Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa recently set a new milestone in his chess career by attaining the top position among Indian players for the first time. This achievement occurred on January 16 during the Tata Steel Masters tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. His victory over the reigning world champion, Ding Liren, played a pivotal role in this accomplishment. At just 18 years old, Praggnanandhaa surpassed his role model, Viswanathan Anand, in the live classical chess rankings. Climbing two spots, he now holds the 11th position overall with a rating of 2748.3, edging past Viswanathan Anand by a narrow margin of 0.3 points.
Big cheers to @rpraggnachess for this remarkable triumph against World Champion, Ding Liren. At the young age of 18, you haven’t just dominated the game but also risen to become India's top-rated player.
Best wishes for your upcoming challenges. Continue to bring glory to India… pic.twitter.com/W7NAqSYnDX
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 17, 2024
Praggnanandhaa advanced to the fourth round of the esteemed competition following an impressive victory. He becomes the second Indian, following in the footsteps of Viswanathan Anand, to triumph over a reigning world champion in classical chess. Employing the black pieces, R Praggnanandhaa established an early advantage and successfully maintained it throughout the game. This triumph against Ding Liren marked his first win in four rounds, breaking a sequence of three consecutive draws at the beginning of the tournament. His remarkable ability to overcome top-tier players, including world champions, has led to comparisons with Viswanathan Anand, a five-time World Chess Champion and India’s first grandmaster.
Praggnanandhaa’s ascent to the position of the highest-ranked Indian player occurred several months following his impressive performance in the 2023 FIDE World Cup, where he secured the runner-up position. Although he faced a defeat against the renowned Magnus Carlsen in the final, his exceptional achievements in Baku garnered global attention. Notably, Praggnanandhaa became the second Indian player, following in the footsteps of the legendary Viswanathan Anand, to reach the final of the Chess World Cup. This remarkable feat was achieved through landmark victories over Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana.