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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Praggy wins Indian hearts - ends up runner-up in Chess World Cup 2023

A great day for the Nation – though it was a loss.  Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa's dream run in the FIDE World Cup ended at the hands of world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, who beat him 1.5-0.5 in the tie-breaks on Thursday after the classical games ended in a stalemate.  Ever heard of or remember Manuel Aaron ?


The 18 year old Hero is the runner-up of FIDE World Cup 2023 – he had a grand run  defeating  world number 2 Hikaru Nakamura and world number 3 Fabiano Caruana  In the extended finals he lost to the world number 1 Magnus Carlsen in final match in a tie-breaker &  has won silver for India 

Former World Champion Magnus Carlsen has accomplished a significant milestone in his illustrious chess career by capturing his inaugural World Cup title, the only tournament that was missing from his immense collection of victories.  All three top-placed players have qualified for the 2024 Candidates tournament which is due to take place next April in Canada. If Carlsen officially declines to take part - he has hinted in the interviews that he might not be interested in playing in the event - then Nijat Abasov, who finished fourth, will replace him. 

After a quiet draw in the second game of the finals, Carlsen   defeated the 18-year-old Indian prodigy R Praggnanandhaa in the tiebreaks. It took  two tiebreak games and about one and a half hours.  The Chess World Cup 2023 was a 206-player single-elimination chess tournament that took place in Baku, Azerbaijan from 30 July to 24 August 2023. It was the 10th edition of the Chess World Cup.   The tournament was held in parallel with the Women's Chess World Cup 2023. Jan-Krzysztof Duda was the defending champion, but lost in the fifth round to Fabiano Caruana. 

To ordinary people like us, Chess is a game which wise people play – the 64 squares and rules are not too hard to comprehend but to play and win is too difficult..   In the game of intelligence played on the square board divided into 64 alternating dark and light squares with 16 pieces each – it is the  The World Chess Federation, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) that  awards several performance-based titles to chess players, highest being the Grandmaster title. Titles generally require a combination of Elo rating and norms.  Once awarded, FIDE titles are held for life, though a title may be revoked in exceptional circumstances.  

The first Chess player to receive National honours was -  Anupama Gokhale (born Anupama Abhyankar. She won the Indian Women's Championship five times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1997) and the Asian Women's Championship twice (1985 and 1987).  Gokhale was the recipient of the Padma Shri Award in 1986  and the Arjuna Award in 1990. She is the youngest Padma Shri awardee, being only 16 years old when she received it. She is married to Dronacharya Award winner Raghunandan Gokhale, a chess player himself.   

Amongst Indian chess players there are 82 Grandmasters (GM); 124 International Masters (IM); 23 Woman Grandmasters (WGM), including some who also hold the higher IM title; and 42 Woman International Masters (WIM) as of May 2023, according to FIDE, the International Chess Federation.   

In earlier years, Padma awards were conferred to cine actors – and a few Doctors, and very few other Sports persons.  Viswanathan Anand has been conferred  Padma Vibhushan  & earlier Padma Bhushan.  Padma Shri awardees from Chess  are :  Anupama Gokhale; Bhagyashree Thipsay, Vishy Anand, Koneru Hampy, Harika Dronavalli.    

Praggnanandhaa’s journey began when he was just over two years, watching his sister R Vaishali, herself a world girls’ under-14 champion, train. “He owes a lot to the two women in his life,” says his father A Ramesh Babu, a bank employee. Praggnanandhaa’s mother, Nagalakshmi, is the one who accompanies the little champ to every tournament as his father is afflicted by polio.   

In our younger days, we read about Manuel Aaron (1935 born) -  the first Indian chess master in the second half of the 20th century. He dominated chess in India in the 1960s to the 1980s, was the national champion of India nine times between 1959 and 1981.  

Great achievement Praggy – Nation is proud of you – sure, you would become the World no. 1 sooner.  Best wishes to you and appreciate your performance

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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