Praggnanandhaa Claims Candidates Seat Amidst WC Runner-Up Finish


In the World Cup final tie-breaker, Praggnanandhaa went down fighting to world No. 1 by rating and former world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway….reports Asian Lite News

Though Indian chess Grandmaster (GM) R. Praggnanandhaa finished runner-up in the strong FIDE World Cup held at Baku in Azerbaijan on Wednesday, the 18-year-old chess prodigy booked his seat in the Candidates Tournament to be held in Canada next year.

In the World Cup final tie-breaker, Praggnanandhaa went down fighting to world No. 1 by rating and former world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

Interestingly, for both the players, it was their maiden World Cup outing with one winning the Cup, and the other finishing second.

With this, Praggnanandhaa (ELO rating 2,707), ranked fourth in the world in the juniors’ category, became the first Indian player after former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, the winner of which will challenge world champion Liren Ding of China.

“It was a very strong performance by Praggnanandhaa throughout the tournament. It was super impressive. He is a very humble and joyful guy who’s good to hang out with,” another young Indian GM, Arjun Erigaisi (19), who made it to the quarterfinals in Baku, told IANS.

Interestingly, Erigaisi, the world No. 5 in the juniors’ category, lost to Praggnanandhaa in the quarterfinal.

The two players used to go out for walks in the morning in Baku.

Not only for Praggnanandhaa, but also for other Indian chess players and lovers, the 2023 World Cup will remain a memorable one.

Enroute final, Praggnandhaa defeated world No. 2 and 3 — GM Hikaru Nakamura (2,787) and Fabiano Caruana (2,782) of the US — respectively.

Being the World Cup runner-up and entering the Candidates Tournament was the great double birthday present that Praggnanandhaa gave himself after celebrating the same on August 10 in Baku.

He got the IM title at the age of 10.

Incidentally, last August he had defeated Carlsen at the FTX Crypto Cup.

Praggnanandhaa’s achievement also ended the week filled with suspense and excitement for the Indians as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also successfully landed its moon lander on the lunar soil on Wednesday evening.

For Praggnanandhaa, it all started at his home watching his elder sister Woman GM R. Vaishali playing chess.

According to their mother R. Nagalakshmi, the two children breathe chess and nothing else and avoid other diversions. The siblings are also not interested in movies and television shows.

An Arjuna Awardee, Praggnanandhaa sports the sacred ash on his forehead and makes his first move after praying to the Almighty.

“He does not have any favourite Hindu deity. He just prays before making the first move,” Nagalakshmi said.

According to her, the two watch TV only while eating and they like home cooked food.

At home, the siblings play chess and also “discuss and dissect” other games.

Praggnanandhaa also plays table tennis, badminton and watches only nail-biting cricket match highlights.

“Praggnanandhaa’s style can be described as universal — neither aggressive nor defensive. But he makes the right moves at the right time,” GM R.B. Ramesh, who coaches the chess prodigy, had told IANS.

According to Ramesh, one of the striking features about Praggnanandhaa is that he is not emotional and takes things as they come.

Praggnanandhaa might win against a top player, but he would focus on performing well in the next round or tournament.

While the siblings decimate opponents, their parents juggle their work schedule to accompany their wards on domestic and international trips.

Nagalakshmi accompanies them a lot. But the issue crops up when the two have to play in different countries at the same time.

The accolades also come at a cost, as the family members have to skip several social functions.

ALSO READ: Praggnanandhaa’s FIDE World Cup Run Ends in Final Against Carlsen

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