The Anand effect behind Pragg’s growth is showing, says Barua

Imagine if Pragg wins the World Cup around the time when Chandrayaan lands on the moon, gushes Anand

R. Praggnanandhaa with his mother (Photo: Twitter/ @rpragchess)
R. Praggnanandhaa with his mother (Photo: Twitter/ @rpragchess)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The ‘Anand effect’ has certainly played its part in the growth of R. Praggnanandhaa, feels Dibyendu Barua, one of the first Grandmasters from India. Very few in the chess fraternity of the country will disagree as the 18-year-old sensation from Chennai stands on the cusp of becoming the second Indian after Anand to win the World Cup. 

‘’The credit for the chess revolution that you see in the country today should go largely to him (Anand). At his peak, he had motivated his contemporaries like us and then the next generation of GMs. Now, he spends most of his time mentoring the likes of Pragg at his home city Westbridge Anand Chess Academy,’’ remarked Barua, the second GM India produced after Anand in 1991. 

The first of the two-game World Cup final in Baku between Pragg and Magnus Carlsen ended in a draw after 35 moves and it will be a winner-takes-all scenario in the second game later today. In case of a draw today as well, a tie-breaker will be applied on Thursday for the crown and the top prize of $ 110,000. 

Speaking to National Herald, Barua – who also runs his own academy in Kolkata – said: ‘’Notwithstanding Pragg’s all-round strength as a player, I must acknowledge Anand’s contribution in his growth and temperament on handling big matches. There are a group of players there like N.Gukesh, who is now world No.7, Arjun Erigaisi, Nihal Sarin and Pragg who are benefitting from their association with the great.’’ 

Barua, whose academy has groomed the likes of Koustav Chatterjee, the latest GM from Bengal felt Pragg’s never-say-die temperament has also been helping him in leaps and bounds since last year. ‘’He is an allround player and comes to the table with good preparation. It’s still early days but the way he has been going about his job, you will hear a lot more about him in the years to come,’’ said the 56-year-old. 

Pragg’s sensational run in the ongoing World Cup, where he has already scalped world No.3 and 2 in the quarters and semi-final, respectively, has also motivated the younger GMs’ community. Mitrabha Guha, who became a Grandmaster at 20 in 2021, felt Pragg’s journey is a testimony of the five-time world champion Carlsen’s statement that India is set to be the next superpower in chess. 

'’I played against him a few months back at the Indian Oil chess and it ended in a draw. Pragg is an allround player. While it’s not fair to say if he can become the world champion immediately, he certainly has the time to go for it. These are certainly very exciting times for the sport,’’ said Guha. 

Anand, the five-time world champion, was himself effusive in his praise about Pragg and the assembly line of youngsters who had been making waves in recent years. Speaking to the NDTV, an animated Anand said: ‘’Tomorrow (Wednesday), he could be the first Indian to win a World Cup. And if he does so around the time Chandrayaan lands on the moon, it will be just too much for us (Indians) to rejoice.’’

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Published: 23 Aug 2023, 12:12 PM