Reports Jan 10, 2023 | 3:22 PMby Tarjei Svensen

16-year-old Pranesh is India's 79th Grandmaster

In 1988 Vishy Anand became India's first grandmaster, but in recent years the number of Indian grandmasters has exploded. Next in line is 16-year-old Pranesh M, who dominated the traditional Rilton Cup in Stockholm, Sweden. That was enough to become the country's 79th grandmaster.

Pranesh M scored a great performance in Rilton Cup in Stockholm to clinch his GM title | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, Rilton Cup

The 16-year-old from Tamil Nadu already had the required three GM norms going into the tournament, but was 25 rating points short of the required 2500 rating. Scoring a massive 8 points out of 9, his rating performance was an incredible 2775 as he gained a whopping 29 points to clinch the title and the tournament.

Pranesh started slowly as he lost in Round 2, but the teenager then struck back to win the next 7 rounds. One of the wins came against Croatian GM Leon Livaic in Round 6.

41.Rf6+! exf6 42.Qc8+ 1-0

The tournament eventually proved to be a battle between Pranesh and two Norwegians. His opponent in Round 8 was Norway's top prospect, IM Elham Abdrlauf, who turned 18 on the same day.

Pranesh played with no fear, but his risky play eventually backfired as he was gradually outplayed. Abdrlauf achieved a completely won position, until what the Norwegian described as the worst moment of his life.

Abdrlauf has a winning position and could just go 47...Rxd4 and answer 48.Qa3 with Qc5. Instead, with 21 minutes on the clock, a moment of blindness happened: 47...Qh1?? 48.Qa3# 1-0

It was a key win for Pranesh, who now only needed to draw in the final round against another Norwegian, GM Frode Urkedal. Instead, he went on to score his 8th win of the tournament, through excellent endgame technique.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. ♘f3 c6 4. e3 ♘f6 5. ♘bd2 ♘bd7 6. b3 ♘e4 7. ♗d3 f5 8. ♗b2 ♗d6 9. O-O ♕f6 10. ♖c1 g5 11. ♗xe4 dxe4 12. ♘e5 O-O 13. f3 exf3 14. ♘dxf3 g4 15. ♘xd7 ♗xd7 16. ♘e5 ♕h6 17. ♕e1 ♗xe5 18. dxe5 c5 19. ♕g3 ♗c6 20. ♖cd1 ♖ac8 21. ♖d6 ♕g6 22. ♖f4 ♔f7 23. ♗c3 ♖fe8 24. ♕e1 ♕g5 25. ♕f2 ♔g8 26. ♕g3 h6 27. ♖f1 ♔f7 28. ♖fd1 ♔g6 29. ♗e1 ♔f7 30. ♕f2 h5 31. ♕f4 ♔g6 32. ♕f2 ♔f7 33. a3 ♔g6 34. ♕d2 h4 35. b4 cxb4 36. axb4 a6 37. ♖c1 h3 38. g3 f4 39. ♕c2+ ♕f5 40. ♕xf5+ ♔xf5 41. gxf4 ♗d5 42. c5 ♖e7 43. ♖a1 ♖g7 44. ♗g3 ♖gc7 45. ♔f2 ♖c6 46. ♔e2 b6 47. ♖xc6 ♖xc6 48. ♖c1 bxc5 49. bxc5 a5 50. ♔d3 a4 51. ♖c3 ♖a6 52. ♖a3 ♖a8 53. ♗h4 ♗c6 54. ♔d4 ♖a7 55. ♔c4 ♖b7 56. ♔c3 ♖b1 57. ♖a2 ♖g1 58. ♖d2 ♖c1+ 59. ♔b4 ♖b1+ 60. ♔a5 ♖b5+ 61. ♔a6 ♖xc5 62. ♔b6 ♖c3 63. ♖a2 a3 64. ♗e1 ♗d5 65. e4+ ♔xe4 66. ♖e2+ ♖e3  0-1

Pranesh secured a cash prize of around 2000 Euro for winning the Rilton Cup | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, Rilton Cup

He was congratulated by coach RB Ramesh, who tweeted pictures of the youngster's return to India.

Less than two weeks into 2023, India can already boast two new grandmasters. 19-year-old IM Koustav Chatterjee achieved his final norm in the National Senior Chess Championship and became the country's 78th grandmaster. 3 years earlier he'd revealed he became an IM without a coach partly by following Jan Gustafsson's recommendations here on chess24.

The Rilton Cup is one of the most traditional events in Scandinavia and has been organized in the Swedish capital since 1970/71. The pandemic led to a two-year hiatus, but on its return there were 21 grandmasters among the 136 players who took part in the top group. More than 200 players competed in the lower groups.

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