Praggnanandhaa makes Chessable Masters final | Chess News

CHENNAI: R Praggnanandhaa made it to his first Meltwater Champions Chess Tour final in sensational style. The 16-year-old displayed tremendous skillset and tenacity to defeat Anish Giri in the Chessable Masters semifinal. Anish had gone into the match unbeaten and in red-hot form having topped the $150,000 event’s Prelim stage leaderboard. But the 29-year-old ran into one of the world’s top talents truly coming of age.
Praggu’s splendid performance set up a mouth-watering clash with the new world no.2 Ding Liren who also pulled off a shock to down the world no.1 and Tour leader Magnus Carlsen. Incredibly, schoolboy Praggu has something equally important to do first on Wednesday morning — to write his Class XI exams. “I have to be at school around 8:45am,” he said. “And now it’s 2am!”
The semi-final delivered incredible drama as the four top players from the Prelim stage, all on top form, made it through the quarter-finals yesterday and went into battle in the semis. Praggu’s match with Giri caught fire in the second game after a tame first encounter ended in a draw.
The youngster set Giri a deadly trap in the endgame and the 29-year-old missed the only defence. Checkmate was guaranteed and Pragg took the lead. Giri had lost his first game of the tournament.
The third game was another cracker. With Giri needing a win, the advantage switched several times. As Giri looked set to break through in the endgame, Praggu found a way to dig in and force a draw. The youngster was 2-1 in front with one game to go. An astonishingly tricky game followed that let Giri back in. Praggu defended brilliantly but one slip when the position was on a knife-edge and Giri was onto it. The game ended with a beautiful checkmate on the board and the match locked at 2-2 and heading to tiebreaks.
Then it all went wrong for Giri. He blundered badly in the first blitz game of the play-off with 32. Qc2, handing Praggu’s double attack that led to a piece capture. Giri resigned in a hopeless position and looked despondent. But the Dutchman wasn’t out yet. The second blitz game saw Giri on top before another slip gifted Praggu a pawn. There was no way back. A draw was agreed, but it was the same as a win for Pragg who was through.
In contrast, Carlsen vs Ding was a match of extreme, slow-burning pressure. To add to the intensity, Carlsen found himself plagued early on by internet connection problems at his base for this event in Skagen, Denmark. After three tense draws where both players probed but couldn’t crack their opponents’ defences, it all came down to the fourth and final game.
And then, a moment no-one expected: Carlsen cracked. Ding broke through and went on to win.
Immediately afterwards, Carlsen said: “I’m ok. I’m really disappointed with my play in the last game, but I think overall this match could have gone either way. I’ve played a lot of close matches with Ding and this one went his way which is disappointing but, yeah, that’s what it is.”
A triumphant Ding, playing from Wengzhou in China, said he was “very happy” and the result was “unbelievable”.
Ding added: “I’ve played him so many times and I haven’t beaten him in any of the knockout stage in the Champions Chess Tour. It’s my first time.” The two-day final of the Chessable Masters starts on Wednesday night.

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