One giant leap from failure to success

By Bhavani Prabhakar Published on Jun 29, 2018 01:16 PM IST

Chennai: Far away from home in Italy on 23 June, a 12-year, 10 months and 13 days old R Praggnanandhaa made Chennai proud by becoming the youngest Grandmaster in chess. He defeated Luca Moroni Jr who himself is a Grandmaster, in the final round.

Pragga is the youngest from India to bag the title and second youngest from the world across -- trailing behind Sergey Karjakin who won the title when he was 12 years and seven months old.

News Today caught up with the prodigy and his family to know more about his life and game.

'He started playing chess for fun and it has led to him winning the Grandmaster title,' recalls his father, Rameshbabu.

Talking about his coaching, Rameshbabu says, 'Due to his interest and passion for the game, we enrolled him into chess coaching when he was barely four-and-a-half years old. I must credit my elder daughter, R Vaishali, who is a champ in the game for this. Practising together kindled interest and that's how his journey in chess began.'

The interest of the champ, a student of class 10 at Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mugappair, was noticed by his father when he was three-and-a-half years old and enrolled a year later.

'Managing the expenses hit me directly and I had to work hard to pay the school and education fees. But when Pragga started winning tournaments, the school was kind enough to recognise his talent and waive the fee,' tells the bank employee, heaving a sigh of relief.

But Pragga did not burden his parents too much once he won silver medal in the under-8 category. Owing to his interest and performance, he began taking part in chess tournaments that were sponsored by the government. The Italy tournament was funded by Ramco Cements.

'The sponsorship relieved my burden more and I had to shell out from my pocket just to manage the expenses for my wife who accompanied Pragga to the tournaments,' adds the father.

CEASELESS ENTHUSIASM

At this young age, Pragga has several laurels, nevertheless he turned out badly in Netherlands tournament that happened just two days before the Italian tournament. He was able to win only two rounds out of seven.

Talking about this, his coach, R B Ramesh, says, 'He was not bogged down by his failure in the previous tournament, but rather took it in the right way and went all the way to become the second youngest Grandmaster in the world.'

'Pragga has to strengthen his opening moves even though he aces the ending part,' adds the coach.

Pragga is a naturally-talented kid which has made him stand head and shoulder above the rest.

'His commitment towards the game, grasping power and composed attitude has brought him this far. There is surely something big waiting for him,' adds the coach who has trained more than 500 students.