Oslo: April 28 (IANS) Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa will battle World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen for the Oslo Esports Cup title after losing their penultimate round match in the rapid chess tournament on Wednesday night. Three points ahead earlier In the penultimate round of the $210,000 event, 16-year-old Pragg suffered a painful loss to Poland’s World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
It gave world champion Carlsen a golden opportunity to tie the youngster on points and overtake him on the leaderboard due to his head-to-head score.
Carlsen, as always, seized the opportunity with both hands as he defeated the lowest ranked player on the field, Eric Hansen of Canada. The Norwegian is now the overwhelming favorite to win the first Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Major of the season.
Duda is not out of the game either, sitting just one point behind in the leaderboard. However, the Pole needs a 3-point win against Hansen and losses for both Carlsen and Pragg.
Meanwhile, Carlsen takes on the dangerous Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in round 7, while Pragg takes on Anish Giri.
For Pragg, it was not as comfortable a day as he had hoped. Game 1 started unconventionally when Duda played an English opening with 6.e3 and then the ultra-rare 9.b3.
Duda was allowed to advance a pawn on the f file to the seventh rank and the outcome was inevitable. Pragg resigned on move 65, according to a report from the organizers. In game two, the 16-year-old from Chennai overextended himself with 24.c6 and from there Duda was ruthless. Pragg shook his head as he resigned in an impossible position on move 37.
It left the youngster with an uphill struggle needing to win the remaining two games just to get him to the tiebreaks.
It was not to be, as the third game ended in a draw after the queens were out. The match ended 2.5-0.5 in favor of Duda.
Asked if he can win the tournament, Pragg said, “I just want to play better chess and then we’ll see.” So far, both matches had ended in three games and the third was no different as Liem Quang Le thrashed new Play Magnus Group ambassador, Dutch number 1 Anish Giri 2.5-0.5.
The last game to finish was ³which went into a fourth game in which the Azerbaijani needed to win to reach the tie break, which he won the first 2-0.