'Wins or Birthdays, I Don't Celebrate Much,' Says Chess Prodigy Praggnanandhaa
16-year-old chess Grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa recently beat world number one Magnus Carlsen.
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is all of 16, and like anyone his age in the country, he's been busy with his final term examinations over the past month.
Only, while he was writing his exams in the day, he was spending his nights logged onto the computer, playing against the biggest chess players from across the world. And beating them! In the recently-concluded Chessable Masters, the Chennai native finished runner-up to world number two Ding Liren, days after beating none other than world number one and five-time World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
'It was an exhausting week. I'm happy I could finish it with good results. I wrote my exams also pretty decent. I’m happy overall about the last week,' 'Pragg' told The Quint.
But a win over the world's best chess players, followed by an appearance in a final, surely there was enough to celebrate after the event, and the completion of the exams?
"I don’t celebrate usually," revealed the 16-year-old, giving an insight into his regime. "Even if I have a good game during the tournament, I just try to keep calm and continue playing the tournament well. It's important to finish the tournament well. After the tournament… ya I have the good feeling of doing well, but that’s it. I just take 1-2 days rest and get back to the routine," he adds.
To not celebrate wins or delve too deep into defeats is a habit that has been inculcated in Pragg from a very young age by his coach RB Ramesh. "That’s one of the things that he told me when I was young. Even at home, we don’t really celebrate birthdays. I’ve never asked also, my parents also didn’t do it. So its normal for me. We usually go to temples on birthdays and that’s it," says the 16-year-old.
Pragg will next be seen in action at the FIDE Chess Olympiad, which is being hosted by India for the very first time. The event in Chennai will stretch from 28 July to 10 August and the best in the world are scheduled to compete in it, including Magnus Carlsen. India's greatest chess player, Viswanathan Anand, is also slated to attend the event.
Anand in fact is also very familiar with Pragg's career as the young man trains at his academy and the chess legend tracks his career very closely, sending inputs during tournaments through his coach.
"My conversations with Anand sir are about my chess and my game. I’m always in constant touch with him, through WhatsApp or Skype. I’m happy he took me in his academy and I’m learning a lot from there. My coach, Ramesh sir and Anand sir are constantly in touch on WhatsApp when I’m playing tournaments. Whatever Anand sir wants to tell me, he tells Ramesh sir so the message is passed to me because Anand sir doesn’t want to disturb me during tournaments," Pragg said.
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