Top juniors in 2022: Praggnanandhaa

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/11/2023 – The new generation of chess stars is here, with no fewer than nine players aged 19 or younger rated above 2650 at the time. In a 7-part series, we will look at the performances of the top juniors in 2022. The second-youngest in the list — only older than Gukesh — is Praggnanandhaa. In 2022, the 17-year-old faced both ambitious rising stars (in open events) and the very best in the world (mostly online). And he excelled in both types of tournaments! | Photo: Alina l’Ami

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Praggnanandhaa RameshbabuA strong showing at the 2021 Julius Baer Challengers Tour, organized by the Play Magnus Group, granted Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu a number of invitations to elite events in 2022. In addition to competing in the Tata Steel Masters early in the year, he played in six out of nine Champions Chess Tour events, getting a chance to try his hand against the very best in the world rather precociously. The wonder boy from Chennai was more than up for the task.

In Wijk aan Zee, Pragg was a clear underdog, as he was only one of two players rated below 2700 — even Nils Grandelius, at 2672, had a 60-point advantage over him rating-wise. This fact did not prevent him from collecting three wins and achieving a 6.8 rating rise, besides the obvious gaining of experience. At the Masters, Pragg defeated Grandelius, Vidit and Andrey Esipenko. Not surprisingly, he was invited to this year’s edition, where he will once again be the rating underdog, despite having gained 72 Elo points in the meantime.

Apart from his outing at the “Wimbledon of Chess”, twice more did Pragg face top-notch opposition in over-the-board, classical tournaments: in April at the Reykjavík Open and in August at the Chess Olympiad. A sudden twist in his final-round encounter against Gukesh allowed him to win the tournament in Iceland, while his 6½/9 performance on board 3 helped ‘India 2’ get a commendable third spot on the podium in Chennai — and a bronze medal for his individual performance! 

As for classical chess, Pragg played in seven more over-the-board events throughout the year, with strong showings at the La Roda Open, where he got third place behind Gukesh and Haik Martirosyan, and at the Asian Continental Championships in New Delhi, where he was the outright winner with a 7/9 performance despite drawing his first-round game against a much lower-rated opponent.

Out of the seven players featured in this series, Pragg was the most active in elite online competitions. The youngster participated in seven out of the nine tournaments put forth by the Play Magnus Group as part of the 2022 Champions Chess Tour. Remarkably, in all of these events Pragg got to face Magnus Carlsen. And not only did the Indian managed to thrice beat the world champion — in February at the Airthings Masters, in May at the Chessable Masters, and in August at the FTX Crypto Cup — but he ended the year third in the overall standings, only behind Carlsen and Duda, who both played one more tournament than him in the series.

Regrettably, Pragg did not win any of the events in the tour, but not for a lack of trying! At the Chessable Masters, he lost to Ding Liren in a very close final match which went to tiebreaks, while at the FTX Crypto Cup, he got second place behind Carlsen, outscoring the likes of Levon Aronian and Anish Giri.

Given the experience gained in 2022, it should not be much of a surprise if we see Pragg winning an elite tournament sooner rather than later. According to R. B. Ramesh, the exceptional coach who played a major role in the development of so many Indian talents, Pragg is looking to rise to the very pinnacle of the sport:

Dhananjay Khadilkar: What do you make of your student Praggnanandhaa’s recent win over world champion Magnus Carlsen in a rapid tournament?

R. B. Ramesh: I don’t want to put too much stress on individual game results. Any player is capable of beating anyone on a given day, but to do it consistently is the key. Magnus is extremely strong in all formats of the game. So, to defeat Magnus, albeit in a rapid format, is creditworthy. But Pragg’s aim is, I believe, to become a world champion in the standard time control format. He has to learn the lessons from these experiences and use them in the standard time control as well.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Full information at

Praggnanandhaa vs. Grandelius - Tata Steel Masters 2022


Annotated by Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu for ChessBase Magazine


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.