In a thrilling display of skill and strategy, India’s rising chess star Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa secured a draw against the world-renowned Magnus Carlsen, a five-time World Cup winner and the current World No. 1, in the opening game of the FIDE Chess World Cup 2023 final held in Baku.
The intense battle unfolded on Tuesday, August 22, as the two chess giants engaged in a strategic contest that eventually ended in a draw after 35 moves. Praggnanandhaa, playing with the white pieces in the first classical match, showcased his prowess against the formidable Carlsen. In the second classical game scheduled for Wednesday, Magnus Carlsen will have the white pieces, setting the stage for another captivating encounter.
The opening match saw both players making calculated moves, exchanging queens and bishops during a period of rapid moves. Despite the rapid tempo, the players displayed meticulous precision in their strategies, each move met with careful consideration.
The Chess World Cup final consists of two classical games, with each player granted 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment for each move.
Should the classical games not determine a winner, the players will proceed to the rapid format, involving two games with a time control of 10 minutes per player and a 10-second increment for each move. If the outcome remains unresolved, two more rapid games with a time control of 5 minutes and a 3-second increment per move will ensue. In the event of a continued tie, the final will be decided through a sudden-death mode blitz game.
Praggnanandhaa’s journey to the World Cup final has been nothing short of remarkable. He earned his spot by triumphing over world No. 3 Fabiano Caruana in the semifinals, with a score of 3.5-2.5 via the tie-break. The young chess sensation’s achievements continue to mount, as he becomes the third youngest player ever, following the footsteps of legendary figures Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen, to qualify for the prestigious Candidates tournament.
Reflecting on his remarkable journey, Praggnanandhaa expressed his surprise at facing Magnus Carlsen in the final and his determination to give his best in the encounter. “It feels really good to qualify for the Candidates; I really wanted to fix this spot,” he added, highlighting his commitment to achieving excellence on the global chess stage.