Praggnanandhaa (TOI Photo)
CHENNAI: The online chess Olympiad commenced on July 23 but India — the seventh seeds in the tournament — will begin their campaign on August 21 in the top division. What’s interesting to note is that the Indian team will have a brother-sister duo of Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali in the mix. GM Praggu and WGM Vaishali are in the reserves of the boys U-20 and women’s categories respectively.
The last time siblings featured in the senior Indian team at an Olympiad was in 2002 where WGM Vijayalakshmi and her sister Meenakshi were part of it. “It is a special feeling to be named in the Indian team along with my elder sister Vaishali. It’s been a long cherished dream for both of us to represent the country and what better event than the Olympiad which has 163 countries participating in it,” Praggu told the TOI.
Even as Praggu prepares for his maiden event with the senior side, he is also making sure not to lag behind with regards to his academics. “I am in class X this year and I make it a point not to miss my classes which are currently being held online due to the lockdown. In the past few months, I have begun to balance both studies and chess quite well,” said Praggu.
Vaishali, who is in her first year of Bcom, has embraced chess books like never before. “I used to go through chess books even before, but I have begun to understand its importance more now,” she said.
While the two practice separately at home, they do take time out to discuss their games and even engage in a few clashes regularly. “Praggu took interest in the sport after watching me play. But today, we both learn from each other. We root for one another and I admire his ability to stay calm against top-quality players,” Vaishali said. For Praggu, his sister’s quick decision-making stands out. “She wouldn’t be caught in two minds and that’s a great trait to have. Her assertiveness is something I would look to imbibe,” Praggu mentioned.