New in Chess Classic: Praggnanandhaa shines but falls short of last-eight stage

Praggnanandhaa (7) tied for the 10th spot with team-mate Vidit Gujrathi and Norwegian Aryan Tari.

Praggnanandhaa (7) tied for the 10th spot with teammate Vidit Gujrathi and Norwegian Aryan Tari.   -  Special arrangement

Prodigious R. Praggnanandhaa’s impressive debut ended with successive draws against Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Alireza Firouzja but fell short of earning him a place among the quarterfinalists of the 16-man New in Chess Classic rapid online tournament on Tuesday.

For the fifth straight time, Carlsen (10.5 points) led the creamy layer to the quarterfinals in his search for a title on the
1.5-million dollar Champions Tour. Praggnanandhaa (7) tied for the 10th spot with teammate Vidit Gujrathi and Norwegian Aryan Tari.

READ| Vidit holds Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa stuns Duda and Karjakin

On the last day of the preliminary league, the 15-year-old Indian started with a defeat against Levon Aronian but quickly made amends by beating another debutant Norway’s Johan-Sebastian Christiansen before holding three illustrious qualifiers.

READ| Tough day for Vidit, Praggnanandhaa in New in Chess Classic

Vidit, who ended the second day with two losses, started the final day with as many defeats after running into Sergey Karjakin and Liem Quang Le. He snapped the losing streak with a draw against Leinier Dominguez
Perez, beat Gawain Jones and drew the final round with Teimour Radjabov.

Afterwards, Carlsen was pleased to top the league. “I’m very happy to be undefeated and happy with the symmetry of my score, to score +2 (two wins) on each day. I feel like I’m starting to perfect the art of getting the first seed without too much hassle. And in general, I’m relatively happy with my play. It wasn’t sparkling by any means, but
nevertheless I think it was decent.”

Asked about Praggnanandhaa being a future World champion, Carlsen said, “I think everybody sort of agrees that Alireza is the most obvious candidate to become World champion of those who are 20 and younger. Pragg, I’ve no idea. Obviously he’s extremely talented, but whether he will break through it’s very, very hard to say, but I think
we can sort of enjoy the fact that he’s playing so well at this age and I would say also fearlessly.

"He certainly didn’t show me too much respect when we were playing, so he clearly believes that he can compete at this level and I think at this point that’s sort of enough. Let’s not talk about the World Championships so much for him and just let him develop.”

Praggnanandhaa’s coach, R. B. Ramesh was elated with the youngster’s performance. “Wow! What a tournament for Praggnanandhaa (scoring) 7/15 points in the first tournament at this level! Missed a few good positions, saved a few tough ones too. A fantastic learning experience at this age for sure.”

Standings (after 15 rounds of preliminaries):
1. Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 10.5 points), 2-3. Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 9.5), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 9.5), 4-5. Wesley So (USA, 9), Levon Aronian (Arm, 9), 6-8. Alireza Firouzja (FIDE, 8.5), Liem Quang Le (Vie, 8.5), 8. Teimour Radjabov (Aze, 8.5). 9. Leinier Dominguez Perez (USA, 8), 10-13. Aryan
Tari (Nor, 7), Vidit Gujrathi (7), R. Praggnanandhaa (7), Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Pol, 7), 14. Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 6.5), 15. Gawain Jones (Eng, 3), 16. Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (Nor, 1.5).

Quarterfinal line-up: Carlsen-Radjabov; Aronian-So; Mamedyarov-Firouzja; Le-Nakamura.