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While the world was wrapped up in the thunderous match that went down between Germany and Sweden at the FIFA World Cup last night, a young Indian, just 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, became the youngest from his country to achieve the title of a Grandmaster. It was R Praggnanandhaa, the prodigy who had been threatening to rise beyond brilliance for quite some time now, who beat Moroni Luca Jr in the eighth round at the Gredine Open in Italy and achieved this feat. Incidentally, this now means that the top 4 youngest players to have ever achieved the GM Title now includes two Indians. The first is of course Praggnanandhaa, second on the all time list behind Ukraine's Sergey Karjakin. Fourth on the all time list is Parimarjan Negi at 13 years, 4 months. To understand the magnitude of this achievement, all we must do is remind ourselves that the legendary Magnus Carlsen is fifth on the list having attained the title at 13 years, 4 months. At the Gredine Open, things had become slightly easier after Pragg beat Moroni Luca Jr quite convincingly in the eighth round. After that all that stood between the 12 year old and the Gm title was pure luck. He needed to only play an opponent above of rating of 2482 in the final round to make his third norm.
And then, the following round saw Praggnanandhaa play GM Prujjsers Roeland, rated 2514.The feat did not escape the attention of India's chess legends. Speaking to ESPN, Viswanathan Anand said, “What impresses me about Praggnanandhaa is that he’s not just a strong player but mixes imaginative middle game play with patient endgame skills and is uncompromising in not settling for easy, quick draws.” The road towards becoming a GM is tough. One must earn three norms and an Elo rating of 2500. The first norm for young Praggnanandhaa came at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Tarvisio, Italy. The second one was achieved at Herkalion Fischer Memorial GM Norm, Greece in April 2018.