Wins against Carlsen have given me plenty of confidence: Praggnanandha

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Not for nothing is R Praggnanandhaa’s stock rising in world chess with every passing month. The 16-year old is steadily maturing into an all-round player who can challenge the very best in the business on a given day.

Praggu, as he is affectionately called, pulled off a massive victory over Magnus Carlsen — reigning world champ (classical) and a three-time world rapid champion —  in the fifth round of the Chessable Masters on Friday. In an equal position, Praggnanandhaa capitalised on Carlsen’s blunder on the 40th move. The youngster was placed at joint-fifth spot with Ding Liren (both 12 points) after the eighth round. 

This was his second victory over Carlsen this year in the online rapid format. The former World U-18 champion’s first victory over the Norwegian star came in the Airthings Masters, which created a lot of buzz in India.

Praggu’s success is due to his hard work and self-belief. The youngster works earnestly on his game, is meticulous in his preparation and is not intimidated by big names. 
“It was an incredible show once again by Praggu. He was playing 70 per cent of the match well against Carlsen. Then he dipped a bit and I thought the match will end in a draw. Praggu sensed an opportunity and won the game. He is at a vulnerable age and with every passing tournament, he is improving and learning, which is a very good trait for a player in the ascent,” complimented GM RB Ramesh, Praggu’s coach.

Praggnanandhaa, too, could not conceal his joy in defeating Carlsen but believed that he needs to work hard in the tournament.

“I am naturally delighted to beat Carlsen once again. The first win against the world champion gave me the confidence to do it again. My earnest preparation also helped me in defeating Carlsen,” said an elated Praggu.

“The wins against Carlsen and other top-ranked players in the tour have given me the boost to play with a lot more confidence and assurance. I believe in learning from each and every game and tournament that I play. This thought process has helped me evolve,” added the Velammal student.

Praggu has a habit of watching videos of several games of his opponents and several other players so as to learn how to react in a given situation and importantly, what to expect from a particular player while playing a white or black piece. 

“Praggu’s earnest preparation for the tournament helped him beat Carlsen. He never gives up and always looks for an opportunity to get the better of his opponent. As per my advice, he watches a lot of tapes of various players in various situations and also observes the different styles of play of players. This habit helps him to be on his toes as he will be aware of what to expect from his opponent. Studying games also helps one improve their openings and polish their end games too. To put it out in simple terms, knowledge is wealth,” said Ramesh.

Another facet that has raised Praggu’s game is his ability to handle pressure. 

“Praggu does not worry too much about who is playing against. He is not overly overawed by the person sitting opposite him. He focuses on the pieces on the board, that is where his concentration is. Like they say in cricket, play to merit of the ball and not who is bowling, Praggu too plays as per the moves on the board,” explained Ramesh.

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