Praggu has been performing the balancing act with aplomb by planning his day in such a way that there was sufficient time to not only study for his exams, but also prepare for the battles against the world’s top-rated players.
“The last few days have been incredibly tiring. It’s a first for me, writing exams and playing a tournament simultaneously. I had the computer applications exam on Friday and it went well,” Praggu told TOI.
Praggu’s long-time coach RB Ramesh said it was a tribute to the youngster’s mentality that he managed to handle his matches and the exams at the same time.
“His biggest asset is to be able to stay in the moment. To write an exam just hours after that heartbreaking loss shows his character,” Ramesh mentioned.
16-year-old Praggnanandhaa made it a fantastic fight, but world no. 2 Ding Liren won a dramatic final blitz game to… https://t.co/dahwfpkF74
— chess24.com (@chess24com) 1653637473000
After losing on Day 1 of the final, Praggu showed nerves of steel to win the second leg 2.5-1.5 and take the clash into the tie-breakers. Thursday’s first game started with the Semi-Tarrasch opening and both players were solid in their play to split points after 41 moves.
The second clash came to life with a queen exchange. Praggu was able to capitalize on a good position and win that contest.
“That particular win gave me enough confidence to take the match deep,” said Praggu.
Ding and Praggu drew the next two games as the final headed into the tie-breakers comprising two blitz games and then an Armageddon game if needed.
Praggu had an advantage in the first blitz game but failed to press home the advantage and the match ended in a draw. In the second blitz clash, Praggu committed an error and Ding was quick to capitalize on it to win the clash and with it the title.
“Praggnanandhaa has the potential to be a top player,” says Ding Liren after an absolutely nerve wracking finals at… https://t.co/vMxvXftrWK
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Ding praised Praggu for giving him a hard time.
“It was a very tough game (against Praggu). I am very impressed by him as he played like a very superior Grandmaster. He is so confident about himself and was able to make strong moves even when he had less than 30 seconds on his clock,” Ding said.
When asked if his schoolmates kept a track of his exploits, Praggu said: “A few of them came forward to congratulate me on doing well in the tournament as they knew about the result. But I didn’t want to dwell on it too much and let the loss affect my exam.”