Becoming a grandmaster and a part of the highest category of chess players in the world is no mean feat. It is something that requires years of practice and dedication towards the game.
From over 800 million chess players around the world, only 1500 currently hold that title. India's breakthrough in producing a chess grandmaster came in the form of Viswanathan Anand, who is now a household name.
Back in 1988, Anand accomplished this feat at a mere 18 years of age. Chess is by no means a physically demanding sport, and while Anand became a GM just in the wake of adulthood, there have been others who have been able to accomplish it a lot sooner!
Let's take a look at three such child prodigies, who are the youngest Grandmasters in India.
#3 Gukesh D; Age – 14; Rating (Std) – 2563
Dommraju Gukesh, a young boy who hails from Chennai, became a grandmaster in March 2019, when he was 12 years old! He is the second youngest grandmaster in Chess history, missing out on being the youngest by just 17 days, a record that is still held by Sergey Karjakin from Russia.
Gukesh earlier has won the World Youth Chess Championships in the U-12 category in 2018 and the U-9 Asian School Chess Championship in 2014.
Before becoming a GM, he played a staggering 276 games in 16 months to cement his place as one of the best players in his age group. That is a lot, even for a professional chess player!
Gukesh's focus and hard work make it evident that he has a long career ahead of him, and it will be interesting to follow the 14-year old's path and see where he goes from here.
#2 R Praggnanandhaa; Age – 15; Rating (Std) – 2608
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, another prodigy from Chennai, became the youngest ever International Master in 2010. He followed this by becoming a grandmaster at 12 years, seven months, and is the 4th youngest person to accomplish this feat. Praggnanandhaa's rating peaked in March this year and remains steady at 2608.
He has been busy during the lockdown, too, and was a part of India's winning team in this years' Chess Olympiad. Praggnanandhaa played a crucial role in India defeating table-toppers China and had a good run throughout the tournament.
Other than that, Praggnanandhaa also does well in blitz games and currently has a rating of 2555 in that category. Steadily climbing through the ranks, the 15-year-old has a great career ahead of him.
#1 Nihal Sarin; Age – 16; Rating (Std) – 2620
Nihal Sarin is not only the oldest but also the highest-rated player on this list. The third-youngest player to cross the Elo rating of 2600, Nihal has already made a name for himself in the chess community. He is a former U-10 World Champion, the winner of the World Blitz Championship in the U-10 category.
After drawing a game with Nihal in 2018, Viswanathan Anand famously commented that he would not rule out Nihal becoming a world champion in the future and said that the youngster was talented.
Nihal is most famous for his blitz skills, with a current rating of 2658, which makes him the third-best blitz player in India. He was also a part of the winning chess Olympiad team this year. Nihal is currently trying to make it into the Carlsen Chess Tour and is in the qualifiers' final stage.Published 19 Sep 2020, 19:47 IST