Elated that Praggnanandhaa has sealed a Candidates berth: Mother Nagalakshmi

Baku (Azerbaijan): Teen chess sensation R Praggnanandhaa’s mother, R Nagalakshmi said on Friday she was elated to see her son seal a berth in the Candidates Tournament, adding the 18-year-old has a “long way to go” in the sport.

The Candidates is the final contest to determine the challenger who will take on the incumbent world champion.

Grandmaster Praggnanandhaa’s dream run in the FIDE World Cup at Baku was ended on Thursday by world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, who beat him 1.5-0.5 in the tie-break after the classical games ended in a stalemate.

Praggnanandhaa became only the second player from the country after Viswanathan Anand — and the youngest — to play in the FIDE World Cup final.

Nagalakshmi, who has played a huge role in her son’s success by ensuring a conducive environment for him to train and also accompanied him to almost all the national and international events, said, “We are extremely happy that he came this far in the tournament. And more than that, we are elated to see him seal his berth for Candidates.”

She also said that Praggnanandhaa would be leaving for Germany from Baku and and will return to India on August 30.

Nagalakshmi’s images recently went viral on social media which coincided with the success of her son in Baku, and the mother said that she was so engrossed watching her son play that she didn’t notice she was also becoming the focus of attention.

“During the quarterfinals of the World Cup (against compatriot Arjun Erigaisi), I was so engrossed in thinking what Praggnanandhaa was up to…that was the only thing which was going on in my mind. Later on, I found those photos had gone viral. I didn’t even know they clicked those pictures,” said Nagalakshmi.

Praggnanandhaa registered a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Erigaisi to set up a semifinal showdown with Italian-American Grandmaster, Fabiano Caruana, ranked third in the world.

“It was proud to see him win that (tough) quarterfinal,” said Nagalakshmi.

The mother added that the family was “overwhelmed” after receiving a call from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin.

“We also got a surprise call from our Chief Minister. It was an overwhelming moment because when he called, it was very late in the night (in India due to the one-and-half-hour time difference), but he still managed to find time to wish Pragg.

“I also spoke to him and it was good to hear even he was following the game from Chennai,” added Nagalaxmi.