Indian chess prodigy Karthikeyan Murali stuns world champion Magnus Carlsen at Qatar Masters, marking a historic win in classical chess.
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa of India battled back from the verge of defeat to force a blitz tiebreak in his sixth round match against World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland in the FTX Crypto Cup, the second major competition of the Champions Chess Tour.
Magnus Carlsen, the world champion from Norway, had to battle to the very end but prevailed over Alireza Firouzja in the tiebreaks.
They are now tied after their divergent results earned Carlsen two points and Pragg one, giving the Norwegian the lead with 15 points and the Indian in second place with 13. Firouzja was awarded one point and finished in a close third place with 12 points despite falling to Carlsen in the tiebreak.
The FTX Crypto Cup is set for a thrilling climax on Sunday night (IST time) when Carlsen and Indian up-and-comer Praggnanandhaa face off in a final shootout for the title after Saturday’s thrilling activity on the sixth day of the competition.
The final match between the two teams that have so far dominated the USD210,000 premier esports competition, which is taking place in Florida’s Eden Roc Miami Beach, is what will determine the winner.
After defeating the fascinating 19-year-old Iranian-French youth Alireza Firouzja in the sixth round, Carlsen is now the clear favourite.
The world champion was forced into tiebreaks by Firouzja, but Carlsen ultimately prevailed to put an end to the youngster’s lingering chances of finishing in the top two on Sunday.
The deadly Pole Jan-Krzysztof Duda forced Carlsen’s biggest rival Pragg to fight back and bring their match into tiebreaks. The young man from Chennai made a serious error and lost in a frantic blitz play-off.
However, it didn’t really matter because Pragg was still in the running for the championship thanks to the point he had earned by reaching that point.
However, Carlsen now has a two-point advantage over his Indian opponent, and he is confident that if he advances to tiebreaks in the seventh and final round on Sunday, he will win the FTX trophy. That would put Carlsen at 16 points, surpassing both Pragg and Firouzja, who can only get as high as 15.
For three points, Pragg must defeat Carlsen in quick chess.
Praggnanandhaa is one of the few players to defeat Carlsen in quick games this year, but he will need to be on his guard against Carlsen’s resilience.
When Carlsen, who was playing while listening to a Norwegian humour podcast, had a poor start, the 17-year-aspirations old’s must have been raised. The champion made a number of strange moves before losing his first game.
Unfortunately for the young man, Duda, who defeated Carlsen on Friday, also handed him a loss.
In game 2, Carlsen made a significant comeback. After two draws, the first of which featured an especially heated exchange, the match reached tiebreaks when Firouzja lost.
With the score even at 1.5-1.5, the dramatic rapid section final game between Carlsen and Firouzja may have determined the winner. Carlsen ultimately prevailed in the playoff, making it irrelevant.
In game 2 of Pragg’s match, the young player was gazing into the distance. He defended like a lion against Duda’s siege while under siege until he discovered the only move to rescue the game (92… Kg6). Pragg won a draw after 1 hour, 7 minutes, and 113 moves.
At this time, Pragg was still down and needed to defeat Duda in the third to have any hope of earning all possible points. To force a tiebreak, he needed to win the decisive game after the match ended in a draw.
Pragg did it in a remarkable way.
Dramatic tie-breaking was used. Pragg made a mistake that allowed Duda to score a mate in one when he was clearly winning the first blitz game. Pragg experienced heartbreak, but he still had an opportunity to recover. But Duda remained steadfast, bringing the day to a close and winning the match.
In the other rounds, it only took Liem Quang Le three games to defeat Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri. With victories in the first two games and a draw in the third, the Vietnamese star sealed a 2.5-0.5 victory. On nine points, he is.
Hans Niemann’s difficulties persisted, and he lost against Levon Aronian 2.5–1.5. Niemann is yet to win a point in this tournament.
The focus now shifts on Sunday, when everyone will be watching Carlsen vs. Pragg in Round 7, which will determine the winner.
(Inputs from IANS)