Continuing his splendid run, R. Praggnanandhaa forced a psychologically-important draw with black pieces in 78 moves against World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana in the first game of their semifinal clash in the FIDE World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday.
Much before Caruana and Praggnanandhaa ended their 78-move tester with only the kings on the board, Magnus Carlsen escaped some serious trouble after local hope Nijat Abasov overlooked a winning continuation on the 34th turn, Eventually, the top seed won in 43 moves to take a 1-0 lead.
Praggnanandhaa, despite playing with a pawn less after the 41st move, was equal to the challenge. Caruana tested Praggnanandhaa’s understanding of the position which was a theoretical draw. The young Indian played accurately when the players had a rook each but Caruana banking on his lone pawn. The exchange of rooks hastened the end with Caruana letting Praggnanandhaa take the last pawn, too.
The players clash again on Sunday in the classical time-control with Praggnanandhaa playing with white pieces.
In the women’s final, second seeded Russian Aleksandra Goryachkina and Bulgarian Nurgyul Salimova drew in 33 moves after a three-fold repetition of the position.
For the third place, Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk led China’s Tan Zhongyi following a 52-move win.
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