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One year ago - Pragga became the youngest IM in the world!

by Sagar Shah - 30/05/2017

On 29th May 2016, R. Praggnanandhaa won his ninth round game at the KIIT International Open, Bhubaneshwar against Al Muthaiah. This win secured him his third IM norm and as he had already surpassed 2400 on the rating list, he became the youngest International Master in the World at the age of ten years and ten months. We cannot believe that it is already one year since this feat. Sagar Shah talks about an incident with Pragga at the Aeroflot Open and the reason why he thinks the boy will become one of the best in the world. We also have a very nice Tamil interview of Pragga by Tarun Kanth with an English transcript.

R. Praggnanandhaa - the future of Indian chess

It was the closing ceremony of the Aeroflot Open in February 2016. Evgeniy Najer and Boris Gelfand had won the event and I was busy with taking pictures and interviews of the winners. Ten minutes after the end of the closing ceremony, all the participants had exited, but there was still some noise in the hall.

I turned back and saw a group of three young kids playing, dancing, shouting and simply enjoying chess! I went closer and there they were - the future of Indian chess Aravindh Chithambaram, R. Vaishali and R. Praggnanandhaa! They were playing bullet chess.

While Pragga took on Aravindh, Vaishali was carefully watching her brother's moves.

They were having a lot of fun but the competitive spirit was there. Both Aravindh and Praggu hate to lose! In the end Pragg's flag fell and the game came to an end.

Pragga's reaction when he realized that he was losing the game!

And guess what they did next? They immediately arranged the pieces and started another game! Their enthusiasm of playing the game was so infectious that I didn't want to be left out. I jumped in and joined Aravindh as we played chess doubles!

Some day in the future I will share this picture saying, it was nice to be in the company of three World Champions!

It was so much fun to see the brother sister duo in action. Overall it was the perfect atmosphere to enjoy chess. No one was making loose moves because winning was important but at the same time no one was so competitive that they wanted to win at all costs!

Today, as one year passes by of R. Praggnanandhaa's achievement of becoming world's youngest IM in the history of our game I think back to those five minutes of bullet session in Moscow. The hall was empty, the tournament was over but little Pragga kept playing chess. He had made his second IM norm and could have very well decided to celebrate with a nice meal with his family and friends but instead he decided to play chess!


There is nothing in the world that he likes more than chess and there is nothing he would do other than move the 32 pieces on the chequered board. Such is his love and dedication for the game. International Master at the age 10 years and 10 months and 2471 at 11 years and 10 months! Isn't it unreal?! The little boy has a long way to go and there are high chances that he will break the record of world's youngest GM.


Praggnandhaa's achievement teaches us one very important thing - if you do something with 100% dedication and passion without any distractions, there is absolutely no way that you will not succeed!

Some unseen photos of R. Praggnanandhaa

I dream to be the youngest IM in the world!
...well, maybe youngest World Champion!
Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali!

Interviews with Praggnanandhaa

When Pragga became an IM on 29th May 2016, ChessBase India ensured that the moment was well documented by articles as well as interviews taken of the young boy. The interview done by Rupali Mullick has over 16,000 hits on youtube. You can watch that interview here. There was another interview done on the same day, by Pragga's friend and chess mate Tarun Kanth. This interview was in Tamil and has not been released on the ChessBase India newspage before. Here's the video with the English transcript below. 

Don't miss this extremely cute video where the two boys are having so much fun!

Transcript in English

Tarun Kanth (TK): Hello Everyone, I am Tarun V Kanth from Tamil Nadu, an upcoming chess player. We have with us another player from my academy, coached by GM RB Ramesh. Now I am going to ask him a few questions which every kid in the world wants to know. Ok Prag, why do you like RB Ramesh?

R.Praggnanandhaa (RP): RB Ramesh makes the class fun as he tells lot of jokes. The class atmosphere is very jovial and we learn a lot from him.


TK: Can you tell any one joke of his?

RP: I like a lot of his jokes.


TK: But tell me any one joke of his that you like.

RP:  I cannot recollect anyone right now.


TK: Okay, How did you prepare for this tournament?

RP: I didn’t prepare anything special for the tournament. It was like any other tournament. I prepared middle games, end games, etc.


TK: All the kids when playing with GMs have fear. You seem to be very cool while playing with them.

RP: I...GM.....(laughs). I like to play with high rated players, GMs. So I have no fear!


TK: Now you are the youngest IM in the world. You have achieved something great. How do you feel about this achievement?

RP:  I am very happy.


TK:  How are you going to celebrate?

RP:  I will go with my parents to a temple and then to my grandma's place.


TK:  Is that all?

RP: Yes, that's all!


TK: Where is your sister, Vaishali?

RP: She is in Uzbekistan, playing the Asian Continental Championship.


TK: How much time do you spend daily on chess?

RP: 4 to 5 hours.


TK: Everyone wants to know, how is it that you alone could achieve the title of youngest IM in the world? Can you give us some advice?

RP: I work hard and I enjoy playing chess.


TK: So if you enjoy playing chess, then you can play well?

RP: You have to work very hard to play well in chess, enjoy every game and play strong.


TK: What should be the attitude of players while playing chess with high rated players?

RP: You should take risks while playing, and find good moves in all the games.


TK: Prag, you have become very famous now, by becoming the youngest IM in the world, do you feel normal, or are you proud of your achievement?

RP: I am proud of my achievement.


TK: When are you planning to become a GM? Any time limit?

RP: By Dec 2016.


TK: What is your ultimate aim in chess?

RP: I want to achieve an ELO rating of 3000 (Both laugh)


TK: How do you feel, if you are invited to play a tournament like Shamkir?

RP: Oh, it will be great!



TK: Magnus Carlsen is 25 years old today, and became World Champion at the age of 23. Do you have any aim of becoming the World champion before you turn 23?

RP:  No, I don’t have any such aim.


TK: Now you are going to play the upcoming tournament in Russia. What will be your attitude and aim?

RP:  I will play cool and enjoy the games. I will have to play good moves.


TK: Nowadays you play lot of new openings. How do you remember all of them?

RP: I do not memorize my openings. I play my pieces as per the position on the board.


TK: You are the one who answers all the moves in our class. How are you able to do this?

RP:  I keep thinking and keep answering.


TK: What is the time limit that you like to play in games?

RP: 10 seconds + 1 second increment.


TK: When you play Blitz, do you play for a win?

RP: No, I never think about the result.


TK: Lot of kids are going to watch this video, what are you going to advice them?

RP: You should play well, do not fear anyone, and enjoy the game. Work hard.


TK: Everyone talks about playing high rated players. How should you play against low rated players?

RP: Even with low rated players, you have to play with the same attitude, and take risks, as with higher rated opponents.


TK: What is the role of your parents in your playing chess?

RP: They help me a lot.


TK: Do you follow all the advice given by your coach RB Ramesh?

RP: Yes, I do.


TK: How do you fantastically handle pressure in middle and end games?

RP: I do the right calculations.


TK: What do you work mostly on chess, at home.

RP: All – openings, middle and endgames equally.


TK: Why do you enjoy 10s + 1s games?

RP: Its fun to play spontaneous moves.


TK: Which form of rating in chess do you like: Std, Rapid or Blitz?

RP: I like Standard and Rapid more as compared to Blitz.


TK:  How will it be when you play with Magnus Carlsen?

RP: It will be fun and I will not think about the result!!


TK: Thank you Praggnanandhaa for this interview.


Translation done by Dr. Swarna V. Kanth, mother of chess player and interviewer, Tarun V Kanth. Swarna is a PhD in Technology (leather) from Anna University. She is a principal scientist and heads the Centre for Human and Organizational Resources Development at CSIR- Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai.


Coverage on ChessBase India about Praggnanandhaa:

Back to back IM norms for Praggnanandhaa

Video of second IM norm

Anish Giri imitating Praggnanandhaa

Praggnanandhaa - International Master

My aim is to reach 3000 Elo

How to mate a 2645 opponent in one hour

Praggnanandhaa in Reyk - the boy is turning into a man!


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