The Indian chess Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa, who has been on a splendid run of form in the FIDE World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, managed to hold the world number two Fabiano Caruana to a draw in the first classical time-control game of the semi-final on August 19, Saturday. The 18-year-old, who was playing with the black pieces, defended a slightly disadvantageous position, to ensure that his American counterpart didn’t find a way to force a win after 78 pulsating moves.
The first game of the FIDE World Cup semi-final lasted over 4:30 hours, wherein Praggnanandhaa was a pawn down after the 41st move. But then, in a rook and pawn endgame, he kept his king on the right squares, traded the rooks, and took the last pawn, to pass the test against Caruana in a theoretical draw.
The other semi-final first game between one of the best chess players of all-time, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, against the local star from Azerbaijan, Nijat Abasov, was an absolute thriller from start to finish. In the midst of this edge of the seat encounter, Carlsen was in some serious trouble, but when Abasov missed his chance to force a win on the 34th move, his opponent found a way to achieve victory in 43 moves to take the 1-0 lead in the FIDE World Cup final four round.
The second classical time-control game of both the semi-finals will be played in Baku, Azerbaijan, on August 20, Sunday. But on this occasion, R Praggnanandhaa will get the white pieces against Fabiano Caruana, while Magnus Carlsen will have to work with the black pieces against Nijat Abasov.