Praggnanandhaa wins Challengers Chess Tour

Praggnanandhaa not only won $12,500 but also gained the right to play with the creamy layer of the chess world in the million-dollar Meltwater Champions Tour in 2022.

File picture of R. Praggnanandhaa.   -  Special Arrangement

With a stunning performance that earned him praise from the world’s elite, R. Praggnanandhaa beat American talent Christopher Yoo 3-0 to win the $40,000 Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour on Sunday.

Like in the previous two matches, Praggnanandhaa won with a game to spare in the best-of-four-game rapid encounters. In all, Praggnanandhaa scored a stupendous 8.5 from nine games. He could have finished with an astonishing 9/9 score had he not chosen to draw from a winning position against arch-rival Vincent Keymer in the semifinals.

Praggnanandhaa not only won $12,500 but also gained the right to play with the creamy layer of the chess world in the million-dollar Meltwater Champions Tour in 2022.

Indian Chess Tour to begin next year  

If World champion Magnus Carlsen was among the first ones to congratulate Praggnanandhaa on Twitter, former World champion Vladimir Kramnik and the strongest lady player in chess history, Judit Polgar, also praised the 15-year-old from Chennai.

Kramnik said of Praggnanandhaa, “He reminds me so much of the young Vishy (Anand). Judit tweeted, “Absolutely brilliant play by Praggnanandhaa.”

Asked how he planned to celebrate his title triumph, the youngster said, “Actually I need to prepare for the FIDE Grand Swiss (from October 27 to November 7 in Riga, Latvia), so probably I’ll not see chess for a day or something.”

Importantly, what Praggnanandhaa saw over the board on Sunday against Yoo was incredible.

In the first game, Praggnanandhaa played black and punished Yoo for a dubious king-move on the 50th move. Over the next five moves, the queens returned to the board and Praggnanandhaa moved within two moves of checkmating his rival after picking up two minor pieces.

In the second game, lasting 76 moves, Praggnanandhaa’s extra knight proved to be the difference. Needing just a draw from two games to win the title, Praggnanandhaa kept up the pressure in the third game. He enjoyed a four-pawn advantage in the endgame where the players had a rook each and came within 15 moves of delivering a checkmate when Yoo resigned.

Later, talking about Praggnanandhaa facing the best players in the world on the Champions Tour next year, Kramnik said. “First of all, he’s improving all the time and there is still some time before this event. With this level of play, he’s already definitely a very serious force and can challenge many players there. I’m sure he’s going to improve by then. I think he will just be not worse than any other player. He totally belongs to this Tour, so I’m really interested to see how he’s going to do there. But I’m sure he’s going to do well.”

The result:

Final: R. Praggnanandhaa bt Christopher Yoo (USA) 3-0.

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