Young Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa produced a superb performance, wining three straight games including two in the blitz tie-breaks to outwit world No.1 Magnus Carlsen 4-2 in the final round of the FTX Crypto Cup here on Monday. However, despite the win over Carlsen, the 17-year old could only take second place in the final standings. The Norwegian won the top prize on the basis of a higher score. He finished with 16 match points to the Indian prodigy’s tally of 15.
“I’ve been playing badly all day, but now I’m getting the results I deserve… it’s never good to lose, but this is as good a time as any!,” Carlsen said after the match.
Alireza Firouzja, another highly-rated teen and a prodigy, also finished on 15 points but had to settle for third place as he had lost the clash against Praggnanandhaa earlier.
The first two games of the Carlsen-Praggnanandhaa match were drawn before the world No.1 went ahead by clinching the third.
In a surprise turn of events, the Indian won the fourth game to push the match into the tie-breaks. He shocked the Norwegian by winning both the games in the tie-break.
Praggnanandhaa has been in splendid form this year and had previously beaten the world champion twice in online events.
He also played a crucial role in the India ‘B’ team claiming a bronze medal in the 44th chess Olympiad in Chennai recently.
“I think it could have done better the last few days but I think overall 2nd is good,” Praggnanandhaa said after the game against Carlsen.
Praggnanandhaa started his campaign with victory over world No.4 Firouzja and also scored wins over Anish Giri and Levon Aronian.
“Fantastic finish towards the end! @rpragchess won in blitz tiebreak against Magnus #FTXCryptoCup ! Great defensive skills at crucial junctures, some good opening preparations, some bad decisions, overall very satisfying,” his coach R B Ramesh tweeted.
In other matches in the final round, Firouzja beat Aronian 2.5-1.5, Quang Liem Le (China) beat Hans Niemann, while Jan-Krzystof of Poland thrashed Anish Giri 2.5-0.5.
The eight-player all-play-all tournament was the American finale of the Champions Chess Tour. Each match was played over four rapid games, with blitz tiebreaks in case of a 2-2 draw.
Final placings: 1. Magnus Carlsen 16 match points, 2. R Praggnanandhaa 15, 3. Alireza Firouzja 15, 4. Liem Le 12, 5. Jan-Krzystof Duda 11, 6. Levon Aronian 8, 7. Anish Giri, 8. Hans Niemann 0.
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