Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa beat World No. 3 Fabiano Caruana 3.5-2.5 at the FIDE World Cup chess tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Praggnanandhaa, 18, has now become the third youngest player in history, following after Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen, to qualify for the Candidates tournament.
Following a classical series of two games that concluded with a 1-1 draw, the Indian prodigy outsmarted the highly-regarded American GM in an intense tie-breaker.
Praggnanandhaa will now face Norway’s Carlsen in the final.
“I didn’t expect to play Magnus in this tournament at all because the only way I could play him was in the final, and I didn’t expect to be in the final. I will just try to give my best and see how it goes!,” Praggnanandhaa said after booking a spot in the summit clash.
“Pragg goes through to the final! He beats Fabiano Caruana in the tiebreak and will face Magnus Carlsen now. What a performance!,” chess legend Viswanathan Anand posted on ‘X’, formerly Twitter.
Praggnanandhaa has been in a rich vein of form in the World Cup and his biggest scalp before Caruana was another American Hikaru Nakamura, the world No.2 and second-seed, following which he stopped compatriot Arjun Erigaisi.
“Congratulations @rpragchess for winning against Fabiano and going to the finals at the World Cup in 2023! Proud and happy!,” noted chess coach RB Ramesh wrote on ‘X’.
Former women’s world No.1 Susan Polgar also hailed the young Indian GM.
“Congratulations to GM Praggnanandhaa for reaching the 2023 World Cup final to face Magnus! He defeated world #2 Fabiano in the playoff to earn the coveted spot! He also defeated world #3 Hikaru earlier!”
AICF president Sanjay Kapoor said, “Congratulations to Praggnanandhaa @rpragchess on his amazing victory & making it to the FINALS of @FIDE_chess Chess World Cup. Bravo! Indian chess lovers can’t wait for the Final as it promises to be one RED HOT Contest with the World no.1 @MagnusCarlsen on the other side!
“By becoming only the second Indian after Anand to reach the semifinals of the world cup, Praggnanandhaa booked a spot in the Candidates event in 2024 to determine the challenger to Ding Liren.
The top three finishers in the tournament qualify for the Candidates event in 2024 to determine the challenger to current world champion Liren of China.