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On his 12th birthday Praggnanandhaa gifts himself 2500 Elo!

by Sagar Shah - 11 August 2017

On 10th of August Praggnanandhaa turned 12 years old. Sergey Karjakin achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 12 years and seven months. Pragg has seven months left to become world's youngest GM. He made tangible progress in that direction by scoring 6.0/7 at the Hogeschool Zeeland tournament in Vlissingen, Netherlands. With that he has a rating performance of 2653. He is well and truly on his way to making his maiden GM norm. He has also gained 13.7 Elo points and has crossed 2500 mark in the live ratings.

Photos by HZ Toernooi


R. Praggnanandhaa, world's youngest IM, made major strides towards becoming world's youngest GM when he crossed 2500 Elo mark on the live rating list. It was a great co-incidence that Pragg was able to achieve this feat on his 12th birthday on 10th of August 2017.

Praggnanandhaa celebrating his twelfth birthday by doing what he likes to do the best - play chess!

Pragg is one of the leaders after seven rounds with 6.0/7. Check the complete standings here.
Individual scorecard: five wins and two draws against GM Konstantin Landa and GM Daniel Hausrath

GM Jayson Gonzalez was a victim to Praggnanandhaa's technique in the seventh round as the young boy kept threatening him on one side of the board and then the other!
Although Pragg played a very nice game, he missed a very beautiful tactic. Black has just moved his knight to a5. It's White to play and win.
[Event "Hogeschool Zeeland 2017"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.08.10"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Praggnanandhaa"]
[Black "Gonzalez, Jayson"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2378"]
[BlackElo "2487"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2017.08.11"]
[SourceVersionDate "2017.08.11"]

1. e4 {It's nice to see Pragg going for the main lines and not his usual Reti
stuff with 1.Nf3} c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O {Playing
the most ambitious Short variation with white.} Ne7 7. Nbd2 Bg6 8. Ne1 (8. Nb3
{Might be more common, but Pragg wants to shuffle his pieces with the knight
d2 coming to f3 and e1 going to d3.}) 8... c5 9. c3 Nc6 10. Ndf3 Qb6 11. Nd3
cxd4 12. cxd4 Be7 13. Be3 O-O 14. Nf4 Rac8 (14... Qxb2 15. Nxg6 hxg6 16. Rb1
Qxa2 17. Rxb7 $14) 15. Nxg6 fxg6 (15... hxg6 16. Qd2 {leads to a position
similar to the game, but more passivity for Black.}) 16. Rb1 {White has a
typical advantage of bishop pair. Not so easy to prove something quickly as it
is a closed position. But you can be sure that Pragg will torture his opponet.}
a5 17. Ne1 Rfe8 18. g3 {look how slowly and steadily Pragg improves his
position.} Bf8 19. h4 Ne7 20. Ng2 Nb8 (20... Nf5 21. Bg4 $14) 21. a3 Nbc6 22.
g4 {limiting the other knight from coming to f5.} Nd8 23. Nf4 Nec6 24. Kg2 Rc7
25. Rh1 {Pragg is enjoying himself and is building up the attack nicely.} Rf7
26. Nh3 (26. h5 $1 {would have been the right time to strike.} g5 27. Nh3 h6
28. Qd3 $18 {With the queen coming to g6 and sacrifices looming large on g5,
it already looks very bleak for Black.}) 26... Be7 27. Ng5 Bxg5 28. hxg5 {
Now it's not easy to open the kingside, but the open h-file and queenside play
gives White enough opportunities to break through.} Nb8 29. Bd3 Nd7 30. b4 axb4
31. axb4 Nc6 32. b5 Na5 {[%cal Gc6a5]} 33. Qc2 (33. Rxh7 $3 {Very unlike Pragg
to miss such a tactic.} Kxh7 34. Bxg6+ $3 Kxg6 (34... Kg8 35. Bxf7+ Kxf7 36.
Qf3+ Ke7 37. g6 Rf8 38. Bg5+ Ke8 39. Qa3 $18) 35. Qh1 $3 $18 {This is the
difficult move to see. And it's a forced mate.} (35. Qd3+ Rf5 $17)) 33... Nf8 (
33... Nc4 $1 34. Bxc4 dxc4 35. Qxc4 Qd8 $11 {And with Nb6-d5, Black should be
fine.}) 34. Qe2 Rc8 35. Rhc1 Rxc1 36. Rxc1 Rc7 37. Rxc7 Qxc7 {White still has
the advantage, but it is much smaller now.} 38. Bd2 Nd7 (38... Nc4 39. Bb4 $16)
39. Bb4 b6 40. Qd1 Nc4 41. Qc2 Kf7 42. Kg3 (42. Qa2 $18) 42... Ndxe5 {Perhaps
desperation, but Black felt it was his chance to wriggle out from the
incessant pressure since the opening.} 43. dxe5 Qxe5+ 44. Kf3 Qh2 45. Bxc4 Qh3+
46. Kf4 Qh2+ 47. Ke3 Qe5+ 48. Kf3 {The checks have ended and White is just a
piece up.} Qd4 49. Bxd5 Qxd5+ 50. Qe4 {A very matured game by Pragg.} 1-0

You know he is enjoying the game, when he get's into his favourite pose!
Praggnanandhaa's win against the talented Dutch IM Thomas Beerdsen was quite interesting. The boy was well prepared, knew his theory and was able to wade through the complications much better than his opponent.
[Event "21st HZ Open 2017"]
[Site "Vlissingen NED"]
[Date "2017.08.07"]
[Round "4.6"]
[White "Beerdsen, Thomas"]
[Black "Praggnanandhaa, R."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C58"]
[WhiteElo "2447"]
[BlackElo "2487"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "38"]
[EventDate "2017.08.05"]
[EventType "swiss"]
{Beerdsen Thomas is a strong player. Pragg winning in 19 moves is a great feat.
} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6
8. Bd3 Nd5 9. h4 {This is the modern line and a very popular one.} Be7 10. Qf3
f5 $1 {Pragg knows his theory.} 11. Nc3 $2 {A bad move by Beerdsen, already
giving Black a very strong position.} (11. Bxf5 Rf8 12. Qh5+ g6 13. Bxg6+ hxg6
14. Qxg6+ Kd7 {is how the mainline goes. It's a mess here and anyone could be
better.} 15. d3 Kc7 $13) 11... O-O $1 {Simple play by Pragg.} 12. Nxd5 cxd5 13.
b4 $5 (13. Qh5 h6 14. Qg6 hxg5 15. hxg5 Bxg5 {White doesn't have the attacking
chances.}) 13... Bxb4 (13... Nc6 14. Qh5 h6 15. Qg6 {Attacking the knight on
c6 that is undefended.} hxg5 16. hxg5 Qe8 17. Qh7+ Kf7 18. Bxf5 {leads to an
unclear position.}) (13... h6 {was the best move.} 14. Qh5 (14. bxa5 e4 15. Qh5
exd3 16. Qg6 Bxg5 17. hxg5 Qe7+ 18. Kf1 Qe2+ 19. Kg1 Qe1+ 20. Kh2 Qe5+ 21. Kg1
Qxa1 $19) 14... Nc4 $17) 14. Bb2 $2 (14. Qh5 $1 h6 15. Qg6 hxg5 16. hxg5 {
And it is not clear here, who is better.} Qe8 17. Qh7+ Kf7 18. Rb1 {White has
a very strong attack.}) 14... Qd6 15. Qh5 h6 16. Kf1 Bd7 17. f4 e4 18. Be5 Qc6
19. Rh3 Be8 {The queen is pushed back, everything in White's camp is hanging.
Black wins.} 0-1

In case you would like to know the latest word in theory in the two knight's defence, we have an excellent DVD on the subject from the black side by GM Erwin l'Ami.

All of you wondering what Pragg's secret to success is - it's a bar of chocolate, a banana and truckloads of concentration!

Against strong GMs Konstantin Landa (2623) and Daniel Hausrath (2491) Pragg seems to be employing safety first approach as he drew both his games in 15 and 17 moves respectively

[Event "21st HZ Open 2017"]
[Site "Vlissingen NED"]
[Date "2017.08.08"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Praggnanandhaa, R."]
[Black "Landa, Konstantin"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B41"]
[WhiteElo "2487"]
[BlackElo "2623"]
[PlyCount "30"]
[EventDate "2017.08.05"]
[EventType "swiss"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Be2 Nf6 6. Nc3 Qc7 7. O-O Bb4 8.
Qd3 Nc6 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. f4 d5 12. e5 Ng8 13. Qg3 g6 14. Bxe7 Nxe7
15. Na4 a5 1/2-1/2

Black against GM Daniel Hausrath 
[Event "21st HZ Open 2017"]
[Site "Vlissingen NED"]
[Date "2017.08.09"]
[Round "6.4"]
[White "Hausrath, Daniel"]
[Black "Praggnanandhaa, R."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A05"]
[WhiteElo "2491"]
[BlackElo "2487"]
[PlyCount "34"]
[EventDate "2017.08.05"]
[EventType "swiss"]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O Bf5 5. d3 e6 6. b3 h6 7. Bb2 Be7 8. Nbd2
O-O 9. c4 Bh7 10. a3 a5 11. Ra2 Nbd7 12. Qa1 Re8 13. Rb1 Bd6 14. Ne5 Nxe5 15.
Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Qxe5 Qb6 17. h3 Bg6 1/2-1/2

In seven rounds Pragg has a performance of 2653. You need a 2600 performance in nine rounds to make a GM norm. He is up against GM Benjamin Bok in the eighth round. 1.0/2 should be enough to seal his maiden GM norm. We wish him all the best for that.

Round 1 - Pragg's opponent has just moved the queen to b4. He had to resign the next move! You see the reason, of course!

Round two: Retreating the knight leads to a fatal blow. Praggnanandhaa (Black) to play.

White (Pragg) is clearly better. If I had the white pieces, my mind would be revolving around the central breakthrough or kingside play. But Pragg went for the surprising Rd2, followed by Rc1 and queenside pressure on the c7 pawn. This is something unique in his play. He is able to use the entire board, and switch from one plan to another without losing much time.

The playing hall of the Hogeschool Zeeland tournament

Sergey Karjakin became world's youngest GM in the year 2002 at the age of 12 years and 7 months. 15 years later, an Indian boy from Chennai has realistic chances of breaking the record. Two GM norms (assuming Pragg gets his first norm here) in seven months seems like a very realistic and achievable task.

Sheer talent, hard work, and genius all rolled into one. Happy 12th birthday, Pragg!
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