Who is R Praggnanandhaa? Five interesting facts about him

Ankhi DuttaAnkhi Dutta

August 25 2023
R Praggnanandhaa
(Courtesy : Business Today)

He is also only second Indian to qualify for prestigious Candidates tournament.

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, an exceptional Indian chess prodigy who has already made a significant impact on the global chess stage despite his youth. At just 18 years old, R Praggnanandhaa has accomplished a remarkable feat, becoming only the second Indian player ever, following in the footsteps of the legendary Viswanathan Anand, to play the Chess World Cup Finals. He finished as runner-up in the FIDE World Cup 2023 after defeat to Magnus Carlsen, who clinched his maiden World Cup title.

Although he didn’t win the title eventually, Praggnanandhaa impressed everyone with his game and exceptional skills. His progression to the final also earned Chess prodigy a coveted spot in the prestigious Candidates tournament 2024 — an achievement only previously attained by the revered Indian Chess icon, Vishy Anand.

Born on August 10, 2005, in Chennai, India, Praggnanandhaa’s journey in the world of chess has been nothing short of extraordinary. Join us as we delve into the top five interesting facts of this budding chess grandmaster, as he continues to make waves and captivate the global chess community.

5. Became youngest International Master (IM) in 2016

Praggnanandhaa’s ascent in the chess world began with his incredible achievement of becoming the then youngest International Master ever. On March 8, 2016, at the tender age of 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days, he earned the coveted IM title. 

The young prodigy achieved his first grandmaster norm at the World Junior Chess Championship in November 2017, finishing fourth with eight points. He gained his second norm at the Heraklion Fischer Memorial GM Norm Tournament in Greece on 17 April 2018.

4. Became second youngest Grandmaster (GM) in 2017

Praggnanandhaa had already achieved his two norms at the World Junior Chess Championship in 2017 and Heraklion Fischer Memorial GM Tournament in Greece in 2018. It was his turn to take the final norm and earn the Grandmaster title.

Building upon his early success, Praggnanandhaa continued to make waves in the chess world by achieving the title of Grandmaster by defeating Luca Moroni in Gredine Open in Turkey in the eighth round to become, at the age of 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, the then second-youngest person to achieve the rank of grandmaster on June 23, 2018. 

Sergey Karjakin from Russia is the current youngest at 12 years and 7 months.

3. Second Youngest to reach 2600 rating

Praggnanandhaa won the World Youth Chess Championship Under-8 title in 2013, earning him the title of FIDE Master. He won the under-10 title in 2015.

His dominance extended beyond age-specific titles, as he proved his prowess on the international stage. On 12 October 2019, he won the World Youth Championships in the Under-18 section with a score of 9/11. 

In December 2019, he became the second-youngest person to achieve a rating of 2600. He did this at the age of 14 years, 3 months and 24 days.

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2. Youngest player to defeat five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen

This young Chess talent has also caused one major upset that shook the Chess world. The Online Airthings Masters 2022 saw R. Praggnanandhaa triumph over World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

He defeated Carlsen at the eighth round of Airthings Masters in February 2022, which is an online rapid Chess competition and at the age of 16 to become the youngest to defeat Carlsen since his crowning as a Champion in 2013. Praggnanandhaa also went on to defeat the Norwegian in the fifth round of the Chessable Masters online rapid chess tournament three months later.

He thus became the third Indian after the great Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna to defeat Magnus Carlsen. These triumphs not only bolstered his confidence but also signalled his arrival as a prominent figure in the world of chess.

1. Youngest player ever to reach Chess World Cup Final

The Indian prodigy defeated World No. 3 Fabiano Caruana in a tie breaker of FIDE World Cup semifinals to advance in the finals with the scores 3.5 -2.5. With this he became the youngest player ever and the only second Indian after Vishy Anand to reach the Chess World Cup Finals.

Praggnanandhaa’s spot in the final also earned him a place in 2024 Candidates Tournament, which will determine the challenger in the 2024 World Chess Championship. He is also the first Indian since 2016 to qualify for the Candidates.

From breaking records to competing at the highest echelons of the game, he has left an indelible imprint on the chess community. As he continues to grow and evolve as a player, the chess world eagerly anticipates Praggnanandhaa’s future endeavours and the impact he will undoubtedly continue to make on the game he loves.

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