If you have not taken note of the name Praggnanandhaa R. in recent times, it is time to pay more attention to him, at least in the future. Having won the under 8 and under 10 world chess championships in the past, his name is no longer restricted to the kids’ world. In fact, Praggnanandhaa, or Praggu for short, is a growing challenge in the chess world of adults.
Coming from a modest family, Praggu came into the limelight when at the tender age of 10 years, 10 months and 11 days, he became the world’s youngest International Master, thereby, erasing the name of Russia’s Judit Polgar from the record books who had become an IM at the age of 11 years — a record that had stood for 27 years. Having achieved two International Master norms at Cannes and Moscow, Praggu earned the unique distinction when he achieved his third and final International Master norm at Bhuvaneshwar. However, till date, Ukraine’s Sergey still holds the record for being the youngest Grand Master at the age of 12 years and 7 months.
On entering the race for the youngest Grand Master, Praggu had two names ahead of him. The first was to better the Indian record of 13 years 4 months and 22 days set up by Parimarjan Negi in 2006 and just ahead on the list was the Sergey Karjakin whose record had remained unchallenged since 2002. So the twelve and a quarter-year-old set course, in 2017, on a one and a half month, three-nation tour of Australia, Sweden and the USA to compete in as many Grand Master norm tournaments before attaining the age of 12 years and 7 months.
10 March 2018 was the deadline for Praggananandhaa to become the youngest-ever Grand Master. While he failed to make the deadline, he had his date with the honour when he did become a Grand Master on 24 June 2018 at the age of 12 years 10 months and 13 days to become the second youngest-ever and youngest-ever Indian to become a chess Grand Master. He became one when he defeated GM Moroni Luca Jr. in round 8 of the 4th Gredine Open, in Italy. Praggu finished in the second position in the event after defeating GM Roeland Pruijssers in the 9th round.
Gp Capt Achchyut Kumar has been associated with The Teenager Today for more than 50 years as a reader and contributor on varied topics. Having worked in the Indian Air Force and with Forbes & Company Limited, he is now a lawyer in Nainital High Court.