India’s Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, on Monday, made his way into the final of the ongoing 2023 Chess World Cup in Baku following a 3.5-2.5 win over world No 3 Fabiano Caruana in the semi-final tiebreaks.
Earlier, the duo had played out draws in the classical section on Saturday and Sunday.
The tiebreaks started off in an uneventful fashion with both the 25-minute games ending in draws. The 18-year-old Indian was rather fortnuate in the first of those games as Caruana squandered a winning position to settle for a draw.
The third game of the tiebreak with a shorter timecontrol (10 mins) is where Praggnanandhaa struck.
Playing with the white pieces, the Chennai-lad landed in a pawn up position in the 21st move and then never let go of that advantage. The youngster kept pushing and managed to force a resignation out of the American 63 moves into the contest.
With just a draw needed while playing with the black pieces in the next game, Praggnanandhaa once again had Caruana under pressure. Though the 31-year-old managed to get himself out of trouble, he never really had any winning chances before the duo shook hands after 83 moves.
With that draw, Praggnanandhaa became only the first Indian since former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in 2002 to qualify for the FIDE World Cup Final. He also secured his berth for the 2024 Candidates tournament, the winner of which will challenge China’s Ding Liren for the World Championships title.
Having defeated Caruana, and world No 2 Hikauru Nakamura enroute his run to the final, Praggnanandhaa will now face world No 1 and former world champion Magnus Carlsen for the title in Baku.
“I didn’t expect to play Carlsen at all in this tournament. The only way I could play him was in the final and I never expected to make it so far,” Praggnanandhaa told FIDE after his win.