Phenom Praggnanandhaa ties for 1st at Gredine Chess Open, earns final GM norm!


Final standings (top 40)

Venkatachari Jagannathan

Chennai, June 24: Chennai boy and world's second youngest chess Grand Master (GM) -- R.Praggnanandhaa on Sunday won the final round against Dutch GM Roeland Pruijssers and finished second in the 4th Gredine Open held in Italy.

Scoring 7.5 points out of 9 points Praggnanandhaa (ELO rating 2,529) tied for the first position with Croatian GM Ivan Saric (ELO 2,685) but was placed second in the tiebreak score.

"It was a tough tournament. I played the tournament in a normal manner and did not aim for the top slot," Praggnanandhaa told IANS over phone from Italy.

"I felt very happy on getting the final GM norm. Now the world chess body (FIDE) has to give the final nod for me to put the GM title before my name," he added.

The tournament turned out to be a twin delight for Praggnanandhaa as he became the second youngest chess player to become a GM at the age of 12 years and 10 months.

The world's youngest chess GM record is held by Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, who won the coveted title at 12 years and seven months.

"We are happy at the results. Praggnanandhaa got his GM norm and finished in the top jointly with another player," his father A.Ramesh Babu, a banker, told IANS here.

"I am yet to speak to him or to my daughter Woman International Master (WIM) R.Vaishali, who also played in the tournament, or to my wife, who has gone to Italy along with my kids," Babu said.

He said Ramco Group, Velammal School, and ONGC are extending financial support to Praggnanandhaa which is a great relief for the family.

Like any other 12 year old boy, Praggnanandhaa plays cricket with his age group boys and is also interested in cycling.

Looking back Babu said: "It all started when we put Vaishali in a chess coaching school. On seeing Vaishali playing at home, Praggnanandhaa too got interested."

"Soon the two started playing together inside our home and started winning tournaments outside," Babu added.

Vaishali finished 15th in the tournament with 5.5 points. A total of 81 players participated in the tournament with an average rating of 2,198.

"Praggnanandhaa's style can be described as universal style - not aggressive or defensive- but make the moves that are needed," GM R.B. Ramesh, the Indian chess Olympiad team coach, told IANS.

According to Ramesh, one of the plus points of Praggnanandhaa is that he is not emotional and takes things as it comes.

"He is strong in the middle and end game. Now that he has become a GM, Praggnanandhaa has to focus on his opening and time management," Ramesh explained.

"For Praggnanandhaa there is nothing much to worry about as he got his sponsors. He has to focus on time management-at times he gets into time trouble during the game- and chess openings," Ramesh added.