Praggnanandhaa’s final date with Carlsen slayer
Young Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa, known in the chess fraternity as Praggu, became the first Indian player to reach the final of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Chessable Masters tournament after he held his nerve to outwit Dutch GM Anish Giri 3.5-2.5 on Wednesday.
The 16-year-old chess star defeated the highly-rated Giri, pipping the Dutchman in the tie-break after the four-game rapid online semi-final match ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
For the top prize, Praggnanadhaa will take on world No.2 Ding Liren of China, who shocked world No.1 Magnus Carlsen 2.5-1.5 in the other semi-final clash.
The match ended late on Tuesday night after which Praggnandhaa said: “I have to be at school around 8.45am, and now it is 2am! I’ll try not to sleep during my internal exam.”
The opening game of the semi-final ended in a tame draw before Praggnanandhaa pulled off a win in the second to hand Giri his first defeat of the tournament. In the third game, the experienced Dutch player looked to have seized the upper-hand but Praggnanandhaa fought hard to force a draw to go 2-1 up.
Staring defeat in the face, Giri hit back to win the fourth game to send the semi-final clash into the tie-break.
The Dutchman faltered in the first blitz game and surrendered it in 33 moves in an Italian Opening encounter. In the second tie-break game, Giri managed to gain an advantage but the teenager held firm and a draw sent the teenage ace into the summit clash.
Meanwhile, his coach RB Ramesh, a GM himself, said: “Congratulations @rpragchess for the victory over Anish in the semifinal of #ChessableMasters ! The ability to beat strong players despite having a bad score in the past is amazing. Proud of you kutti.”
Praggnanandhaa has been in splendid touch in the tournament. He had defeated Carlsen in the preliminary phase in which he finished fourth.
In the quarter final, Praggnanandhaa had defeated China’s Wei Yi 2.5-1.5. The teenager had opened with a win with black in 90 moves. He built on that fine start to take the second game of the four-game match to go 2-0 up.
The Chinese bounced back to claim the third game but a draw in the fourth was enough for the GM to seal a spot in the semi-finals.
(Written with inputs from PTI)