"Not the kid's bedtime" - Praggnanandhaa sets up title clash against Ding Liren with exams looming around
"18:00 CET. Isn't that the kid's bedtime in Chennai?," Pragg's semifinal opponent had tweeted.
When it was revealed that the 16-year-old GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa will take on GM Anish Giri in the semifinals of the ongoing Chessable Masters at 18:00 CET or roughly 9:30pm IST, the Dutchman had just one question.
"18:00 CET. Isn't that the kid's bedtime in Chennai?," Giri had tweeted in a friendly banter against the Indian 11th grader.
It sure must have been his bedtime, but the young Pragg, who truly seems to be coming of the age, was not the one to complain.
The Chennai-lad fought tooth and nail in the rapid section to hold Anish Giri to a score of 2-2 after 4 games. Mind you, Giri was yet to lose a single game in this tournament before he met Pragg in the semifinal.
The first game of the rapid section ended in a tame draw, before Giri blundered in the second to hand the youngster a lead and suffer his first loss of the tournament. The third game once again see-sawed before the players' agreed for a draw. With just a draw needed in the fourth game to sail into the final, it was Praggnanandhaa's turn to blunder as the Dutchman drew level to send the match into a blitz tiebreak.
Just when it looked like experienced Anish Giri might just pip the Indian in tiebreaks, he hit back. A massive blunder from Giri in the first blitz game helped Pragg to a 1-0 lead before he defended with tenacity to draw the second and move into the final.
The clock, when Praggnanandhaa registered his win, read 2 am IST - a phase when almost the entire India is asleep.
"I have exams tomorrow. I need to reach school by 8:45 am. It's already 2am. I hope I pass," Praggnanandhaa said in the post match interview, leaving the entire chess world in splits.
With his final against Chinese GM Ding Liren once again slated for late tonight and tomorrow, Praggnanandhaa will have his task cut out in winning his first major tournaments playing against the big boys of chess world.
As for Anish Giri's statement, he seemed to fail to take into account that Indian teenagers ace in balancing sports with other aspects of life. They are built different.
For now, not quite the kid's bedtime.