Favourite R. Praggnanandhaa underlined his superiority over fellow Tamil Nadu Grandmaster V. Pranav by cruising to a 3-0 triumph in the best-of-four match clash of the $10,000 Julius Baer Challenger Championship in Tel Aviv.
The three-day final between Praggnanandhaa, the winner of the 2021 Challenger Tour and Pranav, the 2022 Challenger Tour champion was the first clash of its kind on the Tour, designed for the rising stars.
In the first two three-game rapid matches, Praggnanandhaa won 2.5-0.5 after clinching the first and third games. In the second rapid clash, he raced away to a 2-0 victory.
In the first of the two best-of-four blitz matches, Pranav hit back to win the first game but could not prevent the eventual champion from claiming the next two for an unsurpassable 2-1 lead.
As a result, the title stood decided with a game of the third match and an entire four-game blitz match to spare.
Later, speaking to former women’s World champion and commentator Judit Polgar, Praggnanandhaa reflected on the day’s play, “First of all before coming, I didn’t feel that well. I wouldn’t say that’s the main reason I lost (the first game). He played well when we were getting low on time.
“I was also panicking because the Champions Chess Tour has a 10-second increment. Here the rapid format has a 5-second increment. That actually makes a huge difference. Let’s say, you repeat (the moves) once, you get five seconds. So, that’s comparatively not much to calculate lines. Today (in blitz) it was just two seconds, so it took me some time to adapt to the 5-minute + 2-second increment. I think, (in the) first game I really slowed down a lot,” he said.
Praggnanandhaa, 17, was all praise for Pranav, younger by a year. “In blitz, Pranav is super strong. I have played with him online and knew it would be tough against him. I am certain if he continues to work hard, he will do well in the upcoming season of the Champions Chess Tour.”