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FTX Crypto Cup | Praggnanandhaa beats Anish Giri, notches up second straight win

Young Indian Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa. File

Young Indian Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa. File | Photo Credit: Velankanni Raj

Gaining confidence with every game, R. Praggnanandhaa nailed Anish Giri (Netherlands) 2.5-1.5 with black pieces to stay with Magnus Carlsen (Norway) in the lead at six points after two rounds of the $210,000 FTX Crypto Cup rapid chess tournament in Miami on Tuesday.

After the first three games ended in draws, Praggnanandhaa won the fourth to leave Anish stranded at the point of no return in their best-of-four-game clash.

Battle of teens

With each victory over the four rapid games worth $7500, Praggnanandhaa has already ensured $15,000. On Monday, Praggnanandhaa won the battle of teenagers against World No. 4 Alireza Firouzja (France).

Carlsen kept pace with the young Indian after beating Hans Nieman (USA) 3-1 despite losing the opening game.

In the other two matches, Firouzja made short work of Le Quang Liam (Vietnam) 2.5-0.5 and Levon Aronian (USA) needed the Armageddon game to stop Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) 3.5-2.5.

In the limelight

For the second straight day, Praggnanandhaa’s play caught everyone’s attention.

The first game, where Praggnanandhaa played white and had his share of worries, ended in 46 moves and the second, following a repetition of moves, in 34.

In the third, Praggnanandhaa could have seized the initiative by finding the moves of optimum strength to gain a decisive advantage.

But the youngster missed those not-easy-to-find winning continuations and the game eventually ended with just the kings on the board, in 69 moves.

What followed was the tie-deciding encounter where Praggnanandhaa looked better from the 21st move. The exchange of queens and rooks followed and Praggnanandhaa established a menacing ‘passed’ pawn on one of the central files.

Advantage swings

With the advantage swinging in favour of the teenager, Anish gave up a rook for a knight in order to eliminate Praggnanandhaa’s pawn from the seventh rank. Thereafter, Praggnanandhaa tightened his grip with some fine knight-and-rook play and advanced the lone kingside pawn on the board to the sixth rank.

Anish saw no way of stopping the pawn without losing his bishop and resigned on the 81st turn.

Third-round line-up: Nieman-Praggnanandhaa, Aronian-Carlsen; Anish-Firouzja and Liem-Duda.

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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 11:11:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/ftx-crypto-cup-praggnanandhaa-beats-anish-giri-notches-up-second-straight-win/article65778103.ece