhaa too had a similar story.

The son of a bank manager father and homemaker mother, his parents too reportedly had to borrow money to fund his games, at least up until 2016, when he became the world's youngest International Master at 10 years of age. Help arrived soon after in the form of a sponsor.

Both he and his sister - who actually inspired him to start playing the sport - are first generation chess players in their family and their mother still travels with Praggnanandhaa around the world, making her son's favourite Tamil dishes during tournaments.

Praggnanandhaa's meteoric rise to the top is an inspiration to many, and a credit to his hard work and talent, and perhaps, a bit of luck.

"Prag may have lost," writes Datta. "But India's winning run may just have begun".

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Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (7)Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (8)

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Praggnanandhaa: India chess prodigy's 'remarkable' impact on the sport (2024)


How is Praggnanandhaa so good at chess? ›

Most players train by moving pieces on the board, but when you do that, your visualisation skills will not be so good. That's why Pragg is probably the best among all the other players in his generation when it comes to visualisation,” Ramesh had said in August last year after the FIDE World Cup.

What are the achievements of Praggnanandhaa? ›

Career Milestones: In just five years, Praggnanandhaa achieved the title of Grandmaster. He won the Under-8 World Youth Championship in 2013 and secured the Under-10 title two years later. His journey continued, and by the age of 12 years and 10 months in 2018, he became the world's second-youngest Grandmaster.

Who is the 18 year old Indian chess player? ›

Indian Chess Player, 18 years old Praggnanandhaa.

Which Indian chess prodigy beats Magnus? ›

R Praggnanandhaa scripts history, beats world number one Magnus Carlsen in classical chess for first time. R Praggnanandhaa, the Indian chess sensation, clinched a remarkable victory against world number one Magnus Carlsen in classical chess, securing his first-ever win in this format against the champion.

Who is the world no. 1 chess player? ›

The seventh and current world number one is Magnus Carlsen, who first achieved this ranking in the January 2010 list, and has been world number one since July 2011 after having lost and reclaimed the position from Anand during 2010 and 2011.

Who is the most genius in chess? ›

Magnus Carlsen

He is the highest-rated player in history and holds the record for the longest unbeaten streak in classical chess at the elite level. Before he even turned 20, he was the youngest player to surpass a 2800 rating and reach the No.

Why is Praggnanandhaa famous? ›

In 2018, Praggnanandhaa became India's youngest Grandmaster and the world's second-youngest at the age of 12. Known for his exceptional skills and achievements, he is the fifth-youngest person ever to attain the title of Grandmaster.

What is the rank of Praggnanandhaa in chess? ›

GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu 2747 | #13

GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu is an Indian grandmaster who had one of the greatest youth careers in chess history. Praggnanandhaa, who only turned 18 years old in 2023, is one of the youngest grandmasters and world championship candidates ever.

Who is the greatest Indian chess player of all time? ›

Viswanathan Anand

Who is 14 year old chess player? ›

It may not be a record, but it is still a major achievement: the world has a new youngest grandmaster—14-year-old Ukrainian prodigy GM Ihor Samunenkov. The teenager's title has been confirmed by the world chess federation FIDE this month after he met all the requirements on September 26 last year.

Who is the 9 year old girl chess player? ›

9-Year-Old Bodhana Sivanandan Among Youngest Ever To Score WIM Norm. WCM Bodhana Sivanandan reached another milestone this weekend. She scored the best result of her career so far, achieving her first woman international master norm.

Who is the 12 year old chess grandmaster? ›

Abhimanyu Mishra of New Jersey, is a chess prodigy. On June 30th, 2021, he became the world's youngest chess Grandmaster, qualifying for the title at just 12 years old. Mishra was born to play chess.

Has Vidit ever beaten Magnus? ›

Gujrathi came up with the win while competing for the India Yogis in an online rapid chess tournament featuring 16 teams, the Pro Chess League. Vidit Gujrathi became only the fourth Indian chess player to beat reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen, when he came up with the win in a Pro Chess League match on Wednesday.

Who is the 5 year old chess player? ›

Tejas Tiwari, a young chess prodigy from India, has earned the prestigious title of being the world's youngest FIDE rated player. Remarkably, he accomplished this extraordinary feat at the incredibly tender age of five.

Who is the best chess magnus? ›

Magnus Carlsen's Best Games
  • Carlsen vs C Li, 2015. ...
  • Carlsen vs Ivanchuk, 2007. ...
  • Kramnik vs Carlsen, 2008. ...
  • F Vallejo Pons vs Carlsen, 2012. ...
  • J L Hammer vs Carlsen, 2003. ...
  • Carlsen vs Firouzja, 2021. ...
  • Naiditsch vs Carlsen, 2006. (C57) Two Knights, 54 moves, 0-1.
  • Carlsen vs Gelfand, 2013. (B30) Sicilian, 48 moves, 1-0.

How does Praggnanandhaa learn chess? ›

The story took a turn when young Pragnanandhaa while observing his sister play, piqued his curiosity in chess. His sister started to give him the basic lesson. Soon he was enrolled in chess coaching classes. By the age of seven 7, he earned the title of under-8 world champion.

What is the playing style of Praggnanandhaa? ›

Praggnanandhaa's gameplay can be associated with the pragmatism style.

How did grandmasters get so good at chess? ›

They acclimate their mind by playing, studying and living chess hours upon hours every day. Of course, chess positions are almost limitless in number, but they have looked over thousands of masters games, they have played unimaginable number of games themselves and have tremendous experience in the positions they play.

Who is the weakest chess GM? ›

In the same week that the chess world lost a great in Viktor Korchnoi, the world's weakest Grandmaster Herman Suradiradja (cover and top) also passed away, aged 69.

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