India’s chess hope Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 15, won the first leg (of four) of the new Julius Baer Challengers Tour for young talents at the weekend and with it a wildcard to take on Magnus Carlsen and the elite in the main Tour at the end of the month.

The winner also earned $3000, scored 15.5/19, and finished 1.5 points clear of two fellow Indians, an Uzbek and a Russian who tied for second. Germany’s Vincent Keymer, the main western hope, was half a point further back. 

Praggnanandhaa is already considered the new Vishy Anand and a future world title contender. At 11, he was the youngest ever international master and won what has been dubbed the “Indian Game of the Century”, a reference to Bobby Fischer’s famous 1956 brilliancy.

At 12, the Chennai boy was the fourth youngest in chess history to earn the grandmaster title. At 14, he surpassed the 2600 rating landmark and won the under-18 world championship.

Half the 20 talents were women aged under 25, of whom only the two Chinese players surpassed a 50 per cent total. They will surely improve at the next Tour leg in June. Meantime, numerous chess-playing women are already highly successful commentators or streamers, with Judit Polgar, the all-time No1, acclaimed and popular for her lucid explanations.

Puzzle 2415

Volodar Murzin v Nurgyul Salimova, Julius Baer Tour 2021. What was Black's winning move?

Click here for solution

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