Who is R Praggnanandhaa? Facts and achievements of Chess World Cup finalist

Shaunak GhoshShaunak Ghosh

March 7 2022
(Courtesy : The Indian Express)

He is only the second Indian to qualify for the Candidates Tournament.

R Praggnanandhaa has become only the second Indian after the legendary Viswanathan Anand to reach the final of a Chess World Cup. The 18-year-old Grandmaster achieved the feat after defeating World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana in the tie-breaker of the ongoing FIDE World Cup semifinals to set up a final date with the top-ranked Magnus Carlsen. As a result of reaching the final, Praggnanandhaa will also now feature in the Candidates tournament next year — once again only the second Indian after Vishy Anand to achieve that feat.

Praggnanandhaa burst into the limelight after defeating then World Chess champion Magnus Carlsen in the Airthings Masters. As the young Praggnanandhaa scripts history and keeps adding to his illustrious feather even in such a young career, here are five things to know about him.

6. Won the World Youth Chess Championship in 2013

The first success of R. Praggnanandhaa came in 2013. The Tamil Nadu lad won his maiden trophy at the Youth Chess Championships in Al-Ain (UAE).

he won the trophy in the U-8 category in the boys division. He was 7-years-old at the time. The championship victory also earned him the title of FIDE Master. He followed it up by winning the tournament again in 2015. This time it was in the U-10 category in Porto Carras, Greece.

5. Became youngest International Master in 2016

R. Praggnanandhaa became the youngest International Master in 2016. He was just 10 years, 10 months and 19 days old when he attained this momentous feat.

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

However becoming an International Master was just a start for even greater things to come.

4. Became second-youngest Grandmaster

R. 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.

That is exactly what he did at the Gredine Open in Urtijëi, Italy. He defeated Luca Moroni in the eighth round to become, at the age of 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, the second-youngest person to achieve the rank of grandmaster. Sergey Karjakin is the youngest at 12 years and 7 months.

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3. Won the Xtracon Chess Open in Denmark in 2019

In July 2019, R. Praggnanandhaa added another feather to his cap. He won the Xtracon Chess Open in Denmark The Indian wonderkid started out as the 21st seed, but with a performance rating of 2741, finished the tournament convincingly.

He finished a half point ahead of the pack of five players who were all higher rated than him. However, the Indian chess maestro did face some stiff competition in the last round against GM Samuel Sevian of the USA. The marathon encounter saw a total of 73 moves.

Though he was not at his best in that match, he managed to salvage a draw eventually, courtesy his fantastic defensive skills.

2. Third Indian player to beat World Champion Magnus Carlsen

R Praggnanandhaa faced Magnus Carlsen at the Tata Steel Chess Open 2022 (Courtesy: TATA Chess Open)

The online Airthings Masters 2022. saw R. Praggnanandhaa triumph over Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Even though he started off with a disadvantage playing with black, Praggnanandhaa didn’t let the colours dictate the proceedings and won the contest.

He thus became the third Indian after the great Vishwanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna to defeat Magnus Carlsen. He also became the youngest player to ever defeat the reigning world champion.

1. Only second Indian to reach FIDE World Cup final

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa defeated World No. 3 Fabiano Caruana in the tie-breaker of the FIDE World Cup semi-finals to advance to the final. He will meet number one ranked Magnus Carlsen in the title clash. By virtue of reching the final, Praggnanandhaa has also confirmed his place in the Candidates Tournament.

He has become only the second Indian after Vishy Anand to achieve the milestone of reaching a Chess World Cup final and also qualifying for the 2024 Candidates tournament. Praggnanandhaa is also the first Indian since 2016 to qualify for the Candidates tournament.

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