Carlsen shows appreciation for Praggnanandhaa: After their eighth round Julius Baer Cup match on Tuesday finished in a draw, World Champion Magnus Carlsen gave R Praggnanandhaa a cheer and a thumbs up.
The match was the latest in a string of confrontations between the two players that has spanned a number of events and settings.
Carlsen is now in the midst of several battles.
While the World Champion has every right to defend his title, he has chosen not to do so for a number of reasons. It is just months after winning a lengthy match against Ian Nepomniachtchi, 7.5-3.5. (the score may seem lopsided, but the battle between the two was anything but).
But last week, Carlsen bowed out of a match for the second time in a row, this time to a 19-year-old Grand Master from the United States named Hans Niemann.
The implication is that the American has either figured out how to cheat in chess without getting discovered or has earned the wrath of his Norwegian opponent due to his checkered history of cheating in online chess tournaments.
This is in addition to the Praggnanandhaa case and the media attention given to the Indian adolescent.
Grandmaster Srinath Narayanan predicts that Praggnanandhaa will be able to compete with Carlsen and the world’s other top players in all tournament formats by 2024–2025.
When facing Carlsen, I think players have a choice between two strategies.
On the one hand, you’re taking on the world champion, so you have extra incentive to do well. “It can create intimidating situations where players perform worse than they typically would,” Srinath told the Indian Express.
“Pragg goes first in his moves.”
Challenges like this are how he’s progressed in chess, so it’s not like this is his first rodeo. When he wasn’t a GM, facing any GM was a formidable challenge.
“As a beginner, he used to lose a lot of games, but he eventually learned to overcome his difficulties. It’s basically the same thing.”
The last three victories for Praggnanandhaa vs Carlsen have all occurred during the last few months. In yesterday’s timed battle, the adolescent from Chennai started out on top and never looked back.
Carlsen played an opening he has previously used against many opponents, including Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi the day before.
But Srikanth argues that this exact opening was not the greatest choice versus Praggnanandhaa, because it gives a clear advantage to the player with white pieces when playing with black. The match went in Praggnanandhaa’s favour after he took the initiative with his first move.
However, the young Indian was unable to make use of this edge.
One thing that bothered me was how slowly Pragg was playing. I think it’s costing him a little bit where he’s making progress but can’t quite close the deal. Likewise, this occurred to Arjun. I thought he might have played faster in the beginning in the beginning of the game,” Srinath remarked.
“A time limit of only 15 minutes can be difficult to work within. Unlike traditional chess, there is a fine balance between playing at a high quality and not losing too much time.
“Overthinking? No, since striking that delicate balance is no easy task,” he continued.
Time constraints likely played a role in the 17-year-old giving up his early game advantage and leading to a stalemate between the Grand Masters.
Magnus clapped for his rival and gave him a thumbs up as time ran out, signaling the end of the match. Later, when asked by Chess24, the Indian GM claimed he hadn’t noticed Magnus’ show of gratitude.
“At the time, I didn’t realize it. I just now took a look at it. What I didn’t know (then). I thought it was a fantastic battle,” Praggnanandhaa told Chess24.
After the match, Praggnanandhaa told Carlsen’s opponent, “He had already played this line against Arjun in the first game,” which revealed the strategy he had used against Carlsen.
The first thing I did this morning was to check it. White has already been totally crushed by the fifth set. I regret not killing him at the time.
To Srinath’s mind, Carlsen’s endgame gesture would do wonders for bolstering Praggnanandhaa’s self-assurance.
At the end of the game, Magnus showed respect and sportsmanship by saying, “I think Magnus truly liked the game.
I imagine that that would have made Pragg happy. His confidence will greatly benefit from returning home with the knowledge that he has routinely faced off against Magnus.