Praggnanandhaa defeats Giri, seals place in finals of Chessable Masters online rapid tournament

R. Praggnanandhaa defeated Anish Giri to enter the finals of the Chessable Masters online rapid tournament.

R. Praggnanandhaa

FILE PHOTO: R. Praggnanandhaa in action.   -  The Hindu

Continuing to gain the respect of the chess elite, R. Praggnanandhaa knocked out in-form Anish Giri 1.5-0.5 in the blitz tie-breaker after their best-of-four rapid games ended 2-2 in the Chessable Masters online chess tournament on Tuesday.

A previously-unbeaten Anish who topped the 16-player preliminary league played on a round-robin format, joined runner-up Magnus Carlsen on the sidelines. World No. 2 Ding Liren slammed the door on the World No. 1 2.5-1.5 after winning the fourth 15-minute rapid game.

The 16-year-old became the first Indian to reach the final in an event on the cash-rich online Champions Chess Tour. The two-day final will commence on Wednesday. It involves two sets of matches, unlike one as seen in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

However, Praggnanandhaa appears for his Class XI exam on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister in Chennai on Thursday. How the youngster deals with these commitments on the days of the final remains to be seen.

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On Tuesday, Praggnanandhaa maintained his consistent play by drawing the first game with black pieces and then making the most of his opening advantage in the second. During the closing stages, Praggnanandhaa held his nerves to find strong moves and forced his famed rival to err decisively on the 30th move. Once Anish realised he was trapped in a checkmating net, he resigned on the 33th turn.

Anish looked like hitting back in the third but could not seize his moment. In fact, later in the game, Praggnanandhaa missed a winning continuation before the game ended in a 76-move draw.

Facing a must-win situation with black pieces, Anish punished Praggnanandhaa for an error of judgement on the 36th move, by checkmating him five moves later.

This led the match into the two  5-minute blitz games to break the tie. It was Praggnanandhaa’s turn to return the favour after Anish blundered on the 32nd move. The youngster found the precise
continuation and threatened to capture the white knight. Anish gave up a move later.

For the second time during the evening, Anish had to win to stay alive in the match.

But the second blitz game was so evenly fought that Anish had no choice but to take a few chances. This equal-game turned Praggnanandhaa’s way on the 36th move after Anish erred. Eight moves later, when it became clear that Praggnanandhaa’s pawn, on the extreme queenside, could not be stopped, Anish offered a draw. Praggnanandhaa accepted it to clinch an entry into the final.

The semifinals:

R. Praggnanandhaa bt Anish Giri (Ned) 2-2 (1.5-0.5 in blitz tiebreaker); Ding Liren (Chn) bt Magnus Carlsen (Nor) 2.5-1.5.

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