As Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa creates history by becoming only the second Indian after Vishwanathan Anand to reach the semifinals of the FIDE Chess World Cup, his coach R. B. Ramesh is brimming with pride and is confident of the teenager's chances against world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
Praggnanandhaa on Monday stunned world No.3 Fabiano Caruana 3.5-2.5 via the tie-break in the semifinals to enter the finals, thereby becoming the third youngest player after the legendary Bobby Fischer and Carlsen to qualify for the Candidates event.
"I am extremely proud that he has been doing phenomenally well in this World Cup and qualified for the final. And what I hear is he is the youngest to do so. And also he is the only Indian to qualify for the final," coach Ramesh told ANI.
Sharing his happiness, Ramesh listed out the astounding accomplishments of Praggnanandhaa at such a young age. "He has already created many world records in the past. At the age of 10, he became the world’s youngest international chess master, there are only two titles given to chess players and he achieved one at the age of 10. At the age of 12, he became the second youngest to achieve the grandmaster title. At the age of 14, he crossed the 2600 rating which was the youngest to cross the 2600 rating," he said.
The coach said he had briefly discussed his opening strategies with the grandmaster. He added that Praggnanandhaa and Magnus have played each other before and the match will be an exciting one. "He has played Magnus many times. He has defeated the World champion five times in the last one-year and so. It is not new that they are playing against each other. Tomorrow will be an exciting match," he said.
Adding that this is the highest platform where they are meeting each other, the last time they played was in January. "Praggnanandhaa had played a draw against Magnus with the black pieces which was a good result," he further said.
The coach is sure of Indian Grandmaster will win the title. "I am very optimistic about Prags chances. He needs to get a good night’s sleep today. That will be very crucial. He is already feeling really good about himself, he knows that he is playing well, so there is not much to advise him," he added.
As for Praggnanandhaa, the face-off was unexpected. "I didn't expect to play Magnus in this tournament at all because the only way I could play him was in the final, and I didn't expect to be in the final. I will just try to give my best and see how it goes!," he said after booking a spot in the summit clash.
By becoming only the second Indian after Anand to reach the semifinals of the world cup, Praggnanandhaa booked a spot in the Candidates event in 2024 to determine the challenger to Ding Liren.
The top three finishers in the tournament qualify for the Candidates event in 2024 to determine the challenger to current world champion Liren of China.