There is no rivalry with Magnus Carlsen: R Praggnanandhaa

by IANS |

 July 5 (IANS) Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is now a household name in India and in the international chess circuit. The stock of the 18-year-old, currently in Romania for the Superbet Classical tournament, has been steadily rising. The Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger, where he finished behind Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, was another chapter in his storied career. In Norway, Praggnanandhaa’s first victory in classical chess over World no. 1 Magnus Carlsen made heads turn. Interestingly, during the closing ceremony, Carlsen narrated that his loss to Praggnanandhaa was, in fact, the most memorable match of the tournament for him. Speaking on his relationship with the world champion, Praggnanandhaa said there was no rivalry between them as they bring out the best in each other. "Whenever we play, the matches get interesting because we both enjoy being in that position, so we don’t mind it. In fact, I think that’s the reason our matches get so interesting," he said. The Chennai-born player heaped praise on Carlsen, saying, "Magnus said during the closing ceremony that his game against me was memorable because after that he has become a different player. He won three games in a row in classical, which is very difficult, and very important in this tournament and this format; so overall he played quite well apart from that game." At Norway, Praggnanandhaa won two, lost one and drew seven matches in addition to his three Armageddon wins. He said he was happy with his performance but felt there was scope for improvement. "I performed reasonably well. I won two classical games against Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, which was good. I feel I could have pressed a bit more in the other games. I don’t think I gave my best in all games. Although that is something I have to improve in future tournaments, in general, I feel I performed at a high level." With the Paris Olympics 2024 close, Praggnanandhaa said, “I wish the Indian contingent all the best. We are all rooting for you. I went to the Asian Games (in 2023) for the first time, and the feeling was completely different. If chess reaches the Olympics one day, I would be very happy. We do have the Chess Olympiad coming up this year, so I'm kind of excited for that. This is an exciting period for chess.” Praggnanandhaa, who won the silver medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, expressed gratitude for the support received through the Adani Group’s #GarvHai programme, which was instrumental in his journey and that of other athletes. "Right now, India is doing quite well in chess. Along with its growing popularity, we see more people following the game. Many who lost touch are now reconnecting with it, so that’s good. The interest of corporates like the Adani Group in chess will definitely play a crucial role in its resurgence by promoting players, and I really hope it continues," concluded the master of the 64 squares. --IANS bc/

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