“ 9.30 PM. Isn’t that kid’s bedtime in Chennai?” tweeted Anish Giri of Netherland,
currently ranked World number 10 in chess rankings yesterday evening. This cheeky query was aimed at his semi-final opponent in the MCCT Chessable Maasters online Rapid tournament, 16-year-old Rameshbabu Praggananandhaa and the time reference was to the scheduled time of their encounter.
Praggu was more than awake, in fact he was at his devastating best and knocked out Giri 3.5-2.5 in one of the most shocking results of the tournament to advance to the Finals early Wednesday morning . The first four rapid games resulted in a 2-2 tie with Praggu winning the second game and Giri equalising with a victory in the fourth games. The two tie-break games were played in Blitz format where Praggu won the first game and settled for a draw in the second in an advantageous position to advance to the finals.
In another sensational result, Ding Liren, rated 2nd in World rankings defeated reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen 2.5-1.5. Praggu and Liran will fight it out in a 8 game final to be played on Wednesday and Thursday night.
After a draw in the first game, the second game was sort of a ‘Master Class’ by Praggu in the art of attacking. One of the most beautiful games seen recently, the game was rich in tactics where Praggu playing Whites was in an element of his own, discarding the most obvious and natural looking moves in the Grunfeld. The pieces appeared to move magically in harmony to Praggu’s own tune and pace. Giri subjected to a ferocious attack failed to defend accurately leading to a spectacular checkmating net. Giri sporty as ever, endeared himself to the following spectators with an admiring and appreciative expression, acknowledging Praggus effort.
“ Our Opening strategy worked well. Pragg is playing with increased confidence in his abilities. Today morning he has to give his exams at 9.00am and then prepare for the finals in the afternoon” said an elated R B Ramesh, his coach.
“ I am so very impressed with Praggu’s game quality and super proud of him” gushed his elder sister R Vaishal. The brother-sister duo will represent Indian teams in the forthcoming Chess Olympiad slated at Chennai from 28th July.