Chessable Masters: Piece of work


Chennai, May 25

Young Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa became the first Indian player to reach the final of the Chessable Masters tournament after he held his nerve to outwit Dutch GM Anish Giri 3.5-2.5 in the wee hours on Wednesday.

The Indian defeated Giri, the highly-rated Dutchman, by pipping him in the tie-break after the four-game rapid online semifinal match had ended in a 2-2 draw. For the top prize, Praggnanandhaa will take on world No. 2 Ding Liren of China, who shocked world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen 2.5-1.5 in the other semifinal.

The opening game of the semifinal ended in a tame draw before the 16-year-old Praggnanandhaa pulled off a win in the second to hand Giri his first defeat of the tournament.

In the third game, the experienced Dutchman looked to have seized the upper hand but Praggu, as he is known in the chess circles, fought hard to force a draw to go 2-1 up.

Staring defeat in the face, Giri hit back to win the fourth game to send the clash into the tie-break.

Thrilling tie-break

Playing with white, the Dutchman faltered in the first blitz game and surrendered it in 33 moves in an Italian Opening encounter. Giri blundered on the 32nd move, which left his queen and knight in the line of fire from Praggnanandhaa’s bishop. To his credit, Praggnanandhaa found the correct move despite being under time pressure and captured Giri’s queen, and Giri resigned a move after that.

Playing the second blitz tie-breaker with white, Praggnanandhaa capitalised on an error by Giri on the 36th move. Following this, Praggnanandhaa’s A file pawn, it became clear, could not be stopped from romping down the board. Giri offered a draw and Praggnanandhaa accepted it.

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