An Indian boy has become the world’s second-youngest chess grandmaster, at the age of 12 years and 10 months.
Chennai native R. Praggnanandhaa missed out on the title of the youngest grandmaster ever by just three months – a distinction that is instead held by Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, who achieved the honor in 2002 aged 12 years and seven months.
Praggnanandhaa entered the exclusive club of pre-teen grandmasters on Saturday when he won his eighth round game against 18-year-old Italian grandmaster Luca Moroni at the Gredine Open in Ortisei, Italy.
The following day, Praggnanandhaa beat his final opponent, Dutch grandmaster Roeland Pruijssers, to cement his status and pave the way as a future chess superstar. He came second overall in the competition.
Describing Praggnanandhaa’s win as “extremely good news,” his coach RB Ramesh told CNN: “He is very cool about his performance. He loves the game a lot. He’s very passionate about it and very ambitious.”
The path to becoming a grandmaster
To become a grandmaster, a player needs to earn three norms – defined as a high level of performance in a tournament – and a 2500 rating.
Most international masters have a rating of between 2400 and 2500, and the higher rating band of 2500-2700 puts a player in the category of grandmaster. Players with a rating over 2700 can be considered contenders for the World Championship.
Praggnanandhaa was guaranteed a third norm irrespective of the result of the match.
The 12-year-old won his first norm at the World Junior Championships in Tarvisio in November 2017, and bagged his second after winning the Herkalion Fischer Memorial GM Norm tournament in Greece in April.
The world’s first female GM, Susan Polgar, took to Twitter to congratulate him, writing “India just produced the 2nd youngest chess GM in history!”
Ramesh, a coach at the Chess Gurukul in Chennai, has been guiding Praggnanandhaa since he was seven and a half years old. He has bright hopes for his future.
“In his mind, he is very clear that chess is going to play a major part in his life. He knows that he is good at the game, and he is talented and he is working very hard to become the world champion.”