V for victory! Pranav V wins Challengers Chess Tour in style

Challengers Chess Tour

The second Challengers Chess Tour came to an end on Sunday with an unexpected new champion: India’s Pranav Venkatesh.

The 16-year-old, known as Pranav V, crushed fellow Indian prodigy Raunak Sadhwani 3-0 in the final of the blitz event to pick up the $4,000 top prize.

Pranav also bags a ticket to next season’s Meltwater Champions Chess Tour to take on the elite of world chess.

And, Pranav qualifies for the showpiece Julius Baer Challenger Championship match against last year’s winner Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. That encounter will take place in Tel Aviv in December and has a further $10,000 at stake.

Replay the action here:

Commentating on the action, Judit Polgar said: “Very impressive play by Pranav, in crucial moments he was really doing very well. He was extremely motivated and, somehow, I think his mindset, his focus, was better here in this one hour and a half today.”

Pranav qualified for the Final Four having won the Magnus Academy Challenge last month. In the semi on Saturday, he knocked out the top seed Andrey Esipenko 2.5-1.5. Sadhwani, meanwhile, beat the youngest player in the event Ihor Samunenkov 3-0.

Then in Sunday’s final, Pranav got off to the perfect start with two wins before overpowering Sadhwani with the black pieces in the third.

The finishing blow was a crushing pawn storm that ended with 29… cxd3 and then 31… d3, and Sadhwani instantly resigned.

“So beautiful, and he saw it instantly,” said Grandmaster Pepe Cuenca. “He resigned, 3-0 for Pranav, such an amazing performance.”

Pranav said afterwards: “I was just trying to play the game, I did not think much about the result because coming to this point was a great thing for me, so I was just trying to play the games and concentrate on the games.”

Challengers Chess Tour prizes

Sadhwani, from Nagpur in central India, went into the final the favourite with a superior FIDE rating of 2611 to Pranav’s 2537.

Asked if the rating difference affected him, Pranav said: “No, I had the confidence I could win because after yesterday’s win [over Esipenko] I got that confidence.”

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