The Chess World Cup final between Indian teenager R Praggnanandhaa and world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen went into the tie-breakers after the second game of the title clash ended in a draw on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the first game also ended in a draw. The second game finished quite quickly as after only 30 moves the players decided to shake hands. The champion will be decided via two tie-breaks on Thursday.
Five-time world champion Carlsen played a solid game with white pieces against Praggnanandhaa. However, the Indian did not face any trouble with black pieces. Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand predicted on social media that Carlsen might be playing for a draw.
— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) August 23, 2023
Even the commentators of the match, said during the initial few minutes of the match that because Carlsen was battling with food poisoning was not in the right frame of health he might be playing for a draw, which would take the final to the third day. Thus giving the Norwegian great some valuable time to recover.
Praggnanandhaa was ahead on time at the start of the contest, but was unable to press home the advantage. He himself came under time by the end of the contest. The first game on Tuesday had ended in a stalemate after over four hours of play and 70-plus moves, following which Carlsen said he was a bit under the weather.
Speaking after the game, Praggnanandhaa said, “I didn’t really think that he would go for a quick draw today, but I realised when he went for this line that he wanted to make a draw; I was also fine with that. I also feel exhausted, as I said in the previous interviews. Now I can just give everything tomorrow and relax after that.”
To a question if he realised that Carlsen was under the weather during the first game, the Indian player said, “Yeah. It didn’t feel like he had a lot of energy. I felt that. I didn’t think he was unwell. I hope he recovers tomorrow.”
Asked if he would suggest to the organisers of the World Cup in future for an extra rest day before the final, he said, “Yeah, if it is there. It would be good.”
About the media attention he was getting, the Indian star said, “I am definitely getting used to this. It is good to see so many people following chess. Chess is definitely getting popular, that way I am very happy.”
The 18-year-old Praggnanandhaa has been enjoying an incredible run in the tournament, having already beaten world No.2 Hikaru Nakamura and world No.3 Fabiano Caruana to set up a final date against the Norwegian Grandmaster.
The results in the ongoing tournament also helped Praggnanandhaa qualify for Candidates 2024 tournament, which will be held in Canada. Praggnanandhaa, thus, became the third youngest player after the legendary Bobby Fischer and Carlsen to qualify for the Candidates tournament.
After the game, Carlsen said, “Praggnanandhaa has already played a lot of tie-breaks against very strong players… I know he is very strong. If I have some energy, if I have a good day, obviously I will have good chances. I am very grateful to the organisers, FIDE and the doctors and nurses, who got me some good treatment. Today, I am feeling a bit better but I still didn’t feel like I had the energy for a full fight, so I thought, let’s get one more day of rest.
“Hopefully, I will have more strength tomorrow,” the Norwegian world No.1 added.
The two tie-break games in rapid format will be played with a time control of 25 minutes for each player plus 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1.
If those two games also fail to throw a winner, two more games with time control of 5 minutes for each player will be played. There will be 3 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1.
Praggnanandhaa is only the second Indian after the legendary Viswanathan Anand to reach the World Cup final.
With PTI inputs
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