Hero’s Welcome, Audience With Modi And A New Car: Praggnanandaa’s Reward For World Cup Exploits

Hero's Welcome, Audience With Modi And A New Car: Praggnanandaa's Reward For World Cup Exploits


What a fortnight it has been for the Indian chess prodigy GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and his family. First, the 18-year-old made chess history by storming to his first World Cup final in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he suffered a heartbreaking loss to world number-one GM Magnus Carlsen in the rapid tiebreaks.

Nonetheless, Praggnanandhaa’s run was wildly impressive and drew praise from all quarters. He was also able to take considerable solace from a check for $80,000 for finishing as the runner-up, qualifying for the next Candidates tournament and, for the first time, joining the 2700 club, thereby cementing what everyone already knew: that he is a truly elite grandmaster.

But what happened in Baku was just the start. On Wednesday Praggnanandhaa received the “dream” offer from his sponsor Mahindra of a new all-electric SUV, which retails at around $23,000, gifted to his parents, Shrimati Nagalakshmi and Shri Rameshbabu.

Anand Mahindra, chair of the Mahindra Group, said he wanted to gift the XUV400 EV to encourage other parents to introduce their children to chess. “It’s an investment in a better future for our planet, just like EVs,” Mahindra said.

Praggnanandhaa expressed his thanks on the platform X:

Then, on his return home on Thursday, it got wilder. Praggnanandhaa found himself being mobbed at Chennai International Airport as he was given a true hero’s welcome. Everything from banners proclaiming his name to percussion music and folk dance artists performing was laid on. It was an extraordinary scene—and certainly not something normally associated with chess players. 

It didn’t stop there. On Thursday, Praggnanandhaa was received by the Chief Minister of his home state Tamil Nadu, M.K. Stalin, who announced the new world number-19 would be rewarded with 3,000,000 INR ($36,000) for his exploits:

He may not have won the World Cup. However, by winning $80,000 from his runner-up spot and being responsible for a car given to his parents, Praggnanandhaa can now claim to have earned more in total from the event than Carlsen, the winner, who took home $110,000.

The rewards aren’t just financial, however. On Friday Praggnanandhaa revealed he had been invited with his parents to the official residence of the Indian Prime Minister for an audience with his country’s leader, Narendra Modi.

Praggnanandhaa posted on the platform X:

Modi responded, saying: “You personify passion and perseverance. Your example shows how India’s youth can conquer any domain. Proud of you!”

It’s not the first time India’s P.M. has taken notice of his country’s rising star. Modi previously congratulated Praggnanandhaa on X when at the age of just 16 he beat Carlsen for the first time during the 2022 Airthings Masters.

Because Modi took the time to congratulate Praggnanandhaa in person the week after India landed a rover on the Moon and saw its first athlete win gold at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, the importance being placed on chess achievement in the subcontinent is quite obvious. Long may it continue.


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