Praggnanandhaa vs Carlsen: Title clash goes into tie-breaker after thrilling draw in Round 2

Praggnanandhaa holds Carlsen with black pieces in Game 2

Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa showed his fighting spirit and resilience as he held World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen to a draw with black pieces in the second game of the Chess World Cup 2023 final in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday. The 18-year-old, who had also drawn the first game with white pieces on Tuesday, matched Carlsen move for move and did not allow the Norwegian to create any serious threats. The game ended in a rook and pawn endgame after 54 moves, with both players agreeing to split the point.

Praggnanandhaa vs Carlsen

Praggnanandhaa, who became the youngest Indian finalist in the history of the World Cup, had a slight advantage in the opening phase as he played the Sicilian Defence and gained space on the queenside. Carlsen tried to create some counterplay on the kingside, but Praggnanandhaa defended well and neutralized his opponent’s initiative. The game soon reached a balanced position, where neither side had any realistic chances of winning.

Carlsen, who had been suffering from food poisoning for the last two days, looked tired and frustrated as he could not break through Praggnanandhaa’s solid defence. The world champion offered a draw on move 54, which Praggnanandhaa accepted without hesitation. The score in the final is now tied at 1-1, with two more classical games to be played on Thursday and Friday.

Praggnanandhaa praises Carlsen’s fighting spirit

After the game, Praggnanandhaa praised Carlsen’s fighting spirit and said that he was happy with his performance so far. He also thanked his mother, who has been accompanying him throughout the tournament, for her support and encouragement.

“I think he played very well today, he was trying to win with white. He is a very strong player and he never gives up. I am happy that I could hold him with black. It was a very interesting game,” Praggnanandhaa said in an interview.

He added: “My mother is always there for me, she helps me a lot. She is very supportive and motivating. She is very happy that I reached the final.”

Praggnanandhaa also said that he was looking forward to the next two games and hoped to play his best chess. He said that he was not feeling any pressure or nervousness, as he was enjoying the challenge of playing against the world champion.

“I am just playing my normal chess, I am not thinking about the result or anything. I am just enjoying the game and having fun. I am not feeling any pressure or nervousness, I am just confident and calm,” he said.

Carlsen admits Praggnanandhaa is a tough opponent

Carlsen, on the other hand, admitted that Praggnanandhaa was a tough opponent and that he had not been able to create any problems for him in the second game. He said that he was feeling better than yesterday, but still not at his best.

“I think he played very well today, he was very solid and accurate. I didn’t manage to create any problems for him. He defended everything very easily. It was a very boring game,” Carlsen said.

He added: “I am feeling a bit better than yesterday, but still not great. I hope to recover fully soon and play better in the next games.”

Carlsen also said that he was not underestimating Praggnanandhaa and that he respected his skills and achievements. He said that he expected a tough fight in the remaining games and that he would try to win at least one of them.

“He is a very strong player, he has shown it throughout the tournament. He has beaten many top players and reached the final. He is very talented and ambitious. I respect him a lot,” Carlsen said.

He added: “I expect a tough fight in the next games, it will not be easy to win against him. I will try to play better and win at least one game.”

Tie-breaker scenario

The Chess World Cup 2023 final is a best-of-four classical match, with each win worth one point and each draw worth half a point. If the score is tied after four games, then a series of tie-breakers will be played on Saturday, August 26.

The tie-breakers will consist of two rapid games (25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per move), followed by two blitz games (10 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per move), followed by two more blitz games (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment per move), followed by an Armageddon game (5 minutes for white, 4 minutes for black, with no increment until move 60, and black having draw odds).

The winner of the Chess World Cup 2023 will qualify for the Candidates Tournament 2024, which will determine the challenger for the World Championship match against Carlsen.

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