Chess: Praggnanandhaa enters as India’s best bet

Toronto: Teen sensation R Praggnanandhaa will enter as the favourite among the three Indian participants in the Candidates chess tournament that will get underway here from Wednesday to decide the challenger for the next world championship match.

After nearly 35 years as many as three Indians – Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh and Vidit Gujrathi -- have qualified for the most prestigious event of the year that has just eight participants.

According to an expert, India is the new Russia of the chess world, as in the past such dominance was only shown by Russian players.

Praggnanandhaa, 18, starts as the rating favourite among Indians and also as the favourite of the chess buffs even though the top bracket of the world feels that all the three Indian youngsters still need time to settle among the world elite. Fearless and psychologically sound, Praggnandhaa will likely have the assistance of eight-time Russian champion Peter Svidler for the event. One cannot help but recall that during one of the world championships Indian grandmaster P Harikrishna had assisted Svidler in his quest to be the world champion. While Svidler could be a game-changer, it will largely depend on Praggnandhaa’s form and how he adapts in this tough event, where the eight players will play each other twice.

At just 17 years, Gukesh is hailed as one of the finest talents around. The Indian is also the youngest participant in the fray and second youngest ever after Robert James Fischer – aka Bobby Fischer - to qualify for the elite event. Fischer was 16-year-old when he qualified in 1959.

That Fischer’s record lasted a whopping 65 years, goes to prove what it takes to be one of the candidates and if Gukesh wins it, he will be the youngest ever to compete for the World Championship title.

Vidit Gujrathi will have his task cut out and much will depend on his form. In his last outing, probably training his sights for the candidates, the Nasik-based player did not do well at the Prague masters and slipped considerably on the rating list also.

Praggnanandhaa was the first to qualify for the tournament by virtue of his silver medal performance in the last World Cup at Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Indian star went down to Magnus Carlsen in the final but since then has picked up a lot and has come around as a fierce.

Next Story
Share it