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Child chess prodigy hopes to become youngest ever grandmaster aged 11

by Sagar Shah - 12/01/2017

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa learnt to play chess before he could even read and now wants to take the coveted record from Russian Sergey Karjakin. When little Pragga went to London to play in the London Chess Classic, correspondents from various British newspapers queued up to interview him. We reproduce the one that was published in the "Mirror". After the interview you can check out the game where Pragga swindled another GM at the Hastings Master.

This interview was taken by Nicola Fifield for Mirror

An 11-year-old chess prodigy is in London to chase his dream of becoming the youngest ever Grandmaster. The Sunday People understand that Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa learnt to play chess aged three before he could even read.

Praggnanandhaa at the Olympia in Kensington, London (picture by Lennart Ootes)

And now he has his eyes set on beating Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin’s long-standing world record of achieving the coveted title at the age of 12 years and seven months.


“I don’t know why I’m good at chess, I just really enjoy it,” said the modest schoolboy, who is so skilled he can even play the game blindfold. “I like the tactics and calculating all the different possibilities.”

Calculation is Praggnanandhaa's forte (picture by Lennart Ootes)

Neither of Praggnanandhaa’s parents play chess, but his 15-year-old sister Vaishali is a Woman International Master. “I saw my sister playing when I was three and wanted to play too,” he said. “Now I play for three or four hours every day after school in an academy. I want to become the World Champion as soon as possible.”

Although Pragga's mother Nagalakshmi doesn't understand chess, she accompanies him to every tournament

But despite his prodigious talent, Praggnanandhaa is in many ways just like any other schoolboy and loves riding his bike and watching cartoons. He will be an inspiration to the thousands of British schoolchildren attending the London Chess Classic over the next week to play games against each other.

The next Vishy Anand!

The above interview was done by Nicola Fifield for Mirror

Vishy Anand on Praggnanandhaa

by Sagar Shah


When Vishy Anand was in Mumbai for the IIFLW tournament a reporter asked him about his assessment of R. Praggnanandhaa, and whether the attention that the 11-year-old is receiving currently is good for him. To which Anand replied, "He has attracted world wide attention. Everyone is, infact I should say everyone is trying to say his name! (smiles) He has really captured people's imagination. He still has a lot of time to make progress. He is already showing a lot of signs of progress, but it is a long hard route.


As for the attention that he is getting, I think it will be very useful. It will open many doors. For youngsters often the problem is finding the right tournaments to play and compete. For him this wouldn't be a problem."

Beating another grandmaster

Praggnanandhaa made the headlines when he beat GM Axel Bachmann in the last round of the Isle of Man International. At the Hastings Masters 2016-17 it was GM Allan Stig Rasmussen who had to bite the dust. Once again it was in the last round. I guess grandmasters who are going to play little Pragga in the final round of future tournaments must tread very carefully.

Allan Stig Rasmussen is Praggnanandhaa's latest GM scalp (Photo by Brendan O’Gorman)
[Event "Hastings Masters 2016/17"]
[Site "Horntye Park Sports Complex, B"]
[Date "2017.01.05"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Praggnanandhaa, R."]
[Black "Rasmussen, Allan Stig"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2452"]
[BlackElo "2502"]
[Annotator "Shah,Sagar"]
[PlyCount "87"]
[EventDate "2016.12.28"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[WhiteClock "0:44:41"]
[BlackClock "0:47:27"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 Bf5 4. O-O {When I was young I was taught that
these moves should be played no matter what your opponent does. It was an
insurance against losing quickly in the opening. For players like
Praggnanandhaa this is more like trying to get an original non theoretical
position.} e6 5. d3 h6 6. Nbd2 Be7 7. b3 (7. Qe1 {is the other way to play
preparing e4.}) 7... O-O 8. Bb2 a5 9. a3 c5 10. a4 {Stops Black from playing
a4.} Nc6 11. Re1 Bh7 12. e4 Re8 13. Qe2 Nb4 14. Rac1 Nd7 15. h4 Qb8 16. Nh2 d4
17. e5 Ra6 18. Nc4 {Over the past few moves both players have made a few
decisions and it seems as if the position has transormed slightly in White's
favour. The knight on c4 is well placed and the bishop on g2 has an open
diagonal. Black's bishop on h7 is hitting a look solid structure of c2 and d3
and the same is the case with bishop on b2. Overall it's an interesting
position.} b5 19. axb5 Qxb5 20. Ra1 a4 21. bxa4 Rxa4 22. Nf1 Nb6 23. Na3 (23.
Nxb6 Rxa1 24. Rxa1 Qxb6 $15) 23... Qd7 24. Reb1 c4 $1 {Rasmussen plays really
well and has taken over the initiative.} 25. Nxc4 Nxc4 26. dxc4 Rxa1 (26...
Nxc2 $1 27. Rxa4 d3 $1 28. Qf3 Qxa4 $17) 27. Bxa1 Nxc2 28. Rb7 Qc8 29. Bb2 d3 (
29... Bc5 $15) 30. Qf3 Kf8 31. Qf4 Bf5 32. g4 g5 33. hxg5 Bxg5 34. Qh2 Bxg4 35.
f4 {The position becomes extremely complex and Praggnanandhaa likes it!} Qc5+
36. Kh1 Qf2 37. fxg5 Ne1 $2 (37... Bf3 $1 38. Rxf7+ $1 (38. Qxh6+ Kg8 $19)
38... Kxf7 39. Qf4+ Kg8 40. Qxf3 Qxf3 41. Bxf3 hxg5 $11 {The position is
around even.}) 38. Ba3+ (38. g6 $1 $18) 38... Kg8 39. Rb2 Be2 40. gxh6 Nc2 $2 (
40... Nf3 $1 41. Qg3+ Qxg3 42. Nxg3 d2 43. Rxd2 Nxd2 44. Nxe2 Nxc4 $11) 41. h7+
Kg7 42. Be7 $1 Bf3 {A bit too late.} 43. Bf6+ Kg6 44. Bxf3 {A very complicated
game where Rasmussen played well for most part of it, but in the end blundered
and had to bite the dust.} (44. Bxf3 Qxf3+ 45. Qg2+ Qxg2+ 46. Kxg2 Kxh7 47. Nd2
$18) 1-0

R. Praggnanandhaa played a great tournament in Hastings scoring 6.5/9, remaining unbeaten and finishing third! A superb performance which gained him ten Elo points, even though his rating is as high as 2452.

We have been covering Praggnanandhaa's journey since a year and in these articles you can get a flavour of what the little boy has achieved in 365 days.



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