Exclusive! How 16-year-old Praggnanandhaa of India prepared to beat world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, Sports News

Three losses and one draw in four games on the first day of a tournament would have had a debilitating impact on any chess player. But Praggnanandhaa, 16, is an exception.

He came back stronger on the second day and how! He pulled off this comeback knowing full well that on day two he would face experienced players, who are also in the game’s Top 10 world rankings.

In a way, that pressure of competing against the best in the world was what fueled the young man’s drive to succeed. As the family cherishes their boy’s win over the world No. WION/Zee Media chess player Magnus Carlsen spoke to Praggnanandhaa’s sister Vaishali to find out how it all went down.

His eldest by four years, Vaishali was the first in the family to be introduced to formal chess training. In fact, it was a typical case of Indian parents trying different methods to reduce their children’s TV viewing time.

Then seven years old, Vaishali was enrolled in drawing and chess lessons. It was around this time that a three-year-old Praggnanandhaa began to see the chessboard.

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The pieces were his toys and at the age of four the little one started arranging the board and even playing. Both children started playing tournaments and the youngest broke records at a tender age.

Since then, there has been no turning back – R Praggnanandhaa is the fifth youngest person to achieve the Grandmaster title and the second youngest International Master, while her sister Vaishali is a female International Master and a female grandmaster.

Online chess games were nothing more than fun competitions for a player like Praggnanandhaa. However, the pandemic has changed everything. Real-world tournaments that involved intense travel and hectic schedules have all been reduced to online contests.

Thanks to the new normal, the young lad played a few matches online against Carlsen. While it helped to understand the world No.1 and his game a bit, it was a recent tournament held in the Netherlands that came in very handy.

“Last month was his very first game against Carlsen. Every time he played against Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa was very excited and up for the challenge,” his sister said.

In order to prepare for the current tournament, for which he should be awake and focused during the wee hours (according to Indian time), the otherwise naughty and playful teenager had to alter his routine, at least ten days in advance. This meant acclimatizing to late nights and early morning hours.

“Over the past ten days, he has been preparing his mind for this online tournament. From staying up late to waking up late in the day, he has changed his routine to stay extremely focused,” Vaishali added.

Imagine being up late at night and having to focus on an extremely demanding and strategic game, playing four matches, each lasting an hour and taking on the best in the world, these are the last days for the 11th grader .

Pursuing a course in business with IT, Praggnanandhaa the student is supported by his students and teachers, who go the extra mile to help him catch up on his lessons, back at his school.


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He barely goes to school, and when he does, it’s to attend the special classes the teachers run for him or to pass his exams that help him get to the next level.

While the family is thrilled beyond measure with his latest achievement, Praggnanandhaa barely has time to look back and celebrate, his sister says.

“Over the next few days he has a handful of matches, if he reaches the Top8, then there are qualifying knockouts, followed by the final on the 26th. On February 27, the youngster leaves for a tournament in Italy .

Since 2014, Praggnanadhaa has been trained by Ramesh, a renowned grandmaster from Chennai. From early 2021, he is also specially mentored by chess legend Viswanathan Anand.

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