A kid with plenty of aces up his sleeve

October 19, 2016

When a regular kid beats two Grandmasters in two separate chess tournaments in a matter of three months, it beggars belief. But if it happens to be a prodigy, the excitement is tempered just that little bit.

R. Praggnanandhaa, at just 11 years, defeated Jan Krejci in the Czech Open in August and Axel Bachmann (in 18 moves) in the Isle of Man championship in October, but his coach R.B. Ramesh says it was no more than a start. After all, he is the youngest-ever International Master in the world.

Given Praggnanandhaa’s exceptional talent and enthusiasm for the game, Ramesh says: “It is not very surprising. More work needs to be done. All it (the twin wins) shows is the potential of the kid.”

Ramesh, who runs Chess Gurukul, an academy for training aspiring players in the city, says Praggnanandhaa is capable of doing even better. “We expect him to do this on a sustainable basis and not be a one-off,” Ramesh told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

Looking at the larger picture, Ramesh says the 2442-rated Praggnanandhaa has to play a lot of 2600-rated players to improve. Only then would he beat higher-rated players as a matter of routine.

Ramesh also spoke of the pressures of expecting too much too early and the dangers of playing to the gallery — things Praggnanandhaa will have to deal with. But the signs, Ramesh says, are good.

The youngster has a “reasonably balanced mind,” Ramesh says, and is not affected too much by results; he is in it for the long haul. It also helps to have financial support — from the Ramco Group in this case.

Praggnanandhaa is currently playing in the cadets’ championships (boys’ u-12 category) in Batumi, Georgia, where he is the top seed. He will then play in the London Classic (Open) in December. The kid, certainly, has a lot of aces up his sleeves.


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