Last night as he beat American Grandmaster (GM) Fabiano Caruana – the only undefeated player in the FIDE World Cup – Indian Grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa became the youngest player to have ever reached the finals of the tournament.
The young prodigy’s performance in Baku, Azerbaijan, was nothing short of remarkable. He convincingly defeated Caruana with a score of 3.5-2.5 in an intense tie-breaker, showcasing nerves of steel. He will now face-off with Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World No. 1 and a five-time champion hailing from Norway.
The young Indian, who turned 18 just 12 days ago and currently ranks World No. 23, beat American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura earlier this month to set up the clash with Caruana.
Over a year has passed since Praggnanandhaa sent shockwaves through the chess community by beating Carlsen in an online elite rapid chess tournament.
This victory raised the hopes of a new challenger who could take on the Norwegian, who became a sensation in 2013 by claiming the world championship title.
As the pieces are set, and the players take their places, we find ourselves once again drawn into the magnetic allure of witnessing greatness unfurl in real-time.
Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand took to X (formerly Twitter) to congratulate Praggnanandhaa, dubbed Pragg.
“Pragg goes through to the final! He beats Fabiano Caruana in the tiebreak and will face Magnus Carlsen now. What a performance!” Anand wrote.
Pragg goes through to the final! He beats Fabiano Caruana in the tiebreak and will face Magnus Carlsen now.
Praggnanandhaa, hailing from Chennai, had been the underdog for quite long. His steady ascent looked overshadowed when juxtaposed with the more flamboyant streaks of fellow Indians Arjun Erigaisi and D Gukesh.
Last August, Caruana was asked about the young Indian chess players that had been making a lot of noise, especially Erigaisi, Gukesh, and Praggnanandhaa.
Caruana was all praises for Erigaisi and Gukesh, rating them highly and sharing his desire to watch them play. For Praggnanandhaa, however, Caruana said: “I won’t say he is a top player, but he might be someday soon.”
Caruana’s error in judgment came early, the same way it did in last night’s semi-final, as Praggnanandhaa showed the world just how far he had come in the span of 12 months.
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