Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa made an impressive comeback on the second day of the Chessable Masters Final against World No 2 Ding Liren, to level proceedings, but eventually lost after a thrilling tiebreaker late on Thursday.
The 16-year-old has had a stellar week in the online tournament, in which he beat reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, then taken an end-of-year 11th grade examination hours after his semi-final win over World No 10 Anish Giri, and eventually reached the clash against the Chinese GM.
Pragg – as he is known in the chess community – trailed in the final after losing 2.5-1.5 to Liren on Day 1 of the first ever all-Asian final at the Champions Chess Tour. But on Thursday, and early into Friday morning, he made a stunning comeback into the final to force the decider.
The duo shared spoils in a 41-move draw to open Day 2 of the final, before Pragg came up with an impressive win in the second match to take the lead. He then held onto a draw in the lengthy 106-move third match – forcing the final into a tiebreak (two blitz games).
It was in the ‘breakers though where Pragg’s comeback came to a heartbreaking end.
He made a the wrong choice in the first game to let Ding rescue a draw, and then blundered for the first time in the day in the second blitz match and was forced to resign.
“I’m definitely upset. I got two winning positions [in the tiebreak blitz matches]... I couldn’t even win one. First one I should have won. The second one I had a very good position and very good attack. I don’t know where I misread it,” he said after the match, late in the night from his Chennai residence.
“I’m definitely exhausted. But it’s a good match, an interesting one. I’m happy with my play overall, in Rapid. It’s a good result for me overall, it’s fine if I finished second. Very good thing.”
As the runner-up he pocketed a cool $15,000 in prize money, plus an additional $6,250 in bonuses.
But there were many more positives he took away from the tournament.
“I’m happy about (getting back in the final). To win like that against such a strong player, to convert that position, I’m very happy. It’s his style to convert such positions, but to do it against him felt nice,” he added.
For his part, Liren was magnificent on defence when put under pressure by Pragg and he showed his experience at the end, even though he admitted to being exhausted (even later in the night for him in China). The world No 2 said he was thoroughly impressed by Pragg, showing experience beyond his age and confidence in his own abilities to read the situations.
You can watch replay of the final day’s events here (the interviews at the end of the full video):