Praggnanandhaa stuns world champion Liren, surpasses Anand as India's No. 1

Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa during Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz Tournament 2023, in Kolkata is September 2023. File photo: PTI

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands): Teenaged Indian chess superstar R Praggnanandhaa defeated world champion Ding Liren of China in the fourth round of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament here, a win which also helped him surpass the legendary Viswanathan Anand as the top-rated Indian player.

After the victory late on Tuesday night, the 18-year-old Praggnanandhaa has 2748.3 points as against 2748 of five-time world champion Anand in the FIDE live ratings. The world chess body publishes the ratings at the start of each month.

With the 62-move win with black pieces, Praggnanandhaa became the second Indian after Anand to defeat a reigning world champion in classical chess.

Praggnanandhaa had also beaten Liren at the 2023 Tata Steel tournament.

"That feels good!" Praggnanandhaa said after the win.

He is now third in the standings with 2.5 points in the Masters event.

The teenaged Indian GM has been in good form in recent times, having finished runner-up in the World Cup to Magnus Carlsen last year to qualify for the Candidates tournament to be held in April to identify the challenger to Liren.

The Masters group saw Dutch player Anish Giri emerge as the sole leader heading into the first rest day. Giri's endgame prowess secured him victory against teenaged Indian GM D Gukesh to take him to 3.5 points.

Alireza Firouzja is half a point behind the leader on 3 points.

The third Indian player in the fray, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi was held to a draw by Jorden Van Foreest in round four. He has 2 points from four rounds.

In the fifth round on Thursday, Praggnanandhaa runs into the leader Anish Giri while his compatriots Gukesh and Gujrathi will take on Ian Nepomniachtchi and Max Warmerdam respectively.

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