Praggnanandhaa, a Grandmaster!

by Sagar Shah
6/23/2018 – In a small town of northern Italy called Ortisei, history is being made. The young uber-prodigy R. Praggnanandhaa is playing the 4th Gredine Open 2018 and he has qualified for his final GM norm making him the second youngest GM in the history of the game. In this article IM Sagar Shah analyzes one of Pragg's fine wins over Aryan Gholami from Iran. His sister Vaishali is also in fantastic form as she is on track to making her maiden IM norm. Also get to see some breathtaking pictures sent to us by Sushir Lohia.

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Second youngest GM ever

The 4th Gredine Open 2018 is currently taking place in Ortisei, Italy. It's a pretty strong event with a rating average of 2198. There are 81 players from 21 countries and 42 of them are titled. The tournament is, therefore, an excellent destination for norm seekers. That's precisely the reason why R. Praggnanandhaa is playing the tournament! He required his final GM norm to become the second youngest GM in the history of the game. And after completing eight rounds he seems to have done it!

Ortisei is a town of 4,637 inhabitants in South Tyrol in northern Italy. It occupies the Val Gardena within the Dolomites, a mountain chain that is part of the Alps.

Playing hall

The playing hall of the tournament (click or tap to enlarge) | Photo: Official website

Praggnanandhaa started off as the sixth seed at the tournament with a rating of 2529. He needs just one more GM-performance to qualify for the title.

Although all the players that he has beaten have been below his rating, I think his win against Aryan Gholami deserves special mention. Aryan is a talented youngster from Iran. He has a rating of 2490. To win a game against such a talented opponent is never an easy task. And Pragg made all the best moves, showing some flawless bit of chess!

 

Praggnanandhaa and Gholami

Aryan Gholami is having a tough time with the Rameshbabu family as in the seventh round he lost to Vaishali as well! | Photos: Official website

In the eighth round, Pragg won another nice game against Italian GM Luca Moroni Jr. He got an advantage right out of the opening and played powerful attacking chess to convert the point, after Moroni went wrong in the middlegame.

 

Black's king is stuck in the centre and he has just given a harmless check on b6 but now must drop his bishop back to f6 and try to defend. Instead, a bid for counterplay merely hastened the end.

16...dxe4?! 17.Nxe4 Rd3 18.Qa3! From here the queen is menacing the black king from afar. 18...Bd4 19.Bg5  and White is winning.

Here's the game in full including the moment when Moroni resigned:

Pragg's chance for a GM norm

Depending what his rating average is Pragg required either 6½/9 or 7.0/9. Here's the relevant extract from the FIDE Handbook:

FIDE handbook

Taking his 8th round opponent into consideration and also pushing the rating of his first-round opponent to 2200, Pragg's average comes to 2428. His win over Moroni means that so long as he meets an opponent whose rating is above 2485 in the ninth round, he achieves his norm with one round to spare!

If he gets an opponent in the last round whose rating is below 2485, then he would have to score a draw in the last round to make it.

Update: He's paired with Dutch GM Roeland Pruijssers (2514), so that should be enough regardless of the outcome of the final round. Pragg will be a GM!

Pragg had already achieved his first GM norm in the World Juniors 2017, and he achieved his second GM norm at a closed round-robin tournament in Greece. He has also crossed 2500 Elo. So, again, all that is required for him to become a GM is this final GM norm! I think he should be able to achieve it, considering the form that he is in right now. [He did!]

Youngest grandmasters in chess history

As Pragg was born on August 10th, 2005, if he achieves his third GM norm on June 24th, 2018, he would become a grandmaster at the age of 12 years, 10 months and 14 days. That would make him the second youngest GM in the history of the game and the only other player after Sergey Karjakin to achieve the GM title before the age of 13 years!

No. Player Country Age Birth year  
1. Sergey Karjakin Ukraine 12 years, 7 months, 0 days 1990
2. Nodirbek Abdusattorov Uzbekistan 13 years, 1 month, 11 days 2004
3. Parimarjan Negi India 13 years, 4 months, 22 days 1993
4. Magnus Carlsen Norway 13 years, 4 months, 27 days 1990
5. Wei Yi China 13 years, 8 months, 23 days 1999
6. Bu Xiangzhi China 13 years, 10 months, 13 days 1985
7. Samuel Sevian United States 13 years, 10 months, 27 days 2000
8. Richárd Rapport Hungary 13 years, 11 months, 6 days 1996
9. Teimour Radjabov Azerbaijan 14 years, 0 months, 14 days 1987
10. Ruslan Ponomariov Ukraine 14 years, 0 months, 17 days 1983

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Standings after eight rounds

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Saric Ivan 6,5 36,5
2 Praggnanandhaa R 6,5 36,5
3 Sonis Francesco 6,0 32,5
4 Santos Latasa Jaime 5,5 38,0
5 Moroni Luca Jr 5,5 33,5
6 Kindermann Stefan 5,5 33,5
7 Hecht Hans-Joachim 5,5 33,0
8 Pruijssers Roeland 5,0 36,0
9 Tarlev Konstantin 5,0 35,5
10 Vocaturo Daniele 5,0 35,0

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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 and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.