FIDE Chess World Cup: Magnus Carlsen Defeats Praggnanandhaa to Clinch Title

Praggnanandhaa is the youngest runner-up in the tournament's history.

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Indian Grandmaster Praggnanandhaa has been defeated by world number one Magnus Carlsen in the final of the 2023 FIDE Chess World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The final itself lasted three days as the 18-year-old Indian star and Carlsen played out two draws on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Thursday's rapid chess format tiebreak, Carlsen managed to win the first game and when the second game ended in a tie, the former world champion emerged victorious.

Despite his defeat, Praggnanandhaa created many records at this Chess World Cup, also becoming the youngest player to qualify for the final. He celebrated his birthday during the tournament in Baku, on 10 August.

Earlier this evening, Carlsen played a fantastic endgame to take down Praggnanandhaa in the first 25+10 Rapid tiebreak game, with the black pieces. The 32-year-old Norwegian, used his tremendous experience to squeeze out a win from an equal position, slowly pushing the Indian to the brink with brisk and precise moves, forcing Pragg to spend more time and thus land into severe time pressure. Faced with an all-out attack and with seconds on his clock, Pragg resigned.

In a must-win situation with black pieces in the second game, Pragg had to win to level the scores and force further tiebreaks, However, Praggnanandhaa could only manage a draw and thus lost the two-game tie-break 1.5-0.5. 

Carlsen eventually won the final 2.5-1.5 to claim his maiden World Cup title. This was the only title missing from his cabinet. Carlsen finally won it in Baku, playing a good tactical game by conserving his energy by agreeing to quick draws in the two classical games and outwitting his young Indian opponent in rapid chess, a format in which the Norwegian is a four-time World Champion and thus fancies his chances.

Praggnanandhaa thus ended up as the runner-up of the 2023 FIDE World Cup -- his best result in an official FIDE event at the senior level.


Magnus Carlsen after winning the 2023 FIDE World Cup.

(Photo: FIDE)

On his way to the final, Praggnanandhaa defeated world number three Fabiano Caruana in the semis after taking out world number two Hikaru Nakamura in the prelims.

The 18-year-old Indian played out a 30-move draw on Wednesday against Carlsen in the second game of the FIDE World Cup, taking the summit clash into the tiebreaker. This, after the first game of the final was also drawn, on Tuesday, after 35 moves each.

Magnus Carlsen has been struggling with a bout of food poisoning since his semifinal win earlier this week and was visibly unwell during the two previous rounds of the final.

Thursday's tiebreak round was played in rapid chess format with the players having 25 minutes each, with an increment of 10 seconds per move.


By qualifying for the final earlier this week, Praggnanandhaa also booked his place in next April's prestigious 8-player Candidates Tournament. The winner of the event will then get to challenge reigning World Champion Ding Liren for the World Championship.

At Baku this time around, four Indian Grandmasters – Praggnanandhaa, D. Gukesh, Arjun Erigaisi and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi – made it to the quarterfinals in a field of over 250 players.

Apart from Praggnanandhaa, there was one more giant slayer from the contingent with Vidit Santosh Gujrathi defeating world number five Ian Nepomniachtchi (2779) of Russia.


(With inputs from IANS)

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