Chess lovers in India are thrilled that R Praggnanandhaa will compete against world number one Magnus Carlsen in the World Cup final.
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 18, will face the five-time world champion after beating Fabiano Caruana in a difficult match to advance to the Baku, Azerbaijan final.
It comes more than a year after Praggnanandhaa stunned the chess community by defeating Carlsen in an online elite rapid chess competition. He did so by outplaying the Norwegian, who had held the title of world champion since 2013 and was the youngest player to do so.
The Chess Prodigy
The teen is now the third-youngest participant in the Candidates Tournament, which will be held the following year to select a contender for the title of world champion. When they were both 16 years old, Carlsen and American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer had already qualified for the competition.
When he achieved the youngest International Master in the game’s history, he was only 10 years old. Two years later, in 2018, he achieved the second-youngest grandmaster title in chess history. He became just the third Indian to overcome the Norwegian grandmaster when he overcame Carlsen at the Airthings Masters, an online quick tournament, last year.
“I think maybe some people see me (as a role model),” he said. “I don’t know, because I think for me, all the top players are role models because each one has different qualities to learn from. And if someone can learn something from me, that’s good.”
Making of The Prodigy
Hailing from Chennai, known as India’s ” chess capital, ” R Praggnanandhaa started the game at just 2 years old. His interest peaked as his older sister, Vaishali, played the game, as a 6-year-old. Vaishali also became a grandmaster and an international master in 2021.
He finished second in the Indian championships for under-7s at the age of 6, took home the gold at the Asian Championships, and then won the under-8 and under-10 World Youth Chess Championships.
After winning his ninth-round match at the KIIT International Chess Festival in Bhubaneswar, India, in 2016, he then made chess history.
Praggnanandhaa received his third international master norm, a recognition for excellence in performance at a competition. He achieved the youngest-ever status of international chess master at the age of 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days after having already acquired two previous norms.