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First Grandmaster siblings' journey to being chess champions is inspiring people around the world

Indian siblings Pragg and Vaishali are showcasing strategic brilliance and leaving a long-lasting mark in the world of chess.

First Grandmaster siblings' journey to being chess champions is inspiring people around the world
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @pragg_chess

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is making major strides in the challenging world of chess. He was given the title of International Master when he was just ten years old. Praggnanandhaa was also the youngest person to hold the title at the time. Owing to his hard work and dedication, he was awarded the title of the second-youngest Grandmaster in 2018. The chess prodigy has also defeated five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen three times in online games.

Image Source: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa of India competes against Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran in Round 11 of the Masters Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 on January 27, 2023, in Wijk aan Zee near Haarlem, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Image Source: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa of India competes against Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran in Round 11 of the Masters Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 on January 27, 2023, in Wijk aan Zee near Haarlem, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Notably, he is also the only Indian after Viswanathan Anand to make it to the World Cup final and qualify for the Candidates tournament. Seeing all of his crowning achievements, it's easy to ascertain that Praggnanandhaa is truly a one-of-a-kind chess player from India. Interestingly enough, he was not the first one from his family to dive into the world of chess. It was his older sister, Vaishali, who was the first in the family to start playing chess professionally, per BBC.

Image Source: Rameshbabu Vaishali of India competes against Max Warmerdam of Netherlands in Round 12 of the Challengers Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 on January 28, 2023, in Wijk aan Zee near Haarlem, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Image Source: Rameshbabu Vaishali of India competes against Max Warmerdam of Netherlands in Round 12 of the Challengers Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023 on January 28, 2023, in Wijk aan Zee near Haarlem, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Vaishali is no amateur, as she has ended India's 12-year wait by becoming the third female Grandmaster after Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli. Her acquisition of the grandmaster title also means that the siblings coming from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, are essentially the first Grandmaster brother-sister pair. Just last month, 22-year-old Vaishali overcame three former women's world champions to emerge victorious at the Women's Grand Swiss tournament and qualified for the Women's Candidates tournament.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Praggnanandhaa (@pragg_chess)


 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Praggnanandhaa (@pragg_chess)


 

Even though the results from the duo have been groundbreaking, one cannot rule out the elephant in the room, which is the ever-present sibling rivalry between them. Vaishali shared, "When Pragg became the youngest International Master, he crossed my rating for the first time. Suddenly, at home, the focus was entirely on him." She further added that it upset her quite a bit and she found it difficult to cope with such emotions. It also affected her playing.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by The Bridge | Indian Sports (@thebridge_in)


 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Chess With Lokesh (@chesswithlokesh)


 

She said, "My parents would chat with me about it and I'd be okay for a while. But every time he had a great result and the attention was on him, I would slip back to feeling a bit miserable. It took me some time to overcome those feelings and accept that he is exceptional. Once I completed my Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title, I felt better about myself. Over the last couple of years, I've been nothing but proud of his achievements. I see the hard work behind it."


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Vaishali (@chessvaishali)


 

Praggnanandhaa reflected on this and said, "I think somewhere in her head, it converted into pressure. The pressure to perform and not be ignored." Despite such a strong sense of rivalry, the siblings constantly support each other through difficult times. Vaishali said, "Not too many others in chess have someone they can go back to, a family member, or an active player with whom they can analyze games and talk chess for hours. It's only now that I think that we both value this privilege."


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by SG Alpine Warriors (@sgalpinewarriors)


 

During the Asian Games in October, Vaishali was quite upset after her loss to Tan Zhongyi of China. She took a long walk with her brother to talk it out. The game proved to be so upsetting for her that she almost skipped out on the Qatar Masters. However, Praggnanandhaa convinced her to attend the match, where she performed well and managed to complete her third and final Grandmaster norm. Praggnanandhaa was also seen to be checking on his sister's game during the Grand Swiss tournament.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Praggnanandhaa (@pragg_chess)


 

These siblings represent how families can support each other and find immense success in challenging fields such as sports. Vaishali spoke about their journey, "We have grown up winning age-group tournaments together. Recently, we won the same medals at the Olympiad and Asian Games. Now we're headed to the biggest tournament of our lives together." They are a truly inspiring duo who will most likely go down as the greatest minds that the game of chess has ever seen.

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