Grandmaster in a flash: Indian prodigy chess champ at 12

(File Photo: AFP)
Updated 25 June 2018
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Grandmaster in a flash: Indian prodigy chess champ at 12

NEW DELHI: A 12-year-old Indian boy described as “unstoppable” by his proud father has become the world’s second youngest chess grandmaster ever.
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, the son of a bank employee from the southern city of Chennai, achieved the feat with some aggressive play at an event in northern Italy that ended Sunday.
Praggnanandhaa — whose 17-year-old big sister Vaishali Rameshbabu is also no slouch at the game, being a two-time youth chess champion — was aged 12 years, 10 months and 13 days when he won the title.
But this was too old to beat the current record-holder, Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, who was 12 years and exactly seven months when he made the grade in 2002.
Praggnanandhaa’s father said that his son, who practices six hours a day and watches past matches online, was not even four when he first started taking an interest in chess.
However he said that the family could not afford to pay for extra travel and training for both the boy and his sister.
“But the passion in him to play chess was unstoppable, I had to give in and put him in coaching classes. And he has been unstoppable since,” the 53-year-old, who has the same name as his son, told Indian media.
“He was just six years old when he came second in the under-eight national championship. That is when I knew that I can’t hold him back because of our financial situation,” he told online paper The News Minute.
A predecessor to chess is thought by some to have originated in India in the sixth century AD, from where it spread to Persia and developed into the “Game of Kings” it is today.
However in modern times it only achieved major popularity in India when Vishwanathan Anand became the country’s first grandmaster aged 18 in 1988 and dominated the game in the 2000s.
On Sunday the five-time world champion congratulated Praggnanandhaa.
“Welcome to the club & congrats Praggnanandhaa!! See u soon in chennai,” he wrote on Twitter.
“He plays other outdoor sports too when he wants to relax his mind,” the prodigy’s father said.
“When his focus is not on the board, he is quite a handful. But he saves most of his aggression for the chessboard,” he said.


El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

Evelyn Hernandez (C) is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador, on February 9, 2019, where she was serving a 30-year-sentence for aggravated homicide after her baby died at birth. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

  • Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A Salvadoran court on Friday freed Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home.
After serving 33 months for aggravated homicide, 20-year-old Hernandez smiled as she was reunited with her parents and a brother in the capital San Salvador.
The court in Cojutepeque, east of the capital, ruled that she will be retried but while living at home. A hearing has been set for April 4, with a new judge, her lawyer Angelica Rivas said.
El Salvador has an extremely strict abortion ban. Hernandez gave birth in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region. She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.
She said her son was stillborn but was convicted of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.
ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.
Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.
The group said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains. She got pregnant as the result of a rape, which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.
Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.
The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus which developed without a brain.
Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized her to undergo a cesarean section. The baby died shortly after the procedure.