Chess World Cup: Pragg-Carlsen final heads into tie-breakers

Azerbaijan's first Woman Grandmaster, Aynur Sofiyeva, makes the ceremonial first move in the second game between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and India's R Praggnanandhaa at the final of the Chess World Cup 2023 in Baku on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Baku: In an anticlimax of sorts, the second game of the Chess World Cup final between Indian teen sensation R Praggnanandhaa and Magnus Carlsen failed to throw a winner, as it ended in a draw after 30 moves here on Wednesday.

The two players settled for a quiet draw in the second classical game after one-and-a-half hours of play.

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. The Indian did not face any trouble with black pieces, with the players agreeing to a draw after 30 moves in an equal Bishop ending.

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. I did feel that he did not have a lot of energy. 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.

Posting on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) during the game, former world champion Anand wrote, "Wow, did not expect this opening! Is Magnus repeating his game 12 strategy of 2016 and aiming for a tiebreak?"

"If so, Magnus has spent the day thinking of the tiebreak whilst Prag can only start to do so after the game."

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