Displaying his never-say-die approach in good measure, R. Praggnanandhaa exacted timely revenge to stall Arjun Erigaisi and took their World Cup quarterfinal into the tie-break phase in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday.
Playing black and needing a win to stay in contention, Praggnanandhaa gained a sizable advantage on the 38th move but there was no shortcut to victory. Arjun kept the battle alive but could not prevent his younger rival from converting one of his two extra pawns into a queen on the 75th turn and resigned.
On Thursday, these teenagers face off again shorter time duration games and promise a thrilling fare.
However, the day also saw the exit of the other two Indians – D. Gukesh and Vidit Gujrathi.
AS IT HAPPENED | WORLD CUP 2023 QUARTERFINALS
Gukesh, facing a must-win situation a day after dropping the first game to favourite Magnus Carlsen, played solidly with black pieces and came out with a 59-draw to end his impressive campaign. Gukesh was always better in this game but Carlsen never let the youngster have any serious chance of drawing level.
Like Gukesh on Tuesday, it took just one error from Vidit Gujarathi to signal his exit against the lesser-rated local hope, Nijat Abasov. Playing black, Vidit got it wrong on the 17th move by choosing to castle on the queen’s side. Thereafter, Abasov launched a calculated attack on the castled king, brought a second queen on the board and off the next turn, checkmated the Indian to end the contest in 44 moves.
If Abasov booked his semifinal spot against Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana emerged as the next challenger for Arjun or Praggnanandhaa. Caruana dominated his American compatriot Leinier Dominguez Perez to win in 94 moves.
In the women’s semifinals, second-seeded Russian Aleksandra Goryachkina got the draw needed to get past China’s Tan Zhongyi in 66 moves and awaits the winner of the tie-breaker involving Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk and Bulgarian underdog Nurgyul Salimova.
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