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Praggnanandhaa and his sister Vaishali become history’s first Grandmaster siblings

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At the IV El Llobregat Open in Spain on Friday, Vaishali Rameshbabu achieved the feat of crossing the 2500 FIDE ratings to acquire the grandmaster title, making her just the third female grandmaster from India after Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli, according to The Indian Express.

The 22-year-old has won two straight games to open the event and triumphed over Turkish FM Tamer Tarik Selbes (2238) in the second round to reach rating.

“I am very happy to finally completed the title. It’s just two rounds. I am also focusing on the tournament. But I am really happy with the GM title,” told Chess.com.

“I’ve finally achieved a goal of mine since I started playing chess. I was so close to it so, I was really excited but there was some pressure as well. My game was not so good in the middle but somehow, I managed to win.

“I have qualified for the candidates and hopefully win this tournament.”

As a result of this accomplishment, Vaishali and her younger brother Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa are the first Grandmaster siblings in history. Additionally, they became the first brother-sister team to ever be selected as Candidates.

Vaishali’s and her brother Praggnanandhaa’s chess journeys are connected. The two have regularly had parallel success, taking home medals in the same events across a variety of events, including double bronze in the Olympics and double silver at the Asian Games.

Vaishali’s father, Rameshbabu, was an enthusiastic chess player and introduced her to the game. Seeing his daughter’s potential, he enrolled her in chess lessons when she was five years old. She advanced swiftly, taking first place in a number of state and national competitions for her age group.

Vaishali and Pragg’s growth was first accelerated by having them train under grandmaster RB Ramesh. The twins had already picked up the fundamentals of the game at Chennai’s Bloom Chess Academy after being sent there very early on.

However, they needed assistance in navigating the perilous routes of the 64 squares and someone to sharpen their intellect. “Both of them were already practising six to eight hours a day back when I started working with them. They were very hardworking, not to mention ambitious. She was a better player back then, older with a higher rating. But a few years on, Pragg made rapid growth and overtook her,” Ramesh had told The Indian Express.

Vaishali soared to popularity in the world of chess in 2015 when she emerged victorious in the under-14 girls’ division of the Asian Youth Chess Championships. She was also awarded the title of International Master (IM) at the same time.

Although it took her a few years to advance from being an International Master to receiving her third GM norm, she has the same potential as her brother to change the course of history.

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