Former world champion and chess legend Viswanathan Anand spoke highly of his protégé R Praggnanandhaa in an exclusive interview with UK Time News, just a day after the young chess prodigy defeated current world champion Magnus Carlsen to take second place in the FTX Crypto Cup. This was not the first time the youngster defeated Carlsen in his fledgling career. Last year, 17-year-old Praggnanandhaa defeated Carlsen two more times.
Anand, five-time World Chess Champion, pointed out that Praggnanandhaa defeated Carlsen multiple times in the same day at the FTX Crypto Cup, which makes the feat even more special.
“R Praggnanandhaa has beaten the reigning world champion three times, not in individual matches. In Miami, for example, he beat him in a four-game match, with two extra games. So he’s not doing it once, he’s doing it multiple times on the same day. And that shows how strong he is. Magnus is also one of the strongest players in rapid and blitz – the faster forms of the game. Praggnanandhaa beats him there,” Anand told UK Time News.
“It’s phenomenal. It’s very rare to have someone who starts by beating the world champions because that’s one of the mental blocks you overcome at the end. And here he does it at the beginning.”
The teenage chess prodigy has been trained by Anand, who praised Praggnanandhaa’s cool and calm demeanor under pressure.
“He’s a hard worker. But what I like most about him, what he really brings to the table is his fearlessness and ability to take on anyone. I mean, he can lose a game, he can lose several losing games, but he’s coming He’s shown that in this tournament, not only against Carlsen, but also against (Levon) Aronian, (Alireza) Firouzja, the best players in the world. It’s a pattern that comes up a lot. it’s his fearlessness, his ability to back defeat that helps him now,” Anand said.
“He trains hard. The most important thing for a player before a game is to calm down. To say that ‘whatever is thrown at me, I will handle it.’ If he beat Carlsen, maybe in the future when he faces him, he won’t think, “I’ll never beat him.” He will bring that confidence to the table, so he seems to be doing a great job of not prepping too much, but getting what he needs to do,” added the chess icon.
Dealing with stress
Anand revealed another aspect of Praggnanandhaa that is not known to many. “He’s very funny, likes to joke. He likes to hang out. I think it’s his way of dealing with tension. And this is quite nice. RB Ramesh, his regular coach, knows how to stay put him in the right frame of mind. He is very playful when he is with his sister or family. That helps him relieve the tension,” Anand said.
Praggnanandhaa won the title of the World Youth Chess Championship Under-8 in 2013. Then in 2016 he became the youngest international master at the age of 10 years, 10 months and 19 days. In 2018 he became a chess grandmaster at 12 years, 10 months and 13 days.
“It seems hard to imagine. But the thing in chess is a bit like a language, it lends itself to this intuitive approach. Young people often have that. So right now India has a golden generation. We don’t just have Pragg, we We have Gukesh D and we have Arjun (Erigaisi). All three of them are performing at the top. Pragg is one of many Indian youngsters who became grandmasters under the age of 13,” said Anand.
“I am very happy with the development. A lot of young people are entering the game and that is what drives this revolution. Right now in terms of banking power, India is at its strongest that it has ever been because we have so many people to choose from In fact, during the Chess Olympiad, it was the India ‘B’ team, which was mainly made up of young people, that won the bronze.”
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