In­dia’s Pragg fails to break Kar­jakin’s ‘youngest chess grand­mas­ter’ record

Stabroek News Sunday - - GAMES -

A man of ge­nius makes no mis­takes. His er­rors are vo­li­tional and are the por­tals of dis­cov­ery. – James Joyce, Ulysses

In­dia’s Ramesh­babu Prag­gnanand­haa, 12, be­came the world’s youngest In­ter­na­tional Master in May 2016. He was ten at the time. Ob­vi­ously, the boy was a chess prodigy; a chess ge­nius. Prag­gananand­haa (Pragg) be­came the new pride of In­dia. I ref­er­enced the salu­ta­tion “new” be­cause In­dia had pro­duced a world chess cham­pion in the inim­itable Viswanathan Anand. One bil­lion peo­ple from Pragg’s home­land were proud of his spec­tac­u­lar achieve­ment, es­pe­cially the younger folks. The on­go­ing knowl­edge and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of chess has ev­ery­thing to do with cell phones and the in­ter­net. The younger peo­ple of the world are there­fore more fa­mil­iar with the in­tri­ca­cies of the an­cient game than their par­ents, their grand­moth­ers and grand­fa­thers. Added to that fact, the pop­u­lace of In­dia be­lieves chess orig­i­nated in In­dia. The first record of chess was found in In­dia and was dated 6 AD.

Hardly had the ju­bi­la­tion ceased when Pragg was called upon to un­der­take an­other sur­mount­able chal­lenge. He had two years to be­come the youngest chess grand­mas­ter on the planet. The record is held by Sergey Kar­jakin, 28, of Rus­sia. He achieved it in 2002 at 12 years, 7 months. As ex­pected, Pragg went af­ter the unique grand­mas­ter ti­tle. Each time Pragg played in a grand­mas­ter tour­na­ment, he ven­tured forth with the love and ad­mi­ra­tion of the Indian peo­ple and also much of the world. His task was ar­du­ous; it was a race against time. Pragg had to com­plete all the re­quire­ments of his grand­mas­ter norms within a two-year pe­riod. It had pre­vi­ously been ac­com­plished. Could it be done again to cer­tify Pragg as the youngest chess grand­mas­ter ever?

Sadly, it was not to be. Time and Pragg’s enor­mous com­pe­ti­tion were the de­ter­min­ing fac­tors. To be­come a grand­mas­ter, you have to beat a grand­mas­ter. Pragg de­feated a num­ber of them along the way but it was not enough. He even played the record holder Kar­jakin, and the game ended in a draw.

Life goes on. Pragg will qual­ify as a grand­mas­ter shortly. His next huge chal­lenge is qual­i­fy­ing for a ti­tle shot for the world chess cham­pi­onship. It is just as im­por­tant as be­com­ing the youngest chess grand­mas­ter world­wide.

President of the Guyana Chess Fed­er­a­tion James Bond (back, cen­tre) with the Ju­nior Carifta Chess Team be­fore they de­parted for Suri­name re­cently. The over­seas so­journ fol­lows the host­ing of Na­tional Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship last month.

In­dia’s In­ter­na­tional Master Ramesh­babu Prag­gnanand­haa had un­til March 10, 2018 to com­plete all of his grand­mas­ter norms and reach 2500 Elo points to be­come the youngest chess grand­mas­ter in his­tory. It didn’t hap­pen, and Rus­sia’s Sergey Kar­jakin still holds the record as the youngest grand­mas­ter ever. From 2017 to March 2018, Pragg trav­elled four con­ti­nents seek­ing to erase Kar­jakin’s record. One bil­lion peo­ple from his home­land felt Pragg’s dis­ap­point­ment. (Photo: Len­nart Ootes)

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