Surviving some anxious moments in the fourth rapid game, R. Praggnanandhaa continued his dream run by taking down fancied Levon Aronian 3-1 to match Magnus Carlsen’s tally of 12/12 points after four rounds of the $210,000 FTX Crypto Cup rapid chess tournament in Miami on Thursday.
As a result, for the fourth straight day, Praggnanandhaa added $7500 for winning within four rapid games, without needing the tiebreak games in blitz and Armageddon.
In the other matches, Carlsen (Norway) defeated Le Quang Liam (Vietnam) 3-1, third-placed Alireza Firouzja (France) overcame Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) 2.5-1.5 and Anish Giri (Netherlands) subdued last-man Hans Niemann (USA) 2.5-1.5.
With three rounds to go, the leaders enjoyed a four-point lead over Firouzja. The line-up for the next round is: Liem (3)-Praggnanandhaa (12); Duda (4)-Carlsen (12); Niemann (0)-Firouzja (8) and Aronian (5)-Giri (4).
“I am happy with the result but not the quality of my play,” was Praggnanandhaa’s initial remarks after escaping to victory in the fourth rapid game following a late blunder from Aronian.
After a not-so-thrilling first game that ended in a draw in 37 moves, Aronian appeared better second game that ended with honours even in 42 moves.
“Probably I was worse in the middle-game,” said Praggnanandhaa and continued, “I was trying to find some tactical blow, but I couldn’t find it. I think none of them were working, and somehow I managed to liquidate to a draw.”
The third game made up for the lack of thrills in the match so far. Aronian misplayed the Grunfeld as early as on the 10th move and Praggnanandhaa duly trapped his queen. Levon’s torture ended on the 34th move with his resignation.
Facing a must-win situation in the fourth game, Aronian repeated the opening lines of the second game. Praggnanandhaa sacrificed two pawns and later a knight before a stage was reached where he had a rook less on the board. He still held winning chances since his queen, rook and bishop had kept the rival king under siege. But soon after Praggnanandhaa went to capture Aronian’s rook, white’s safe king and three extra pawns left the Indian in a desperate position.
Aronian, who was blitzing his moves to keep Praggnanandhaa under added pressure from the clock, faltered between the 40th and the 42nd moves. Praggnanandhaa was quick to seize his chance. Aronian resigned on the 44th move, sportingly congratulated Praggnanandhaa for his play with a smile and left the hall.