Indian teen chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, popularly known as Pragg, lost the tiebreaker in the finals of the FIDE World Cup after he drew his first game against five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen for the World No.1 title on Tuesday at FIDE World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Calrsen, considered the best rapid chess player in the world today, came out guns blazing in the second rapid game of the day, leading Praggnanandhaa to agree to a draw.
After the classical games ended in a stalemate, Carlsen put on a dominant show and won the first game, going on to defeat the 18-yeard old Indian Grandmaster 1.5-0.5 in the tie-breaks to finally add the World Cup to his trophy cabinet.
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.
Battling a stomach bug, 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.
The Norwegian admitted however that there was no real advantage due to his health issue.
Carlsen 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.’
For finishing second in the FIDE World Cup 2023, Praggnanandhaa has earned a whopping sum of USD 80,000 (approximately INR 66,13,444). Norway’s Carlsen is taking home USD 110K (approximately INR 90,93,551) for winning the World Cup title.
Pragg became the second Indian (after Grand Master Vishwanath Anand) to enter the tournament final.
Praggnanandhaa defeated World No. 3 Fabiano Caruana to reach the finals. He beat Caruana 3.5-2.5 after tiebreaks.
Born and raised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Praggnanandhaa took an interest in chess at just two years old, after his older sister started playing at six.
Vaishali later became a grandmaster in 2018 and an international master in 2021.
When Pragg was six himself, he bagged second rank in the under-7 Indian championships before winning gold at the Asian Championships.
He then went on to win the World Youth Chess Championships for under-8s and under-10s.
In 2016, Praggnanandhaa created history after winning his ninth-round game at the KIIT International Chess Festival in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
At the age of 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days, he became an international chess master, the youngest ever in the history of the sport.
‘Congratulations to R Praggnanandhaa for an outstanding FIDE Chess World Cup journey to the Finals. My best wishes for the title match against Magnus Carlsen. More than a billion Indians are cheering for you,’ the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had posted on X.
Union Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia had also congratulated Praggnanandhaa. Scindia wrote on X, ‘Heartiest congratulations and best of luck to India’s young genius Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa as he advances to the finals of FIDE World Cup 2023.’
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