Recovering from a bout of food poisoning, an unwell Magnus Carlsen chose to play out a quick draw that R. Praggnanandhaa did not mind. As a result of this breezy 30-move draw on Wednesday, the battle for the World Cup will be decided in tie-break games in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Thursday.
The second classical time-control game was the shortest for both players in the competition. The opening choice of Carlsen, where all four knights were out of their starting blocks within the first three moves, usually leads to an equal endgame. The series of exchanges that followed left none in doubt that the game was headed for an early finish.
By the time the players completed the mandatory 30 moves before a draw offer could be made, each player had a bishop and six pawns.
The early finish, with both players having more than an hour on the clock, gave enough time for the finalists to return on Thursday with renewed energies.
For the record, so far in the competition, Carlsen figured in only four tie-break games – all against young German Vincent Keymer – while Praggnanandhaa played two against Hikaru Nakamura, seven against Arjun Erigiasi and four against Fabiano Caruana.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Praggnanandha when asked about having more experience of playing tie-break games, than Carlsen, in this World Cup.
AS IT HAPPENED | PRAGGNANANDHAA VS CARLSEN CHESS WORLD CUP FINAL ROUND 2 HIGHLIGHTS
“Magnus is the favourite in any format, even in bullet (1-minute chess games). Anything can happen so I’ll give my best and see.”
Asked about the short draw, Praggnanandhaa said, “Mainly, it was due to his bad health because it is very rare to see Magnus playing for a draw with white (pieces).
“I realized after his fifth move (when Carlsen went for an exchange of knights), that he just wanted to make a draw. I also feel exhausted. Now I can give everything for tomorrow and relax after that.”
Talking about the first game, Praggnanandhaa said, “It didn’t feel that he was having a lot of energy but during the game, I didn’t think he was unwell. I hope he recovers tomorrow.”
PRAGGNANANDHAA vs CARLSEN MOVE-BY-MOVE INTERACTIVE
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“I want to rest today and come out with a fresh mind. It is important because I’ve been playing a lot of tie-break games here. So I know it can take a lot of games, even shorter ones. I’ve to be ready for everything.”
Carlsen said he was feeling a little better than he did the previous day. “Still, it didn’t feel like I had the energy for a full fight. So I thought, let’s get one more day of rest. Hopefully, I’ll have more strength tomorrow.”
Showing respect for his young rival, the World No. 1 said, “He has already played a lot of tie-break games against some very strong players. I know he is very strong. If I have the energy, if I have a good day, obviously, I will have a good chance.”
Later, the battle for the third place also moved to Thursday when Fabiano Caruana defeated local hope Nijat Asabov in 59 moves to avenge the loss suffered on Tuesday..
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