The next big talent of Karnataka - IM Pranav Anand
Karnataka's list of titled players keep growing as 14-year-old Pranav Anand becomes the latest International Master of the country. The boy showed early signs of his wisdom as he chose chess between the sport of 64 squares and the board game majorly based on luck than skill - ludo. He was already sitting comfortably with three IM-norms in his bag after Aeroflot Open 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the inevitable. He braved the odds and became the first Indian player to have become an IM in this year on 12th February. Photo: Rupali Mullick
Pranav Anand is the first IM from India in 2021
14-year-old Pranav Anand already had three IM-norms when he travelled to Belgrade, Serbia to play during this Covid-19 pandemic. On 12th February 2021, Pranav beat GM Stefan Djuric in the third round of Radnickichess GM Round-Robin to cross 2400 in the live rating list and become India's latest IM. He fulfilled the title requirements in the first event he played in this year.
Shahid Ahmed (SA): Congratulations for becoming India's latest IM. How does it feel to become an International Master?
Pranav Anand (PA): Thanks it feels great to finish the title requirements at last and I look forward to continuing to improve my chess.
SA: What does this title mean to you?
PA: It is the first major stepping stone of many more wonderful things to come.
SA: How did you start playing chess?
PA: My father showed me a Ludo board and a chess board and asked me which I wanted to play. I picked the chess board because it looked like fun. He played with me and from then on, I have really enjoyed playing. My grandfather is a good chess player and I have learnt from him also.
SA: Who were your chess coaches in your chess journey?
PA: Late L Seshadri sir from Mysore taught me the first moves. Jayaram Ramanna Sir from Chess Shoots and Vishal Sareen Sir have coached me. Currently Saravanan sir is training me. I have had the good fortune to work with Konstantin Landa, Boris Avrukh, IM Raja Ravi Sekhar Sir.
SA: Which norm was the most difficult one to make?
PA: The norm which I made in Aeroflot was the most difficult one since I had to make 1.5/2 and so had to win a game with the black pieces which I managed to do.
Pranav crossed 2400 rating barrier on 13th February when he defeated GM Stefan Djuric in Radnickichess 2021 GM Round Robin in Belgrade, Serbia.
SA: Who is your inspiration in chess?
PA: My favorite players are Vishy Anand, Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen. I learned a lot studying their games.
SA: Which grade do you study in school currently?
PA: I am in eighth grade at Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore.
SA: How much support do you get from your school and parents?
PA: My school, parents, my grandma and my younger brother are great sources of support.
SA: What is your parents reaction to you earning the coveted IM title?
PA: They have always been happy with every success that I have been having, whether its State level championships or IM-norm achievements.
SA: What are the chess materials you used for your training?
PA: I mainly read a lot of books on a variety of topics and I also like solving a lot of positions like studies or tactics. One book I really liked was the Analytical Manual by Dvoretsky because of its difficulty level and also the general games which were included in it.
SA: How did you cope with the covid-19 pandemic?
PA: It was very difficult initially but then I started a routine where I would work on multiple aspects of the game with my coach. I also had practice play with IMs, practice tournaments with a group of friends, online tournaments conducted by Chessbase were also very helpful and kept the work going.
SA: How does it feel to be back to playing otb chess tournaments again?
PA: It's such a sense of relief except for the masks, gloves and the general paranoia around the Covid-19 infections. But the Serbia tournaments were conducted very well and it was fun.
SA: Now that you have become an IM, what's next for you?
PA: I am working towards the GM title. I always think this more as a journey with many milestones. The long term aim is to become the world champion but first I aim to achieve the GM title soon.
We reached out to some of Pranav's coaches and this is what they had to say:
I have worked with Pranav Anand since 2013 December when he was 6 plus years old. After his Initial basics with Late Mr Seshadri L, Pranav started travelling for classes under me. He is a very sharp kid and I had never seen a kid with so much hard work and perseverance before.
By the age of 11 he had completed study of Best games of former world champions and had worked on almost all the good, recommended books. His game analysis as a 10-year-old boy would come to three to four A4 size printouts elaborating all his thought process, preparations etc. He always believed that he was made for something bigger and he eats, sleeps and breathes chess consistently hitting 40 hours plus of weekly workload for the last seven years I have been engaged with him.
After consistently winning all his age category State Championships from 2015 to 2017, he even stopped participating in them as he believed that the real competition was not the State but World level events. He went on to be rated 2230 in Sep 2016 FIDE rating list and top the World rankings in Under-10 category well ahead of his peers born in 2006. He had achieved all these feats without compromising on his school, only during tournaments he used to take leave from school.
The year 2019 was a good year as he started to make IM-norms in the best of open tournaments across the world, namely Biel and Aeroflot after missing many IM-norms by whiskers in other tournaments on several occasions. He would have made his title much earlier if not for the pandemic. He just had to play some tournaments to fulfil his rating formalities for the IM-title. There were couple of trainers and practice partners involved in fixing a specific weakness of Pranav on and off but the last one year I feel has transformed Pranav to surge ahead under the Guidance of IM Saravanan V. The elusive GM title is not far off and I am sure he is made for things higher than that.
Pranav and I worked for over three years almost, for past one year we have not been able to catch up as most of the work I was doing with him was at his home off-line. The one striking thing about this young boy is the 'eye for detail' which we often do not find in youngsters.
He is always chasing the truth behind every position and this is one factor that makes me believe that he has the acumen to reach a real high level. Like every one else, his progress was delayed due to pandemic but this IM title is a welcome relief. GM title is not far away and after that the true journey will start! I hope and believe to see him amongst the best. Not because I am biased, but I know this boy can work for 12 hours a day and still be fresh to learn more!
Pranav is a talented kid, with results being well deserved. In fact, he is one of those countless youngsters who are facing hindrance in their chess development due to the onset of the pandemic. Otherwise, he could have made even rapider strides in his chess development and performances.
The most remarkable feature of Pranav's personality is his passion towards the game. He is almost maniacal in his pursuit of chess study and play. I have seen such obsessive enthusiasm towards the game only with a few kids in the past three decades, and they all went to the very top of Indian chess.
Pranav's play is fundamentally strategic, with a style of active positional play. He has improved a lot in the past one year with his tactical abilities. His fundamentals are in good shape, as he studied a lot of endgames in his initial phase of chess development. He has a decent knowledge of chess classics already.
Pranav's fundamentals were shaped by Jayaram Ramanna of Bangalore – the coach who made him study endings early! - who continues to work with Pranav even now, whom I find to be a dedicated coach for young children. Pranav was further trained by one of the best coaches of the country, IM Vishal Sareen who enabled him to make a giant leap in his game, especially laying fundamentals of opening study. Many coaches and trainers have contributed to his growth at different points of time, the latest of which is GM Surya Ganguly, who gave him a couple of valuable sessions just before his IM title achievement tour.
I started working regularly with him since late 2019, and thanks to the pandemic, we have worked a lot in the last one year period. I find him quite an enjoyable kid to work with, with a sense of fun, good discipline, a thirst for knowledge and impeccable manners thanks to his grounded upbringing. That's the result of his lovely family, who are his source of strength – his parents and his grandmother, who accompany him on his tournaments. I am sure that with good opportunities, sponsorship and breaks, he is on his way forward.
Pranav Anand has indeed been my student but his recent result has come through his own hard work and the perseverance of his parents particularly his father - I remember that he was quite talented despite being very young and recall one of his expressions, "That knight will wreak havoc" and indeed it did.