Chess World Cup: Pragga holds Magnus Carlsen to another draw

Baku (Azerbaijan): India’s 18-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa played out a 30-move draw with World No.1 Magnus Carlsen in the second game in their two-game final in the FIDE World Cup here on Wednesday, taking the summit clash into the tiebreaker.

Praggnanandhaa, who was held to a draw with white pieces in the first game, held the Norwegian five-time World Champion in Classical Chess to another draw, this time with black pieces, as they remained tied 1-1 after two games.

The second successive draw means the two players were set to come back to the board on Thursday to play shorter games in the tiebreaker to decide who wins the World Cup. 

If he wins, Carlsen will claim his first World Cup title while Prggnanandhaa is hoping to become the youngest winner of the World Cup by claiming his maiden title. 

In the second classical game, Carlsen opted for the Four Knights Variation in Spanish Opening to which Pragg responded with precise moves.

Carlsen, the 32-year-old five-time World Champion from Norway, offered an early exchange of knights and his 18-year-old rival from Chennai accepted it. After an exchange of a few more pieces, they reached an equal position.

Neither of them managed to gain any advantage as they reached an equal endgame. Carlsen usually likes to play such positions, slowly chipping around the opponent’s defence and getting him to make mistakes. 

But in recent times, he has expressed his preference for shorter games of 1-2 hours to decide the outcome instead of playing for 5-6 hours.

Another reason why Carlsen did not press for victory was that he was not 100 percent fit, still recovering from food poisoning. He said he was feeling a little better on Wednesday, but he was still low on energy.

On his part, Praggnanandhaa said he did not think Carlsen would go for a quick draw.

“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,” said Praggnanandhaa.

Praggnanandhaa said he did not feel Carlsen was unwell, though he did not think the Norwegian had a lot of energy.

Image courtesy of FIDE

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