The recent success of Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa the 16-year-old chess prodigy, has brought the game of 64 squares back into the news headlines. The young Indian recently defeated world champion Magnus Carlsen for the second time within a few months. But for those who have been following the careers of Indian chess stars, it may not have been a big surprise. India has always produced some extremely talented chess players such as Manuel Aaron, Viswanathan Anand, Koneru Humpy, P. Harikrishna, D. Harika, Suryasekhar Ganguly, Dibyendu Barua, Tania Sachdev, Vidit Gujrathi and many others. But in the euphoria of our modern day international successes we have forgotten India's first chess superstar. He was a humble and quiet man, not given to loud speech or self aggrandisement. His name was Mir Sultan Khan who came from a humble background. Being born in a small village in Khushab District (now in Pakistan) his family was traditionally landowner in the region. Since the major part of his career took place before the creation of Pakistan, he was identified as an Indian in the international events and so we must refer to him as Indian. Such was his talent that Europeans rated him at the same level as the brilliant mathematician S. Ramanujan - a genius created by nature. Sultan Khan could not read English so he never read any of the books on chess theories and techniques written by the world's great experts. Champion players used to study such books for many years before they reached a high level. But Sultan Khan couldn’t read these theories. He relied only on his superb grasp of the game. He learnt chess from his father at the age of 9 and by the age of 21 he was considered as one of the leading players in undivided India. A well known personality namely Colonel Nawab Sir Umar Hayat Khan was impressed with his talent and became his patron. Sultan Khan travelled with Sir Umar Hayat Khan to Great Britain, where he took the chess world by storm. In an international chess career of only five years beginning in 1929, he won the British championship on three occasions. He scored impressive victories and his match results placed him among the top ten players in the world at that time. According to British chess expert and correspondent David Vincent Hooper and another chess expert Kenneth Whyld, India's Sultan Khan was "perhaps the greatest natural player of the pre World War 2 era." This was no small praise since many of the famous legends of chess history played during this period. But although he was one of the world's top players in the early 1930s, the world's chess body FIDE did not award him the titles of Grandmaster or International Master. In 1929 Sir Umar took him to London, where a training tournament was organized for his benefit. Due to his inexperience and lack of theoretical knowledge, he did not fare very well. His practice till then had been in Indian chess with slightly different methods. But two British champions named Winter and Yates trained with him to help him to prepare for the British chess championship. His natural judgement and skill helped him to make rapid progress and to everyone's surprise he won the British championship that year.Later Sultan Khan registered a series of triumphs over many of the world's leading players. His games against world champions and legends such as Max Uwe (mathematician and chess world champion from 1935 to 1937), Jose Raul Capablanca (legend of chess and world champion from 1921 to 1927) and Alexander Alekhine (world champion after Capablanca ) were watched in awe by chess pundits and young learners alike. In 1932 Sultan Khan again won the British Championship and repeated it in 1933. Sultan Khan's British trainer Hooper wrote about him: "When Sultan Khan first travelled to Europe his English was so rudimentary that he needed an interpreter. Unable to read or write, he never studied any books on the game, and he was put into the hands of trainers who were also his rivals in play. He never mastered the opening gambits which cannot be learned by the application of common sense alone. Under these adverse circumstances, and having known international chess for a mere seven years, Sultan Khan nevertheless had few peers in the middle game techniques and was among the world's best end players. Overall he was one of the world's best ten players. This achievement brought admiration from Capablanca who called him a genius. It was an accolade that the legend of chess rarely bestowed on any one." But Sultan Khan's brilliant career, which blazed like a meteor in the sky, faded just as abruptly. The climate of Europe did not suit him at all and he had to struggle with ill health during all his trips. He missed the home comforts of Punjab. The British climate, the food and the language were all unfamiliar to him. After his initial successes he decided that he would not go to Europe again to play in tournaments. Whatever he had to prove, he had proved. Towards the end of his life Sultan Khan seemed to have become disillusioned with chess for unknown reasons. He passed away on April 25th, 1966 in Sargodha in Pakistan. By then he was a Pakistani citizen because the land had been divided and his birthplace fell on the Pakistan side of the border. But even today his games are recorded in the annals of chess history and experts study them sometimes to gain new insights into the myriad ways that this intriguing game is played.