The remarkable journey of Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa in the FIDE World Cup came to a close as he faced off against the formidable world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. The culmination occurred in a gripping tie-break on Thursday, following a series of drawn classical games.
During the tie-break, Magnus Carlsen showcased his supremacy by securing a convincing 1.5-0.5 victory over Praggnanandhaa. The initial tie-break game saw Carlsen triumph in 45 moves, effectively countering the ambitious tactics employed by the 18-year-old Indian prodigy. Despite Praggnanandhaa’s daring gameplay, Carlsen adeptly turned the tide in his favor, underscoring his wealth of experience.
The intensity persisted into the second 25+10 tie-break game. However, this time, the encounter concluded in a 22-move draw, as Carlsen strategically opted for a more cautious approach after his triumph in the first tie-break game. This strategic maneuver underscored Carlsen’s finesse in end-game intricacies. The victory marked Carlsen’s debut World Cup win, complementing his existing collection of five World Championship titles.
The preceding classical games on Tuesday and Wednesday culminated in draws, necessitating the tie-break to determine the ultimate victor. Praggnanandhaa’s exceptional performance throughout the tournament was highlighted by his victories over world No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura and world No. 3 Fabiano Caruana. These wins paved his path to the finals against Carlsen.
In an additional achievement, Praggnanandhaa’s journey secured him a coveted spot in the upcoming Candidates 2024 tournament, scheduled to be held in Canada. This accomplishment is especially noteworthy, positioning Praggnanandhaa as the third youngest player in history, following the footsteps of the legendary Bobby Fischer and the unparalleled Magnus Carlsen, to earn qualification for the esteemed Candidates tournament.