Teenage chess prodigy Praggnanandhaa stars in a cricket-loving country

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In a nation where more than a billion people’s heart and soul solely belongs to cricket, Rameshbabu Praggnandhaa was more interested in chess from the age of three. His sister Vaishali Rameshbabu was admitted to a chess academy by their father because of her TV addiction, and when he saw her practicing in her room, that is exactly when he fell in love with Chess, according to Praggnandhaa.

At first, he used to play chess by himself before starting to practice with her sister, who was her first role model in this game. At the age of seven, Praggnandhaa got the title of FIDE Master which is the third-highest title for a chess player after the titles of Grandmaster and International Master. 

Just after three years, he became the International Master and became the youngest player ever to achieve this enormous feat. In 2018, two years later, Praggnandhaa became the youngest Indian to achieve the Title of Grandmaster and the fifth-youngest to do so. 

This year in February, the 16-year-old prodigy beat currently the world’s most prominent chess players Magnus Carlsen in the Airthings Masters in the online rapid chess competition.

Cricketing legend Sachin Tendular congratulated the youngest champion via a tweet:

What a wonderful feeling it must be for Pragg. All of 16, and to have beaten the experienced & decorated Magnus Carlsen, and that too while playing black, is magical! Best wishes on a long & successful chess career ahead. You’ve made India proud!

Praggnanandhaa was playing against Carlsen when it was past 1 in India. The teenager was exhausted, and the five-time world champion from Norway was in better spirits. Praggnanandhaa was playing his fourth game of the night, and the last three of them resulted in one win, one loss and another draw. But when in 33 minutes of the game, 31 moves were completed, the boy took over the game, and it took him 7 moves to defeat the world’s best chess player.

The teenager who just beat Magnus in the eight-round of the main tournament was not able to believe that he won against the top ranker of the world. Soon after the game, he went to sleep, and when he woke up, he was the headline of the next day’s news