India’s 18-year-old Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa on Monday made history by qualifying for the final of the FIDE World Cup chess tournament. He stunned world No.3 Fabiano Caruana 3.5-2.5 via the tie-break in the semi-finals to set up a summit clash with world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway. He has now become the third youngest player after the legendary Bobby Fischer and Carlsen to qualify for the Candidates tournament.
After the two-game classical series ended 1-1, the 18-year-old Indian prodigy outlasted the highly-rated American GM in a battle of wits in a nerve-wracking tie-breaker. In the final beginning on Tuesday, Praggnanandhaa will take on five-times title winner Carlsen, who beat Azerbaijan’s Nijat Abasov 1.5-0.5 in his semifinal.
Follwing the win, India’s chess legend Viswanathan Anand congratulated Praggnanandhaa.
Pragg goes through to the final! He beats Fabiano Caruana in the tiebreak and will face Magnus Carlsen now.
— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) August 21, 2023
“I didn’t expect to play Magnus in this tournament at all because the only way I could play him was in the final, and I didn’t expect to be in the final. I will just try to give my best and see how it goes!,” he said after booking a spot in the summit clash.
“It feels really good to qualify for the Candidates; I really wanted to fix this spot.” With the two 25’+10″ games ending at 1-all, Praggnanandhaa prevailed in the first 10’+10″ game against Caruana to get within a draw of setting up a final clash with world No.1 Carlsen.
“Pragg goes through to the final! He beats Fabiano Caruana in the tiebreak and will face Magnus Carlsen now. What a performance!,” chess legend Viswanathan Anand posted on social networking site ‘X’, formerly Twitter.
In the first game of tie-break, the Indian GM withstood a lot of pressure from Caruana and held on for a draw in an exciting encounter. The second rapid game too saw a similar result, pushing the semifinals to the 10’+10′ series.
Praggnanandhaa has been in a rich vein of form in the World Cup and his biggest scalp before Caruana was another American Hikaru Nakamura, the world No.2 and second-seed, following which he stopped compatriot Arjun Erigaisi.
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