INDIAN grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa held his own against world number 1 Magnus Carlsen to secure a draw in the first classical game of the final of the FIDE World Cup Chess in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Tuesday (22).
The 18-year-old grandmaster forced a stalemate in 35 moves playing white pieces against a fancied and higher-rated opponent.
In the middle of a major time crunch, Praggnanandhaa was able to hold Carlsen for a draw in an objectively equal position with white pieces. The Indian played a solid game and agreed to a draw on move 35.
“I don’t think I was in any trouble at all,” Praggnanandhaa said after the game.
However, Carlsen will have the advantage of playing white in the second game of the two-match classical series on Wednesday (23).
Praggnanandhaa said later in an interaction posted on the ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) handle of FIDE: “Rb8, I felt I should have done something there. But maybe this position is just solid and I don’t have anything. What I played there was not the best try but I could not find anything.”
About the second game against Carlsen, he said, “It’ll be a fight. He’ll definitely push very hard. I’ll try to rest and come fresh, I think that’s the best I can do.”
Carlsen, who has been under the weather due to food poisoning said that even though he had a break, he wasn’t in best physical shape.
“Normally, I would just probably have a bit of an advantage having a rest day while he had to play a tough tie-break yesterday but I’ve been in a pretty rough shape the last couple of days.
“I got some food poisoning after the game against (Nijat) Abasov. I haven’t been able to eat for the last two days. This also meant that I was really calm because I had no energy to be nervous,” the Norwegian added in jest.
Praggnanandhaa had earlier stormed into the final by shocking world number 3 Fabiano Caruana 3.5-2.5.
The Indian teenager became only the second player from the country to reach the final of the world cup after the legendary Viswanathan Anand and qualified for the Candidates tournament in 2024.