Indian 12-year-old prodigy crosses 2500

by Sagar Shah
8/13/2017 – On 10th of August, R. Praggnanandhaa turned 12 years old, and crossed 2500 FIDE Elo. He has an opportunity to go after Sergey Karjakin's record as the youngest grandmaster ever. In Vlissingen, in the Zeeland province of southwest Netherlands last week, he dominated a simultaneous exhibition, scoring 20-0, then played the annual HZ Tournament there, narrowly missing a GM-norm. | Photo: hztoernooi.nl

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Youngest to 2500

Sergey Karjakin achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 12 years and seven months. Praggnanandhaa has seven months left to score three GM performances and beat that record. He made tangible progress in that direction by scoring 6.0/7 at the Hogeschool Zeeland (HZ) tournament in Vlissingen, Netherlands, which ended yesterday. Despite picking up only an additional half point from his last two rounds, that performance gained him enough FIDE Elo points to cross the 2500 mark in the live ratings.

Vlissingen is a small city of about 45,000 residents located in the Zeeland province of the Netherlands

20-0 simul sweep

In advance of the HZ tournament, "Pragg" as he's referred to for short, took on 20 opponents at a clock simul in the city. Clock simuls are never easy. First of all you have to keep moving quickly on each of the boards, and secondly you have to ensure that you keep up your quality of moves. As with many prodigies before him, this proved to be no obstacle for the young Indian as he mopped up his opponents with a 20.0/20 score!

The secret of Pragg's success is his amazing tactical vision. This was shown in ample measure on a ChessBase India, in early June. Check it out:

Replay the show to see the kid in action (requires a ChessBase Premium account)

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Praggnanandhaa simul

At the simul (click or tap to expand) | Ploegarts

Video report (in Dutch and English)

Video: omroepzeeland.nl

Three GM-norms in seven months?

Praggnanandhaa has already been in the headlines as the youngest International Master in history. Now with the rating qualification met, he needs only to attain three grandmaster norms (performances over 2600, in certain qualifying tournaments), to gain the title. At the HZ Tournament in Vlissingen he was well on his way to a first norm with 6½ out of his first eight games. But he needed at least a draw with black in his last round game with Venezuela's Eduardo Iturrizaga.

van Foreest and Iturrizaga

Iturrizaga (right) tied for first with fellow GMs Jorden van Foreest and Benjamin Bok | Photo: HZToernooi.nl

White maintained an edge out of the opening, and Pragg's last best chance came in this position:

 

Here Black played the overly passive 24...Kg8 giving Iturrizaga a very favorable ending after 25.Rb5 Rd1+ 26.Kg2 Qd3 27.Qe8+ Kh7 28.Qe4+ forcing a queen trade.

Instead, more testing would have been 24...g5 25.Rb8+ (or 25.Rb5 Rd1+ 26.Kg2 Qd3 27.Rb8+ Kg7 28.Qb5) Kg7 26.Qe8 Rd1+ 27.Kg2 Qd3 28.Qh8+ Kg6 29.Rg8+ Kf5 30.Qh7+ Ke6 31.Qxd3 Rxd3, when Black picks up the c3 pawn and has some counterchances in the resulting rook endgame.

Praggnananda won't have long to wait before his next opportunity for a GM-norm. He is scheduled to play in the Barcelona Open, beginning August 18th.

All Praggnanandhaa's games from the HZ Tournament

 

Final standings

 

Links



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. 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 and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.

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