World no. 1 ranked chess player Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat India’s 18-year-old prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in their FIDE Chess World Cup final duel as the all-time great finally adds the only major title missing from his trophy cabinet so far. Carlsen had briefly been on the backfoot in the first game of the day but took command towards the end, putting some time pressure on Praggnanandhaa. Carlsen was far more dominant in the second game.
The Norwegian will take home $1,10,000 while the runner-up, Praggnanandhaa will be awarded $80,000 (Rs.66 lakhs). Praggnanandhaa lost the final bout but his World Cup journey this year has been quite inspiring as the 18-year-old took down two of the world’s top three, to set up a summit clash with Carlsen. The boy from Chennai secured his place in the 2024 Candidates Tournament – an event that determines who gets to challenge the current world champion, Liren of China.
The ultimate title decider started on Tuesday as Game 1 between the two chess geniuses ended in a draw after 35 moves. Even after Game 2 on Wednesday, the winner could not be found and therefore the conclusion of the match was decided through a tie-breaker today (August 24). In the first rapid game of the Final tie-breaker, Carlsen prevailed with black, leaving his Indian opponent in a must-win situation. The Norwegian was required to just draw the second tie-breaker game to win the final game of the Chess World Cup, 2023.
The 18-year-old chess prodigy was just one step away from winning the title that eluded India’s legendary GrandMaster Viswanathan Anand, a former five-time World Chess Champion.
Praggnanandhaa enjoyed an incredible run in the tournament, having beaten World No.2 Hikaru Nakamura and World No.3 Fabiano Caruana consecutively. Praggnanandhaa on August 21 defeated World No. 3 player Fabiano Caruana of USA in tie-breaks in FIDE World Chess Cup semifinal, following a 1-1 tie in their two-game classics – a win which helped him set up the final summit clash against Carlsen.
Before Praggnanandhaa, legendary GrandMaster from India and two-time World Chess Championship winner (2000 and 2002), Viswanathan Anand was the only Indian chess player ever to make it to the finals of the Chess World Cup. In the past 21 years, Praggnanandhaa is the first Indian to reach the Chess World Cup final, after Viswanathan Anand.
At the age of just 16, Praggnanandhaa had defeated the then-world champion Magnus Carlsen in a rapid game at the Airthings Masters Rapid Chess Tournament on 22 February, 2022 to become the youngest player ever to defeat the Norwegian. Praggnanandhaa became the youngest (10 years, 10 months, and 19 days) international master in history in 2016.
18-year-old Praggnanandhaa, born on August 10, 2005 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu is now the third youngest chess player ever after the legendary Bobby Fischer and Carlsen to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, which will be held in Canada in the year 2024.
Meanwhile, Fabiano Caruana takes home the bronze medal.
Carlsen’s dodgy stomach
Carlsen had an extra day compared to Praggnanandhaa because of the fact that the latter had to play a tie-breaker in his semi-final tie. But he admitted that there was no real advantage he gained there because of the fact that he had been hit with a stomach bug.
This has been a major factor thus far in this tie. Here is what he said after the first round: “Normally, I would just probably have a bit of an advantage having a rest day while he had to play a tough tiebreak yesterday, but I’ve been in a pretty rough shape the last couple of days. I got some food poisoning after the game against Abasov. I haven’t been able to eat for the last two days. This also meant that I was really calm cause I had no energy to be nervous, I am happy with the way that I solved the problem in the opening so the result is fine.”
All about the tie-breaker format – World Cup final
This piece of information is for the uninitiated – today these two players played multiple matches. It started with the first tie-breaker stage where two sets of rapid games were played. The time control was 25 minutes for the game plus an additional 10-second increment per move. Here, if the overall score is tied 1-1 at the end of it, then the match proceeds to the second tie-breaker stage. The time control for this is 10 minutes plus a 10-second increment.
If there is no winner after this tie-break as well, it moves to a two-game blitz series. Each player is given five minutes on the clock, with an additional three seconds added after each move. In case there are no winners here either, the game moves on to the last stage. Here a sudden death-blitz match takes place. The time control for each game is three minutes with a two-second increment (3+2 time control). A drawing of lots determines which player plays white. If this ends in a tie, the players switch colours and play another blitz game. This goes on until a winner is decided.
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