CHENNAI: THE second half of 2019 has been a resounding success for Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. The 14-year-old added one more title to his kitty, winning the London Chess Classic FIDE Open in London on Friday. There was a two-way tie for the top spot between the Indian and Anton Smirnov (both 7.5/9) but Praggnanandhaa sealed the crown because of his better tie-break. This victory helped the youngster join the 2600-club. As a matter of fact, it was his third title of the year following his title triumphs in the Xtracon Open and World U-18 Chess Championship.
“It’s an important win because any title is good for confidence and visibility. He is also gaining 15 rating points. Breaching 2600 barrier is good for his growth,” was how Praggnanandhaa’s coach RB Ramesh summed up his ward’s success. Starting as third seed, Praggnanandhaa got off to a blistering start, winning his first four games.
He made a draw in the next round with Smirnov before winning a crucial game against second seed Jules Moussard in the seventh round. The Chennaiite finished the tournament with a few draws against compatriots VR Aravindh Chithambaram and Sahaj Grover, which turned out to be enough to win the tournament.
In all his three tournament victories this season, Praggnanandhaa has remained undefeated, which shows his consistency and evolution as a player. He has had a few ups and downs from the time he became a GM in 2018. However, in the last 12 months, he has gained 70 rating points, which is a sign of the progress he has made.
As he gains more experience competing against quality opposition, Praggnanandhaa will get better and better. Converting advantage into victories is one of his biggest strengths. The impressive part of his recent victories is his willingness to take risks. Going for the initiative by sacrificing pawns and exchange has brought out another facet of his game. Even though he is young, Praggnanandhaa is a quick learner, which is what makes him a special talent. Top seed and India’s national champion Aravindh Chithambaram (7) also performed well, taking the third spot, besides having a gain of 6.5 points from the tournament.
Final standings (Top 10)
1-2: R Praggnanandhaa (Ind), A Smirnov (Aus) 7.5.
3-6: VR Aravindh Chithambaram (Ind), J Moussard, S Maze (both Fra), M Percivaldi (Den) 7.
7-10: S Grover (Ind), M Petrov (Bul), D Gormally, M Hebden (both Eng) 6.5.