MANILA, Philippines – A 12-year-old Indian trounced Wesley So in the first of their 4-game clash at the 2018 Leon Masters on Saturday, July 7, in Leon, Spain.
But R Praggnanandhaa is not an ordinary 12-year-old. He just completed his 3rd norm to become a grandmaster, the second youngest ever.
In literally the blink of a eye, Praggnanandhaa defeated So, who ascended recently to world number two in rapid chess. The boy, who comes up close to So's shoulder, overcame an inferior position and then outfoxed his illustrious foe with a neat move.
But after dropping the opening clash, So squeezed out a win in the second game and drew the 3rd. This set up the 4th and clinching game where So won, 2.5-1.5.
So – the Filipino chess prodigy now representing the US – will wait for the winner of the other match between Francisco Vallejo Pons and his Spanish compatriot Jaime Santos Latasa. The finals is set on Sunday,
"My opponent's a genius", Wesley So commented of 12-year-old Praggnanandhaa, after scraping victory in their match! Full #LeonMasters Day 1 report: https://t.co/odMQqzCLzX #c24live pic.twitter.com/6klOCSku5a — chess24.com (@chess24com) July 7, 2018
Pragg, as he is called, captured So's pawn with a bishop in the first match. As So maneuvered his rook on the g file to stop Pragg's pawn from promoting, the young boy blocked the pawn with his bishop, stopping So's plans. After Pragg promoted to a queen, So resigned.
"Lol! Wesley So just lost to a 12-year-old boy in rapid chess where he's supposed to be No.2 in the world. Bawi na lang next game Wes!," posted Cliburn Anthony Orbe, treasurer of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines Facebook page.
(Just make up for it in the next game Wes!)
"He just overlooked simple moves trying to exploit his opponent's time trouble. Sya ang na trap sa time trouble ng opponent niya," added Orbe.
(He was the one who got trapped in his opponent's time trouble.)
In game two, So dodged a bullet as a viewer told Sagar Shah, the commentator at Chessbase India, that Pragg missed a bishop sacrifice that could have won a rook after a long sequence. "There is a puzzle on move 8. I think it was just missed by both the players," said Shah.