FIDE Chess World Cup: Teenage Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa stuns World No. 3 to reach final
The 18-year-old defeated World No 3 Fabiano Caruana in the semi-finals.
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa defeated World No 3 Fabiano Caruana in the semi-final tie of the ongoing FIDE Chess World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan. The 18-year-old held the US Grandmaster in the final game to beat him 3.5-2.5 in the match and advance to the Chess World Cup final. Earlier, R Praggnanandhaa had become only the second Indian ever to qualify for the semi-finals of the FIDE World Cup — Viswanathan Anand was the first.
The young prodigy will now face World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen in the title clash. The winner of the tournament will be finalised on August 24. With his qualification to the finals, R Praggnanandhaa has also confirmed his place in the 2024 Candidates Tournament.
Praggnanandha’s final’s opponent Magnus Carlsen defeated Azerbaijan’s Nijat Abasov in the semi-finals and D Gukesh in the quarter-finals. Reacting on the opportunity of playing Magnus Carlsen in the finals, R Praggnanandhaa said, “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!”
Seeded 31st in the tournament, Praggnanandhaa secured wins against higher seeded players like World No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura and compatriot Arjun Erigaisi, before finally getting the better of USA’s World No. 3 Fabiano Caruana in the semis to reach the final.
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206 players competed in the tournament, of which 10 were Indians. Expressing his happiness over the youngster qualifying for the finals of the FIDE World Cup, Indian legend Viswanathan Anand tweeted, “Pragg goes through to the final! He beats Fabiano Caruana in the tiebreak and will face Magnus Carlsen now. What a performance!”
The 2023 edition of the tournament has seen impressive performances from the Indians. Praggnanandha, alongwith Arjun Erigaisi, Vidit Gujrathi and D Gukesh, were the four Indians to qualify for the quarter-finals of the FIDE Chess World Cup 2023. Many called the domination by the Indians in the tournament a legacy of the Indian great Viswanathan Anand.