“Mature as a chess player”, Pragnanandhaa defeated Magnus Carlsen | So Good News


Dressed in a black suit, R. Praggnanandhaa was asked to enter the hall of a five-star hotel in the city for filming. The shy 17-year-old brought a smile to his face as he stepped into the camera. A few minutes earlier, Pragnanandhaa, along with several invited guests, was decorating the hall for a chess playoff at the same time as a montage of him defeating world champion Magnus Carlsen was played.

India’s young grandmaster (GM) is not used to the kind of attention he gets when he wins chess games. But when you beat Carlsen three times in a month, it’s inevitable. “More people knew about me,” the soft-spoken Pragnanandhaa told Julius Baer India on the sidelines of the event. “More broadly, it’s good for the game in India.”

It has been a good few months for the Chennai player. Among his notable results this year were a three-time win over the reigning five-time world champion in online games, a win over world No. 7 Anish Giri of the Netherlands, and being part of India’s bronze-medal winning team at the 2022 Chess Olympiad, where he faced off against China World. #2 Ding Liren in the Chess Masters Final.

Pragnanandhaa called his current phase “maturing as a chess player”. “It’s one of those stages that almost exists in elite chess,” he said.

He had already walked the Carlsen Citadel three times. Can’t say it gets any easier after the first crack. “It’s hard to beat even in a shooter,” he said with a laugh. “He’s too strong, and if everyone talks about it, he won’t let it go easily. It’s hard, but somehow I managed to do it three times.”

Pragnanandhaa wanted to touch the bed for the first time after defeating the Norwegian. It’s his way of celebrating, and after a tough loss, he turns to watching comedy movies as a distraction. “In general, I’m very good at losses. I’m not too upset. I just try not to think too much about the game. Focus on the next game.”

His rise may have been as rapid as expected, but Pragnanandhaa knows there is “a lot of room for improvement”, especially in the classic format and the finer points of the game, such as expanding his repertoire in openings. “My (FIDE) rating is slowly getting there. It’s currently at 2687, but I think it could be higher. I am working towards it. I hope to get more invitations to play more powerful events and progress to the next stage.

Along with coach RB Ramesh, he spends hours “analyzing my games, seeing what’s going wrong, finding patterns and working on it.” However, self-education is a big part of Praggnanandhaa’s development process.

“It is very important to work independently. “You can’t have a lesson every day, and you have to be sharp,” he said. “With Mr. Ramesh, basically working on what’s going wrong and making it better. As in openings, because these top guys are very good at openings and understand them. Therefore, we should be stronger in this regard.”

Pragnanandhaa was also affected by the success of Indians of his age. The Indian team that won the bronze medal at the Chess Olympiad included Pragnanandhaa, D Gukesh, Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani. “It inspires and motivates. It’s important to have players like that together, because if one player plays well, the other will be motivated.”

On cheating

When Carlsen-Hans Niemann took center stage in world chess, Pragnanandhaa thought it might be a good thing, but hoped for a logical conclusion.

“I usually trust everyone. I don’t care if they cheat me in an online game. What happens in the worst case? I will lose. That’s why I never paid attention to it,” he said. “But now there is a lot of talk. I don’t know how it will end. There have been many cases before. It could be a good thing that he (Carlsen) brought up.

“If it ends well, it will be fine. It stops a lot of fish.’


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