R. Praggnanandhaa was at his gritty best as he outlasted the 2021 World Cup champion Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda following a drawn Armageddon game after six decisive games in a fifth-round thriller of the $210,000 Meltwater Champions Challenge Tour Finals on Friday.
In a fascinating contest where the players won three times each from the white side, Praggnanandhaa played black in the Armageddon game and pulled off the much-needed draw in 90 moves to be declared the winner.
Earlier, Arjun Erigaisi was back at his best in destroying Anish Giri 2.5-0.5. He won the first two games and drew the third to prevail with a rapid game to spare. Surprisingly, this was Anish’s third straight loss in three games.
In the other matches, Magnus Carlsen won the Armageddon game with white to stop former World blitz champion Liem Le Quang 4-3 and Wesley So crushed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 3-0.
Praggnanandhaa-Duda clash provided most thrills on this day. Duda twice led in the four-game rapid phase by winning the first and third games, but Praggnanandhaa bounced right back to draw level. In fact, in the fourth game, the youngster faced a must-win situation and he responded with a 40-move triumph.
In the two blitz games,Praggnanandhaa led for the first time in the match. But Duda proved his class in the second to force the deciding Armageddon game. This marathon lasted 90 moves with neither player gaining any decisive advantage.
Standings (after five rounds): 1. Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 14 match-points), 2. Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Pol, 10), 3. Wesley So (USA, 9), 4. Liem Le Quang (Vie, 9), 5-6. R. Praggnanandhaa, Arjun Erigaisi (6 each), 7. Anish Giri (Ned, 4), 8. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3).