CHENNAI: The world’s second youngest Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa is keeping busy these days and it’s not just attending felicitation events or entertaining incessant selfie requests or even an impromptu tete-a-tete with India allrounder R Ashwin. Just five days after winning his GM title, the 12-year-old took up his next challenge – the task of facing five-time champion Viswanathan Anand at the legend’s residence on Thursday afternoon.
Although under simulated conditions, it was intriguing to see the two making their moves on the 64 squares and analysing them. At the end of their two-hour interaction, Anand was impressed with the youngster’s ability to grasp quickly. “I asked him to show me some of his games. Interestingly, one of his games reminded me about a game of mine 8 years ago. I compared my moves with his and we also tried to solve an endgame. He was able to pick everything instantly but again, that shouldn’t come as a surprise because he is a Grandmaster,” Anand told TOI on Thursday.
Interestingly, the two could well face each other for the first time later this year at the Isle Of Man chess tournament to be held from October 20 to 28. While Anand was all praise for Praggu, the youngster was living his dream. “I was looking forward to seeing him. Anand sir has been someone I have always admired for the way he not only won competitions, but also conducted himself. I will really cherish this experience for a long time,” Praggu, who came to meet Anand along with coach RB Ramesh, his parents and elder sister Vaishali, said.
Praggu has already set his sights on the next tournament he features – the Leon Masters in Spain. While Praggu may not have too much time to prepare for the tournament scheduled to take place from July 5 to 9, the interaction with Anand – the only player to win Leon Masters nine times -provided him with a lot of inputs.
Besides the technical advice, the 48-year-old Anand suggested the youngster to make friends on the circuit and experiment with food. “I told him to try and make some friends on the circuit because if you play a lot of tournaments – which he will now – then it always helps to have a few friends. If you have a good day or a bad day, you can go out with friends and unwind,” Anand said. “When you travel, you can’t always have things the way you want. He should experiment a bit and learn to expand his tastes. Again, I stressed on the point that if a bunch of players go out for dinner and if you are fussy, then you lose a chance to interact with them and know them better,” he added.
Praggu felt the session with Anand made him worldly-wise. “He made me very comfortable and whatever his advices were – it was something I could use in my daily life. It was a treat listening to him,” Praggu said.