A truly historic game!

by Sagar Shah
10/9/2016 – In the last round of the Isle of Man International 2016 world's youngest IM, R. Praggnanandhaa, was up against Axel Bachmann. The Paraguayan GM started with an offbeat opening that soon turned into an opposite side castling. The 11-year-old was on top of his game has he started playing with great energy and imagination, and the value of each move became very high in this sharp battle. That's when Bachmann went wrong and Praggnandhaa was all over the white king, scoring a win with the black pieces in 18 moves against a 2645 opponent!

Isle of Man R09: How to mate a 2645 opponent in one hour!

Report by Sagar Shah

You are eleven years and two months old, and you are playing against an established grandmaster who is rated 2645 – one of the best players from South America.

The world's youngest IM, R. Praggnanandhaa, was up against GM Axel Bachmann in the last round of Isle of Man. A little respect to such a strong opponent is natural, right? Well, in chess, as in life, you get what you give! Axel Bachmann began with an offbeat opening, trying to show that he can outplay Praggnanandhaa in non-theoretical lines.

The Nc3, Qd2, Bf4 setup is similar to the 150 attack and is quite potent if Black does not play up to the mark

Praggnanandhaa was ready for the opposite side castling and immediately attacked with ...c5!

The move c5-c4 is a common idea in the French Defence. It's very strong if White cannot do much. But Bachmann understood the urgency and immediately broke with e4!

Once you say A, you must say B! Praggnanandhaa keeps up his attack with the pawn sacrifice ...b5!

Blunders do not occur in vaccuum. The persistent black pressure forced Bachmann to make an error. White's last move, 14.Na3, was met with 14...c3!, when White is completely lost.

A picturesque final position. The entire black army has ganged up on the white king, and a forced mate is coming up.

[Event "chess.com IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2016.10.09"] [Round "9.21"] [White "Bachmann, Axel"] [Black "Praggnanandhaa, R."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2645"] [BlackElo "2442"] [PlyCount "36"] [EventDate "2016.10.01"] {The last round has begun. 11-year-old Praggnanandhaa is up against a 2645 opponent.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. Nc3 {Axel realizes that playing non theoretical chess can be good way to confuse the little boy. But the lad likes to play non-theoretical chess – he doesn't like to remember reams of theory like children his own age!} d5 4. Qd2 Bg7 5. Bh6 O-O 6. Bxg7 Kxg7 7. O-O-O { Both sides have castled on opposite wings. It can be said that it is easier for White to attack as he already has the hook on g6 and can begin with h4-h5. But let's learn from Praggnanandhaa on the art of how to attack.} c5 $1 { No pretensions! There is no time to waste!} 8. e3 (8. dxc5 Qa5 9. Kb1 Nc6 10. Nxd5 $2 Qxd2 11. Rxd2 Ne4 $19) 8... Nc6 9. f3 c4 $5 {In the French Defence, White does well to take dxc5 before going for 0-0-0. Here too it seemed logical that White should have taken on c5. Once c4 is played b5-b4 becomes a natural threat. Bachmann knows that, but how to stop it?} 10. e4 $1 { Understanding the dangers and quickly doing something about it.} b5 $1 { Fearless as always! You don't need to teach Praggu the art of attack!} 11. exd5 Nb4 12. Nxb5 $6 {This is going a bit too far.} (12. g4 Nfxd5 13. Nge2 {And the position remains complex.}) 12... Nxa2+ $1 13. Kb1 {Is the knight trapped on a2?} Qxd5 {The knight on b5 is attacked.} 14. Na3 (14. Nc3 {was the lesser evil, but Black is just better after} Nxc3+ 15. Qxc3 Ba6 $17 {The rooks soon double on the b-file and a strong attack is coming up.}) (14. Nc7 Qb7 $1 15. Bxc4 (15. Nxa8 c3 16. Qc1 Nxc1 $19) (15. Kxa2 Qxc7 $19) 15... Rb8 16. Nb5 Be6 $1 17. Bxa2 Bxa2+ 18. Kxa2 Qxb5 $19 {with a winning attack.}) 14... c3 { It's surprising that Bachmann missed this move. Otherwise why would he allow it?} 15. bxc3 Rb8+ 16. Ka1 Qa5 {And just like that the 11-year-old has completely decimated the white king!} 17. Kxa2 Nd5 $1 18. Ne2 (18. c4 Nc3+ $19) 18... Be6 {What a resounding victory for Praggu, who simply outclassed his 2645 opponent!} (18... Be6 19. c4 Nb4+ 20. Kb2 Nd3+ 21. Ka2 Bxc4+ 22. Ka1 Qxa3# ) 0-1

Famous chess writer Leonard Barden posted on English Chess Forum: "India's 11-year-old youngest ever IM with the unpronounceable name has this afternoon won an 18-mover against a 2645-rated GM which will go round the world and be compared to Fischer's Game of the Century." The age difference between Praggnanandhaa and Leonard is close to eighty years.

I would say that Fischer's Game of the Century with Donald Byrne was much better in terms of quality. But Fischer was 13 years old when he played that game, while Praggnanandhaa is still just eleven!

See also ChessBase report Praggnanandhaa – youngest chess IM in history!

Full report on the final round in Isle of Man to follow

Danny King Powerplay 2: How to build up an Attack

Not all of us are as talented as Praggnanandhaa. Some of us have to work hard in order to get better at the art of attack. One of the DVDs that I liked very much was Daniel King's Powerplay 2 on How to build an attack. Here is one of my favourite examples from the DVD.

According to Daniel King, in order to successfully launch a mating attack, you need your heavy pieces close to the opponent's king. The faster you can get them across there, the quicker your attack is successful. This happens in one of the variations of the Queen's Indian [E12]: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Qc2 Be7 8.e4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 0-0 10.Bd3 c5 11.0-0 Qc8 12.Qe2 Ba6

Black does the right thing by threatening to exchange the light squared bishops. But White has an interesting move. Can you find it? Well, the move is 13.Rd1! The point is to recapture with the rook when it will be useful on the third rank for an attack. I don't know but this rook lift has stuck in my head since the time I saw it!

What Daniel King does in this DVD is not just show you successful attacks. He also shows you failed attacks and teaches you how burning the bridges doesn't always work. Take for example the game between Toulzac and Sokolov. White tried to play as originally as possible. He wanted to avoid castling so that his rook could be activated via h4. But against a strong grandmaster like Sokolov such ideas do not work:

[Event "Mulhouse IM"] [Site "Mulhouse"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "9"] [White "Toulzac, Pierre Yves"] [Black "Sokolov, Andrei"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2260"] [BlackElo "2565"] [Annotator "Dan"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2000.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "FRA"] [EventCategory "4"] [SourceTitle "EXT 2003"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2002.11.25"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Qc2 Be7 8. e4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 O-O 10. Bd3 c5 11. Qe2 (11. O-O Qc8 12. Qe2 Ba6 13. Rd1 Bxd3 14. Rxd3 Nd7 {is the standard continuation.}) 11... Qc8 12. Kf1 (12. O-O) 12... Ba6 13. c4 cxd4 14. e5 Nd7 15. h4 Nc5 16. Bxh7+ Kxh7 17. Ng5+ Kg8 18. Kg1 (18. Qh5 Bxc4+ 19. Kg1 Bd3) 18... Bb7 19. Qg4 (19. Qh5 Be4) 19... f6 20. Qh5 Be4 21. Nxe4 Nxe4 22. Qg6 Nc3 0-1

Learning the art of Attack from Daniel King is a pure joy!

This DVD is many years old (you can guess that from King's look), but the instruction is timeless. I would heartily recommend Powerplay 2 if you want to become a strong attacker, or just spend hours going over beautiful attacking games. You can buy the DVD in the ChessBase Shop.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Topics Isle of Man

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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fightingchess fightingchess 10/9/2016 07:56
great win for him but his opponents clearly couldn't help himself underestimating his innocent looking opponent or he simply had a day off.
sachinsabnis sachinsabnis 10/9/2016 08:10
This game wasnt that great for its hyped title.
Frederic Frederic 10/9/2016 09:30
11-year-old defeats a 2645 GM is historic, not how he did it or how his opponent played.
Depsipeptide Depsipeptide 10/9/2016 09:39
A year to go to beat Karjakin's record as world's youngest GM, can he do it?
Cajunmaster Cajunmaster 10/9/2016 10:00
Goes to show how modern elo ratings and IGM titles are inflated - this said without wanting to diminish the diminutive youngster's nice performance!
shashank5 shashank5 10/9/2016 11:04
NYTed NYTed 10/9/2016 11:22
I thought he played a pretty nice attack, I could only wish to play at that level when I was his age.
dumkof dumkof 10/10/2016 12:30
After a few opening moves, he found the best moves suggested by SF7. Finding the first choice for at least 12-13 moves in a row, is quite an achievement. Flawless chess, bravo!
kramnikstudent kramnikstudent 10/10/2016 01:00
I am from India and proud to see an Indian do well. I have been reading chessbase news since the past 16 years. However over the past few years I have began to feel that the chessbase articles have become a bit biased towards Indian players. There were many players apart from Anand in the Tal Memorial however all the articles created the impression that Anand was always at the centre of things. Can we have more balanced articles?
XChess1971 XChess1971 10/10/2016 01:33
I agree with kramnikstudent. And it is surprising that an Indian criticizes that. No disrespect. But Mr. Sagar Shah in the Olympiad showed us pictures mostly of the Indian players.Even having lunch at a restaurant. I guess the Ukrainian and American teams didn't deserve that much right? Also in the last "In Memoriam Tal" tournament did we have to see a whole video of the final part of the game Anand-Mamedyarov analyzed by Sagar Shah? How about when the US beat the heck out of India. Doesn't he wanna post a video of the final part of those games as well?
TMMM TMMM 10/10/2016 03:29
Again, so much focus on Indian players, which I really don't care about. Yeah, nice, he beat a GM, big whoop.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/10/2016 03:32
It's a great defeat, I can't discredit the kid. But it's certainly been over-hyped in this article - as once again it's just Sagar with his indian-bias articles again. (please see his Harika defeats Hou Yifan article from just the other day)

Good grief, there is already a chessbase.india page.....Sagar clearly should only be writing for chessbase.india.
Igor Freiberger Igor Freiberger 10/10/2016 06:51
The nice win pictured here is memorable, but Sagar do not point properly how Bachman's play was poor. 7.0-0-0 is a classic misconception and 15.Na3 deserves at least ? as after 15...c3 the game is over. To compare this to Fischer's game is unfair due to the quality of Byrne's play and the depth of Bobby's concepts. But of course Praggnanandhaa should get our congratulations. Hope chess community could learn his name before he reaches the world elite.
victorhoogland victorhoogland 10/10/2016 08:47
Sagar Shah's enthusiasm always makes me smile :)
pmq70 pmq70 10/10/2016 10:34
Truly Stunning! The next Anand and perhaps better.
playerok playerok 10/10/2016 12:06
@Cajunmaster overrated you say?I think it's more tough than past. more player's,more access to materials ,engine helper etc etc.
scacchino scacchino 10/10/2016 03:58
mahh, for me, simply old gm underestimated his young opponent, he played opening like a blitz game, thinking win quickly and so he was punished by sharp tactic play by little indian boy... no more, no less... fischer-byrne was a game of more high level... don't joke! :)
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 10/10/2016 04:38
I think the comments here are unfairly critical of White's play.

First, the computer is at least initially fine with 7. 0-0-0, so although it may be a "classic misconception" it certainly isn't obviously a mistake.

More importantly, let's consider White's thought process on move 14. He probably considers 14. Nc3, but if he agrees that "Black is just better after Nxc3+ 15. Qxc3 Ba6" then can we really fault him for looking for an alternative? He analyzes 14. Na3 and sees that it attacks the c4-pawn, leaves the bN on a2 trapped & threatened (though not immediately, of course) and maybe prepares for 15. c3. It is necessary to analyze 14. ... c3, but how clear is that, really? After 15. bxc3 Rb8+ 16. Ka1 Qa5(!) (other moves are significantly weaker) 17. Kxa2, Black must find 17. ... Nd5! as other moves (like the obvious 17. ... Be6+) seem to yield White a solid advantage! Thus, White could predict the game continuation, miss 17. ... Nd5! (or maybe gamble that Black will), and play 14. Na3, seeing it as preferable to the relatively simple position after 14. Nc3 in which "Black is just better."

Had White played 14. Nc3 and been ground down as described in the above commentary, the commentary might have instead read "Since White is clearly worse after this, he should have tried to mix things up here." Without seeing the refutation 17. ... Nd5!, 14. Na3 might indeed be recommended.
Isledoc Isledoc 10/10/2016 05:44
Enough about prodigies already.As i am getting old myself how about a great game played by some older guy or gal to inspire us to exercise those remaining brain cells!
Halflash Halflash 10/10/2016 07:19
Baby Fischer :)
what a talent
bravo !
fons fons 10/10/2016 11:10
China: 1,376 million people. India: 1,311 million.
The Chinese just don't make a lot of comments on English websites.

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population)
amarpan amarpan 10/11/2016 03:11
I agree with the several comments on too much coverage on Indian players.
Iforidiot Iforidiot 10/12/2016 06:17
Indians work for cheap, and everyone likes to employ them and then bitch about cheap Indians. Sort of like how the colonial crowd learnt about soapnut from Indians and called them dirty pagans.
libyantiger libyantiger 10/12/2016 02:04
the boy is 2400's so he is not just a mere 2000 im ...he will soon turn into a GM
libyantiger libyantiger 10/12/2016 02:05
the boy is 2400's so he is not just a mere 2000 im ...he will soon BE a GM