R Praggnanandhaa, who hails from Chennai, has become world's second youngest and India’s youngest Grand Master. Praggnanandhaa achieved the feat at the age of just 12 years, 10 months and 13 days when he reached the final round of the ongoing Grendine Open in Italy. The Chennai-based player was paired with Grand Master Prujjsers Roland in the final round, which ensured that he would achieve the feat, reports PTI. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Serget Karjakin remains the youngest ever GM, having achieved the feat at the age of 12 years and seven months in 2002.
In 2016, Praggnanandhaa became the youngest International Master at the age of 10 years, 10 months and 19 days. Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, the country's first GM, congratulated Praggnanandhaa on his achievement. "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) June 24, 2018
Meanwhile, Pragga's coach R B Ramesh described it as a fantastic achievement. "Fantastic achievement of course. Feeling proud that one of my students could achieve this. It was a collective effort from parents, who stood by him in tough times, sponsors Ramco group, ONGC and his school," he was quoted as saying PTI.
Ramesh said Praggnanandhaa had the chance to break Karjakin's record last year and did come close to making the GM norms but missed out narrowly in the end.
"Last year, Praggna has come close to making the GM title but now that it has been achieved, we are all very happy. He can only get better from here," said Ramesh, whose movement is hindered by polio.
He also said there would be greater expectations from the youngster now that he has become a GM. "Pressure is something every sportsman should learn to live with, can't complain about that," he added.
Praggnanandhaa's father A Ramesh Babu said he was overjoyed with Pragga's achievement. "I am overjoyed. He has put in a lot of hard work. Credit goes to my wife, who accompanies him to the tournament and is very supportive. Due must be given to coach (Ramesh sir)," he added.