Success and Raunak Sadhwani go hand in hand. At the tender age of 14, Raunak has been scaling new heights every day and showing maturity beyond his age.
The only Grandmaster from the Orange City, Raunak added another feather to his illustrious cap when he helped Armenia Eagles team triumph in the Pro Chess League 2020 on Monday.
Raunak, who is the second GM from Vidarbha after Swapnil Dhopade, was an integral part of the champion team. The winning team got richer by $20,000 which will be divided equally among all Armenia Eagles players.
The Pro Chess League finals were the culmination of the fourth season that began on January 6, 2020, followed by the playoffs held in March. The final four teams brought top Grandmasters to fight for a $40,000 total prize fund, with $20,000 going to the winning team Armenia Eagles.
St. Louis Archbishops had to be satisfied with the runners-up spot. China Pandas placed third, while Canada Chess Brahs finished fourth.
Raunak, a student of the Centre Point School, Katol Road, was the only Indian player qualified for this grand event, competing with the top players of the world.
In the entire Pro Chess League 2020 season, Raunak performed with a whooping rating performance of 2700 plus which in itself is an achievement. He is a young GM and making rapid progress on the chequered board.
Pro Chess League teams normally used to pick talented young players because they are usually slightly underrated. But this was during the time of the rating cap. The fact that they still chose Raunak without a rating cap is very commendable and is very reflective of team manager Artak and his coach Zaven’s trust in him.
It was a fun-filled Sunday evening playing PCL Finals against the formidable St. Louis Archbishops team comprising world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, world No. 8 Wesley So, world No. 14 Dominguez Perez, Leneir, and Junior No. 2 Xiong Jeffery, who all are from the United States.
It was a knockout event where all play all and time control was 10 minutes plus 2 seconds. Armenian Eagles won the finals 9.5-6.5 against the strongest players and hot favourites. Underdogs Armenia Eagles surprised their mighty opponents by three points. The team was a combination of one experienced and three youngsters. Raunak was the youngest member of the squad.
This event was supposed to be held in Norway but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers decided to have it online as it is not possible to travel during these days.
Raunak was thrilled to emerge champion and living up to the expectations of his team management.
“I am very happy. This title will give me a lot of confidence. I have been playing PCL for the last three years but have reached the semi-finals but this time it is something special. I have been dreaming about this for the last three years and I am glad that it is fulfilled now. It gave me real pleasure,” said Raunak, who is supported by Lakshya.
“There were many strong players available for the AE team but they chose me in the crucial semis and finals. I am grateful to them and proud of myself that I performed as per their expectations. I am sure this crown will open many opportunities for me. Now it’s a huge celebration time with my family after we celebrated with the team last night,” added Raunak.