R Praggnanandhaa overtakes Viswanathan Anand to become India's No.1 ranked chess player

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023
R Praggnanandhaa at Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023. Image: Getty

Teenage sensation Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa became India's No.1 ranked chess player on Wednesday, January 17, surpassing five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand.

The accomplishment comes a day after the Chennai-born player stunned defending world champion Ding Liren of China in the fourth round at the 2024 Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands.

The 18-year-old became the second Indian after Anand to defeat a reigning world champion in classical chess.

The victory helped R Praggnanandhaa to thrust his FIDE live ratings to 2748.3 points against Anand's 2748 to claim the top-ranked Indian spot in the world chess. The Indian prodigy displaces his compatriot at the 11th spot in the overall rankings.

29-year-old Vidit Gujarathi is placed at 14th with a live rating of 2742.2. Anand is currently the deputy president of FIDE after he was elected for the post in 2022.

R Praggnanandhaa is third in Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024

Praggnanandhaa played with black pieces against World No.4 Ding Liren, only to wrap the game in 62 moves. The Indian youngster registered his second win against the Chinese star, with the first also being at the Tata Steel Tournament 2023.

Speaking after the game, he said:

"I felt I equalized very easily, and then somehow things started to go wrong for him. Even after I won the pawn, I felt it should be holdable," Pragnanandhaa told the organizers after his victory. The first time winning against a world champion in classical chess feels good."

Praggnanandhaa currently is placed third after four rounds with 2.5 points (one win, three draws). He is behind France's Alireza Firouzja (3 points) and Anish Giri (3.5 points) of the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Vidit Gujarathi is placed at seventh spot (four draws) and D Gukesh at 10th (one win and a draw). All three Indian players have qualified for the 2024 Candidates Tournament scheduled in April in Toronto, Canada.

Praggnanandhaa finished as runners-up at the Chess World Cup last year against Norweigan Magnus Carlsen, who recently confirmed his exclusion from the Candidates.

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