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:

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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)


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:

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



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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fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 8/21/2017 07:11
Perhaps the decline in mental abilities is BECAUSE of reduced physical fitness? Look at Anand's blunders today; how can they be explained other than physical fitness?

@benedictralph, Jonathan Hawkins became a GM after age 30.
mathematics1 mathematics1 8/18/2017 01:29
good luck !! i really saw the great performance and great games played in WYCC 2015 in Greece
benedictralph benedictralph 8/15/2017 02:16
@KevinC: As does physical strength. Still, I would be interested to know what is the cut-off point for becoming a GM. As in, after a certain age, you may as well not bother trying (not that anyone past 30 does even now).
KevinC KevinC 8/15/2017 01:45
@benedictralph, I do not think there is any question that skill diminishes with age (I am 55, so I know a little about this personally). Even Karpov and Kasparov, while still playing very actively, lost rating points, and started to play noticeably slower as they got into their 40's. For the first time, they would actually get into time trouble.

Again, from personal experience, your mind simply slows down. I used to be able to pull up almost any information I ever knew almost instantly (like when watching the quiz show Jeopardy, and in daily life), but now, while I still have a memory better than most, my mind has noticeably slowed.

A friend of mine, who is an IM, had THE best memory of anyone I ever knew. He would walk through the World Open open section periodically looking at the games, and he could play back virtually all of them. He sat next to me one time about 25 years ago at a tournament, and 20 years later he remembered the game I played! He just turned 45 a couple of months ago, and even he has mentioned to me that he can no longer do such things.
benedictralph benedictralph 8/15/2017 10:57
@KevinC: I agree. That, to me, would be a better indication of whether chess skill is truly affected by age since we keep hearing so much to the contrary (e.g. Anand, Kramnik).
KevinC KevinC 8/15/2017 02:38
@benedictralph, I am not sure who the oldest person to ever become a GM was, but I would only want to consider those, who got there by the traditional method (norms covering 24 games, and a 2500 rating). It is quite possible that the oldest ever got it by winning the World Senior Championship, which automatically gains the title of GM.
KevinC KevinC 8/15/2017 02:35
@fgkdjlkag, Love it, and I agree that he seems like he a very good shot at becoming world champion in the future. The only other two I have ever thought that about when they were still kids both did become world champions: Kasparov and Carlsen.
benedictralph benedictralph 8/15/2017 01:50
Does ChessBase know who the world's oldest GM is/was? That is, to have obtained the title at the oldest age (in history).
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 8/14/2017 06:12
All this talk about the unnecessary pressure on him misses the mark. In interviews, he constantly says he feels no pressure. I expect that he will break the record for the world's youngest GM, but if he doesn't, he is not going to care, and neither are his parents. I think he has a high chance of becoming world champion someday.
benedictralph benedictralph 8/14/2017 03:07
He had better achieve the world's youngest GM status or he will be entirely forgotten very soon. It could very well be the greatest achievement he will ever make in his life. It's a tough world these days.
ransith ransith 8/13/2017 07:55
For the last three years he has showed exceptional performance compared to his age group. See article below published in November 2014
Rational Rational 8/13/2017 06:22
The repeated prodigy articles are just boring. As is the topic of GM norms , once I literally recognised the name of every holder of GM title now it's all about manipulation of the tournament line ups and format.
jonkm jonkm 8/13/2017 06:12
Yes agree too much emphasis on prodigies and on beating records for youngest whatever. The press likes this angle because it "sells copy" as they say. Chess coverage has too much of the odor of sports coverage and star-making.
KevinC KevinC 8/13/2017 06:09
@turok, Computers can help you learn, and prepare openings, but you still have to calculate, and that is what sets this kid apart.
turok turok 8/13/2017 06:02
the prodigy thing is overrated especially nowadays with computers etc. Everybody is a prodigy. let the kids enjoy the game and play without all this stuff.
KevinC KevinC 8/13/2017 03:57
I have said this in these forums before: I have seen A LOT of prodigies in 32 years as a NM, and when I look at this kid's games, I see something VERY special. When I play through a game, very few analyses boggle my mind, but this kid routinely does it. His analytical skills are just out of this world. I would not be surprised at all if he beats Karjakin's record, in fact, I expect it.
VVI VVI 8/13/2017 03:42
There is too much unnecessary pressure on this highly gifted kid to achieve the youngest GM title. He is World Champion material.
Over the past 1 year, he has played several tournaments with good performances but also made mistakes preventing him from earning the GM norms. Vlissingen is no different except his energy levels ran out in the last round; also his quick draws with white in some earlier rounds did not make sense? IMO, his play is not yet consistent against 2600+ players.
At his so young age, he needs a more qualified coach to guide and raise his playing level.