Notwithstanding a shocking blunder to walk into a one-move checkmate for a heartbreaking loss to Poland’s Jan Krzysztof Duda on Saturday, R. Praggnanandhaa needs an outright victory in the rapid games over leader Magnus Carlsen to win the $210,000 FTX Crypto Cup rapid chess tournament in Miami on Sunday.
Praggnanandhaa, after bouncing back in the fourth rapid game to make it 2-2 and nearly winning the first blitz game for a, got himself checkmated to give the lead to the Polish. Duda made it 4-2 by scoring over the youngster who appeared to have not gotten over the loss in the first blitz game.
Carlsen (Norway) also needed blitz games to overcome Alireza Firouzja (France) 3.5-2.5.
Praggnanandhaa lost the opening game but bounced back in the fourth after two draws. Carlsen, on the other hand, lost the first but hit back in the second before the next two games ended with honours even.
Unlike Duda, who won both blitz games, Carlsen won the first and drew the next to open a two-point lead over Praggnanandhaa.
In the other two matches, Liem Le Quang (Vietnam) defeated Anish Giri (Netherlands) 2.5-0.5 just as Levon Aronian (USA) beat Hans Niemann (USA).
When the top-two players meet in the final round, Praggnanandhaa has to win over four rapid games and gain the three points required to overtake Carlsen. In case the match goes into the tie-break games, Carlsen will take the title.