Chennai: Chess siblings from Chennai — woman Grandmaster (WGM) R. Vaishali and GM R. Praggnanandha — are seriously preparing for the first ever FIDE Online Chess Olympiad starting Saturday.
But for the two chess masters, such preparations are part of their daily routine though their mother feels proud that her two children are set to enter the history books as the first Indian siblings to play in the first ever online chess Olympiad.
“Our house is always silent as we do not switch on the television. Vaishali (19) and Praggnanandha (14) practice separately. It is true they are in the Indian team for the online chess Olympiad, but it is business as usual at home,” their mother N. Nagalakshmi told IANS.
She said that it was her dream that her children play for India in the Olympiad, which has now come true.
“There are no special preparations for the online Olympiad. We are practicing as usual. The players in the other top teams are world class players. The only difference here is that the moves are to be played fast and they would be online,” Praggnanandha told IANS.
He said that the daily practice is for about six hours. Both the players are coached by GM R.B. Ramesh.
“We don’t practice for individual tournaments, but train continuously based on the requirements,” Ramesh told IANS.
Praggnanandha said that though the Olympiad begins on Saturday, the teams in the top division would actually play only around August 19-20. The qualifying matches between various divisions starts on Saturday.
Though Vaishali and Praggnanandha practice separately, they jointly discuss the games and positions.
“They also play against each other,” Nagalakshmi said.
She said that during tournaments, she takes extra care of her children’s diet.
“During tournaments, only safe and digestible food is given to them to prevent stomach upsets which in turn would impact their game. No outside food is allowed. We don’t make non-vegetarian items during tournament days except eggs,” Nagalakshmi said.
“Though they are young, they also behave very responsibly and take only healthy snacks,” she added.
Chennai, the cradle of Indian chess, apart from producing the country’s first International Master (IM Manuel Aaron), Asian Junior Champion (IM V. Ravikumar), Grandmaster and World Champion (GM Viswanathan Anand) is now the land that produced the first siblings (sister-brother) who are part of the Indian team for online chess Olympiad.
Though Vaishali (ranked eighth in the world in the girls’ segment) and Praggnanandha are reserves in their respective categories, they are hoping to get a chance to play.
The Indian women contingent consists of top players in the world like World No. 2 Koneru Humpy and World No. 9 Dronavalli Harika.
The Indian team for Chess Olympiad:
Men: Viswanathan Anand, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (Captain), Pentala Harikrishna (Reserve), Arvindh Chithambaram (Reserve)
Women: Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, Bhakti Kulkarni (Reserve), R. Vaishali (Reserve)
Junior Boys: Nihal Sareen, R. Praggnanandha (Reserve)
Junior Girls: Divya Deshmukh, Vantika Agrawal (Reserve)