Praggu, as he’s affectionately known, achieved the feat when he defeated GM Moroni Luca Jr in round 8 of the 4th Gredine Open in Italy. When TOI spoke to the Chennai lad, he was remarkably composed. “There is a sense of relief that I have done it. I guess the feeling is yet to fully sink in. I wasn’t aware of the prospect of becoming a GM till someone informed me while I was heading for my round 8 match. I chose not to think of it as it would have robbed me of my concentration. My next target will obviously be to become the world champion,” he said.
I can now play more freely, says GM Praggu
Anand, Praggu’s idol, was quick to congratulate the young gun. “Welcome to the club & congrats Praggnanandhaa!! See u soon in chennai?” he tweeted.
Welcome to the club & congrats Praggnanandhaa!! See u soon in chennai?
— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) 1529808295000
Praggu became the youngest International Master in the world in May 2017 and bagged his maiden GM norm at the World Junior Championships in November last year. If he had two more GM norms before March 10 this year, he would have beaten Sergey Karjakin’s record of becoming the youngest ever GM (at 12 years and 7 months). However RB Ramesh, Praggu’s coach, says his ward never lamented missing the chance. “I don’t think Praggu was chasing the youngest GM tag. Yes, he would analyse his game, think of getting better at it but beyond that, he never dwelled too much on the outcomes,” Ramesh said.
When his parents — Rameshbabu and Nagalakshmi — introduced him to the sport, it became clear from the outset that Praggu had an eye for making the right moves. He started off following elder sister Vaishali — who is on course to achieve her maiden IM norm — but soon zoomed ahead. “He was sharp with his moves and played the game for the love of it. Results didn’t matter much as long as he enjoyed the game,” said Rameshbabu.
Praggu conceded that the constant discussion on gaining the GM title got to him at times, but the class VIII student at Velammal School in Mogappair was able to shrug it off quickly. “I won’t say it affected my performance, but I have thought of it a few times. I can now play a lot more freely,” he revealed.