Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand on Sunday heaped praise on the country’s latest Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa, saying it was a “fantastic achievement” to earn the title at such a young age.

The 12-year-old boy from Chennai recently became the second youngest GM of all time and the youngest Indian to earn the title. There is only one man in the history of the game to have done it quicker than him – Sergey Karjakin, back in 2002 when he was 12 years and seven months old. Praggnanandhaa was 12 years and eight months old when he became GM.

Anand, India’s first Grandmaster, was 18 when he earned his third GM norm. The 48-year-old advised the chess prodigy to “just go out there and enjoy himself hereafter rather than thinking about the expectations because it’s a very strong field”.

Addressing a function held in Chennai to felicitate Praggnanandhaa, Anand added, “There was a bit too much pressure on him when he was so close to breaking the record. It’s very nice that he has accomplished it very quickly afterwards and it’s a fantastic achievement. I managed to become a GM only when I was 18 and to do it at such a young age takes some doing.”

Anand, who interacted with Praggnanandhaa days after the 12-year-old won the Gredine Open title in Italy, said he took an immediate liking towards the Chennai boy.

“I am very happy that he visited me a couple of days back right after he won the title,” Anand said. “There are some people who you start liking immediately and Pragg is one. It may be because he is young.”

He added, “Across the world, there is a lot of enthusiasm for him. The chess community, be it in any part of the world, was following his quest to see if he would break the record.”

The current world rapid chess champion also said Praggnanandhaa benefitted a lot from the support he got from various quarters, including his family, school and coach: “The entire environment has to be conducive. It’s always nice to receive support but it is wonderful when you receive it at the right time, when you need it the most.”

Anand also said the 12-year-old would need to cope with the expectations of the world now that he has broken a record. “My advice to him would be to see it as a journey for at least a decade,” Anand said. “It really doesn’t matter as to what happens at every step now. I feel he must be very relaxed now. Once you hit a goal, you don’t know what to do with yourself.”

Praggnanandhaa played simultaneous games of chess blindfolded at the event. He will next take part in a tournament in Leon, Spain, from July 5.

With inputs from PTI