Who will be India's 50th grandmaster?
India got its first grandmaster in the form of Vishy Anand in 1988. Slowly the number increased with great talents of Indian chess like Barua, Thipsay, Kunte and others flowing in. Recently there has been a surge in chess popularity in the country and this is being shown in the sharp growth of grandmasters. We now have 49 GMs. The last one was Abhimanyu Puranik, making his final norm at the Abu Dhabi Masters. The million dollar question now is: Who will be India's 50th GM? We give you the candidates for the golden jubilee grandmaster!
Now the million dollar question on everyone's mind is: Who will be the 50th grandmaster from India? We pulled out some data from the FIDE website and these are our brightest hopes for future grandmasters (note all players are above 2400 Elo).
Next possibilties for GM in India:
|India no.||Name||Title||Rating||Birth year|
|40||Thejkumar, M. S.||m||2481||1981|
|47||Visakh N R||m||2458||1999|
|48||Prasanna Raghuram Rao||m||2455||1994|
|51||Vignesh N R||m||2448||1998|
|62||Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh||m||2410||1998|
|64||Sai Agni Jeevitesh, J||f||2404||1998|
|68||Girish, A. Koushik||m||2401||1997|
P. Karthikeyan - this man already has passed 2500 Elo and had also made his three GM norms. However, there has been some technical issues with his third GM norm. That's the reason why he is still an IM. Karthikeyan needs another foreign GM norm to become India's next GM.
I rate Thejkumar's chances of becoming the grandmaster the highest because he has all the GM norms and a live rating of 2492. He gained eight points at an open tournament in Sri Lanka and 3.5 at the National Challengers 2017 (from where he withdrew due to bad health). He will be taking part in the Kandy Open in Sri Lanka next and there are high chances that he would gain the required 8 Elo points. That being said, Thejkumar has been close to GM title since many years now. He achieved his GM norms nearly five years ago. It's highly commendable that he has been able to maintain his level of play and is still just a stone's throw away from the GM title. If he does it, he will become Karnataka's first GM.
The man who is in a race with Thej for becoming Karnataka's first GM and India's 50th is Stany G.A. The 24-year-old has crossed the rating barrier of 2500 and has one GM norm. He needs the other two norms to become a GM.
The youngest IM in the world R. Praggnanandhaa is trying to achieve the title of becoming the youngest GM in the world. By performing well at the Hoogoveens tournament in Vlissingen recently Praggnanandhaa has surpassed 2500 Elo mark. But he still has to make all his three norms. All that he needs are three good events. The boy could become India's 50th and also the youngest GM in the world!
India's other prodigious talent Nihal Sarin has a hefty rating of 2485 (-2 at the Abu Dhabi Masters). And he also has one GM norm. It is quite possible that Nihal finishes his title in the next few months.
I would rate one of these four players to have the best chance to become India's 50th grandmaster. There are a few more players who are also in the race:
Norms vs Ratings
A very important question asked by many people is: What is better - having the norms or reaching the rating threshold. Well, with my experience I would say, reaching the rating threshold is much better than having the norms. The reason is simple: You need only three good tournaments to achieve your norms, while you need to be playing consistently well over a long period of time in order to reach, let's say 2500 for the GM title.
That being said, having the norms has its own upside. You can play in any tournament and gain rating while for making norms you have to select only norm events. Currently there are only five to six open norm tournaments happening in India. For eg. Thejkumar has the norms, so now he doesn't have to think about the tournaments to play. He can go to any place and gain rating points.
I have seen many cases of people making three norms and not able to reach the rating threshold, but I haven't seen many who have made it to 2500 Elo and not become GMs. Well, who knows, with the new k factor = 40 rule, we might well witness the trend changing.
Top countries with highest number of grandmasters
The table below is sorted by the number of GMs – the first column gives you the ranking by average rating of the top ten players. For instance China is second because its top ten have an average rating of 2710. Germany, which has more than twice as many GMs, is in place 14, because the top ten GMs average just 2624. Clicking on a country will give you a list of all the titled players – it is long for Russia and Germany. These stats were provided by FIDE and represent the status for July 2017.
ChessBase India coverage on previous GMs of India:
We are proud to say that after ChessBase India came into existence India has created ten new GMs. Each of these grandmasters was covered on our newspage. These are the articles that were published immediately after a player achieving the title and many of them had images which were quite moving. Take for example the one below:
I might sound immodest when writing this, but the role of ChessBase India in the growth of chess in the country cannot be underestimated. Reading about various players, getting timely news and updates helps people to learn from others, motivates them to give their best, and last but not the least feel proud that they are newsworthy. Who knows, after reading this article someone would get inspired to become India's 50th grandmaster and surpass all the names mentioned above!
Articles on past GMs on ChessBase India
Interview with Swapnil Dhopade: 40th GM of India
S.L. Narayanan becomes India’s 41st grandmaster
42nd GM of India Shardul Gagare
44th GM of India K. Priyadharshan
Flash: Srinath Narayanan is India's 46th Grandmaster!
Himanshu Sharma is India's 47th GM and Haryana's first!
Breaking news: Anurag Mhamal is India's 48th grandmaster
India gets its 49th grandmaster - Abhimanyu Puranik!
Who do you think will be India's 50th GM? Do let us know in the comments section below. We will come back to this article to see who got it right when India does get its 50th GM.