Chess World Cup Praggnanandhaa vs Carlsen: The final match of the FIDE Chess World Cup 2023 between R Pragnanandhaa and Magnus Carlsen is poised for tie-breaks on Thursday. This outcome seems to suit both players, as they settled for a second consecutive draw today. The mutual decision to draw was reached right after move 30, with both sides having traded queens and pairs of rooks by that point.
For Pragnanandhaa, the rapid chess format offers his best chance at outplaying Carlsen. This is especially true considering his previous success against him in this style of play. Notably, Pragnanandhaa has already engaged in three tie-breakers during this tournament. On the other hand, Carlsen benefits from the extended time for recovery due to a recent bout of food poisoning experienced after the semi-final.
The expectation of today’s draw was evident from the outset when Carlsen, playing with the white pieces, opted not to force an aggressive opening move. In response, Pragnanandhaa adopted a solid strategy, ensuring that he didn’t provide any openings for Carlsen to apply pressure.
Reflecting on the first game and carrying that demeanor into Wednesday’s match, Pragnanandhaa expressed his confidence in not being in a precarious situation. His relaxed attitude was palpable from the beginning, evident in his body language and composure. Even his initial move was intentionally delayed, causing Carlsen to wait for his approach. This strategic pause showcased Pragnanandhaa’s positive state of mind.
Post-match, Pragnanandhaa mentioned his initial surprise at Carlsen’s approach but expressed contentment with the draw. He shared, “I didn’t think he would go for a quick draw. I realized quickly he just wanted to make a draw. But I’m fine with that.” Carlsen later explained that his conservative strategy was due to his health. Suffering from food poisoning after the semi-final, Carlsen acknowledged his lack of energy for a prolonged game.
Carlsen stated, “I’m feeling a bit better, very grateful to the organizers, FIDE, and to the doctors and nurses as well yesterday who got me some good treatment.” He added, “I still didn’t feel like I had the energy for a full fight. So, I thought let’s get one more day of rest, and hopefully, I’ll have more strength tomorrow.”
Considering Pragnanandhaa’s chances in the tie-breaks, his live rapid ELO rating stands at 2645, whereas Carlsen holds 2820. Only world champion Ding Liren boasts a higher rapid rating than Carlsen currently, with Pragnanandhaa ranked 67th. Notably, Pragnanandhaa has defeated Carlsen in Rapid play previously. Carlsen was defeated in the 2022 Airthings Masters and FTX Crypto Cup, part of the Champions Chess Tour.
Both contenders have encountered tie-breaks during this tournament. However, Pragnanandhaa’s experiences have been notably strenuous, facing opponents like Hikaru Nakamura, Arjun Erigaisi, and Fabiano Caruana. Carlsen, on the other hand, has only engaged in one tie-break during the tournament, occurring in the fourth round against Germany’s Vincent Kaymer.
Pragnanandhaa acknowledged his readiness for various tie-break scenarios. He commented, “I’ve been playing a lot of tie-breaks. It can take a lot of games or short ones as well, so I have to be ready for everything.” His quarterfinal against Erigaisi required sudden-death blitz games. It showcased his ability to excel under pressure.
Carlsen acknowledged Pragnanandhaa’s strength in tie-breaks and the upcoming challenges, noting, “He [Praggnanandhaa] has already played a lot of tie-breaks against very strong players. I’ve played him a bunch in rapid before, I know he’s very strong.” Carlsen emphasized the importance of having the energy for a demanding match and acknowledged that his chances improve on days he feels energetic.
Pragnanandhaa’s journey to the final has been arduous, culminating in the distance battle of the summit clash, which has taken a toll on his physical stamina. Despite the impending challenge, he maintains a determined stance, expressing, “It’ll be tough, definitely. But I can give everything I have tomorrow, and then relax after that,” as he looks forward to the decisive tie-breaks.