(June 8, 2023) Prraneeth Vuppala’s parents introduced him to a variety of sporting activities when he was just six. Tennis interested him and so did football. Like most children, he loved swimming too. But it was chess that fascinated him the most. He only took about a week to learn the basics and how to make the right moves. The young Indian chess prodigy and his early passion for the game led him to a chess academy where he sharpened his skills in no time. Thereafter, he went about checkmating his opponents across the globe, winning national and international tournaments one after the other.
All of 16, he recently became the India’s 82nd Grandmaster after he achieved the required 2,500 FIDE rating points. “Despite all the wins, I don’t think one can still master the game of chess,” smiles Prraneeth in an exclusive chat with Global Indian. The Indian chess prodigy defeated Grandmaster Hans Niemann of USA in the penultimate round of the Baku Open 2023 held from May 4 to 22 in Baku, Azerbaijan. “I don’t get distracted by anything during a game and remain focused on it completely. Without bothering about winning or losing, I just go out there and play. The grandmaster title is part of the process and I feel great about it,” says the teenager, who has become a role model for many budding chess players not only in his home state of Telangana but across the world.
The Baku Open
In the Baku Open, Grandmaster Niemann’s attack on the kingside did not work out the way he wanted and Prraneeth scored a win. “Prior to the game, I do prepare against the opponent, try to analyse their moves and check their opening lines. But when the tournament actually starts, I don’t think about the opponent at all. I just play,” says the young grandmaster. He is the sixth from the state of Telangana to have achieved the title.
Prraneeth was among the 119 players, including 32 Grandmasters, 29 International Masters, 11 World Grandmasters and Women International Masters) from 14 countries who took part in the Baku Open. The nine-day, nine-round Swiss League tournament was organized by the Azerbaijan Chess Federation and the Ministry of Youth & Sport of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Upon his return to Hyderabad after winning the grandmaster title, Prraneeth was accorded a grand welcome by the Telangana state government.
He was felicitated by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and announced a reward of Rs 2.50 crore. “Meeting the Chief Minister along with my parents was a matter of great pride. He congratulated me and wished me well for my future tournaments and assured all support,” says Praneeth, whose intelligent moves on the chess board in a short span of time surprised many.
Earning his grandmaster norms
Prraneeth has achieved three Grandmaster norms during the course of his chess career. In March 2022, he earned the first one and achieved the International Master title in Hungary. In July the same year, he achieved his second norm at Biel Master Tournament in Switzerland. He achieved third GM norm at the second Chessable Subway Formentra Open in Spain, Sunway Sitges and Lorca tournaments in Italy.
“The tournament in Hungary was tough. I lost the first round but that did not bother me. I kept my focus on the game, analysed where I was going wrong and improved it. I won other rounds to win my first grandmaster norm,” recalls the chess prodigy, who also participated in world chess tournaments held in Armenia and Budapest earlier besides Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. He also achieved his second International Masters norm in the Vergani cup in Serbia.
The prodigy’s journey
Hailing from Allagapada village in Miryalaguda Mandal of Nalgonda district of Telangana, Prraneeth’s father V Srinivasa Chary works as Assistant Commissioner in GST while his mother Dhanalaxmi is a junior lecturer at a Government college. “They encouraged me all through which made me what I am today,” says Prraneeth, a Standard XI student of Viswa Chaitanya Junior College, Tarnaka in Hyderabad.
Prraneeth held the titles of national champion (under- 7 to under-14) before he earned the international masters and grandmaster titles. Till 2021, he trained with noted chess coach Rama Raju at the RACE academy. Now, he trains with Israel Grandmaster Viktor Mikhalevski.
Earlier, the 16 year old used to do yoga and meditation. “Now I mostly rely on normal workouts in between the tournaments which helps me remain focussed on the game and agile to all the moves by opponents,” informs Prraneeth, an admirer of Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen.
The chess Grandmaster says his next target is to reach 2,600 rating points and is already working towards it. “My ultimate goal is to become the world champion by achieving 2,800 rating points,” says the youngster who is all focused on his next tournament — the Asian Continental tournament in Kazakhstan which starts this month.
While he regularly practices in chess to fine tune his skills, Prraneeth likes to read books about chess and chess players. “It not only motivates me, it is also interesting to read and analyse their moves which helps me in my game as well,” explains the prodigy who puts in 8 to 10 hours of practice everyday. He even plays chess online with multiple players.
In between his academics, which he also excels at, Praneeth makes it a point to indulge in football and tennis with his friends. “There are many more tournaments to come and I constantly prepare myself for them,” he says.