R Praggnanandhaa, the Indian chess grandmaster, earned a draw against the world number one Magnus Carlsen in the first classical time-control game in the final of the FIDE W orld Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, on August 22, Tuesday. The 18-year-old, who was playing with the white pieces, created an advantageous position early on, which led to his Norwegian counterpart finding a way to equalise after 35 moves on the chess board.
On the road to the championship match, R Praggnanandhaa defeated the likes of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, his fellow Indian teammate Arjun Erigaisi, the world number three Hikaru Nakamura, and the world number two Fabiano Caruana. He has a decent overall record against Carlsen, winning 5 and losing 8 out of 19 matches in all the time formats.
The first game of the FIDE World Cup final began with the King’s English variation, which moved to a Four Knights variation, leading to the Fianchetto Line. On the 16th move, Carlsen made a crucial decision to trade his flank pawn on the A-file to simplify the position.
After Praggnanadhaa traded queens in on the move 18th to get into the endgame, he was put under pressure by the multi-time world champion with a series of precise moves. The doubled rook and knight endgame was a slow burner which ended after a pair of rooks were traded off.
The second classical time-control game of the FIDE World Cup final will be played on August 23, Wednesday, in Baku, Azerbaijan. But on this occasion, Magnus Carlsen will have the white pieces against R Praggnanandhaa to push for the championship win.