Baku: The brilliant run by India's Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in the FIDE World Cup 2023 ended in the final on Thursday with the 18-year-old losing to World No.1 Magnus Carlsen in the two-game rapid tie-break series.
After holding the five-time World Champion Magnus Carlsen to consecutive draws in the Classical games, the Grandmaster from Chennai, the youngest-ever to reach the FIDE World Cup final, lost the first rapid game under severe time pressure.
World no.1 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.
End of the challenge
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.
The 18-year-old Indian prodigy had an impressive tournament, gaining a lot of rating points and is expected to move up nine places to 20 when the FIDE Rating list is updated on September 1.
On his way to the final, Praggnanandhaa defeated, among others, world No.2 Hikaru Nakamura and No.3 Fabiano Caruana, both Americans. By winning the silver medal in the World Cup, Praggnanandhaa also secured a berth in the FIDE Candidates Tournament, the winner of which will take on reigning World Champion Ding Liren in the World Championship Match in 2024.
Fabiano Caruana of the United States scored a convincing victory with black over Nijat Abasov in their first tiebreak game and went on to clinch third place.Caruana thus also secured a ticket to the FIDE Candidates tournament next year.