Norway Chess: Praggnanandhaa loses to Caruana, Carlsen beats Firouzja Alireza

R Vaishali had another loss against Tingjie Lei and was relegated to the 4th spot while Koneru Humpy went down to tournament leader Wenju Ju.


Published Jun 07, 2024 | 4:46 PMUpdatedJun 07, 2024 | 4:46 PM

Praggnanandhaa world cup

Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa went down fighting against Fabiano Caruana of the United States while world number one Magnus Carlsen inflicted an Armageddon defeat on France’s Firouzja Alireza in the penultimate round of the Norway Chess tournament.

With 16 points in his bag, Carlsen stretched his lead to 1.5 points over nearest rival Hikaru Nakamura, who was in for a shock as World Champion Ding Liren, for once, did not blow his position away.

Praggnanandhaa, despite the loss against Caruana in Armageddon, is still third on 13 points, a full point ahead of Alireza. Caruana on 10.5 comes in next in standings ahead of Liren (6), who spoiled Nakamura’s party.

Also Read: Praggnanandhaa stuns Caruana, enters top 10 world ranking

Vaishali faces another loss

In the women’s section, R Vaishali succumbed to another loss at the hands of Tingjie Lei of China and was relegated to the fourth spot while Koneru Humpy went down to tournament leader Wenju Ju of China.

Wenjun Ju of China strengthened her claim for the title by moving to 16 points. Tingjie Lei and Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine follow her 1.5 points behind while Vaishali on 11.5 is a distant fourth ahead of Humpy who is on nine points. Veteran Swede Pia Cramling is last spot with 6.5 points in her kitty.

Vaishali was the only one to go down in the Classical game itself while all the other matches saw an Armageddon battle following a draw in normal games.

The English opening does not sound like a menacing choice but Tingjie took advantage with the slightly favourable colour early in the opening as Vaishali’s pawn structure became a bit dented.

Picking out a pawn on the queenside, the Chinese capitalised on her better-placed rook to invade the seventh rank and it was soon curtains for the Indian in just 28 moves.

Also Read: Praggnanandhaa’s first classical chess win over Magnus Carlsen

Humpy’s game

Humpy had her last chance but could not make most of it as white against Wenjun Ju. The Chinese equalised at ease in the early middle game as black in the Ragozine defence and drew comfortably in the ensuing rook and pawns endgame.

Humpy decided to go all-in in the Armageddon but the plan boomeranged as Wenjun found a tactical skirmish to win a rook in the middle game. The game lasted 41 moves.

In the men’s section, Carlsen was not overjoyed that the Classical game ended in a draw but kept his nerves intact to win the Armageddon while Liren finally had something to smile about as he defeated Nakamura in fine fashion.

Praggnanandhaa did not have to sweat hard to hold Caruana under Classical but in the Armageddon the American was a transformed player as he took advantage of his white pieces.

The Indian has white pieces in the last-round game against Nakamura and will hope to make the most of it.

Results round 9

Men: Fabiano Caruana (USA, 10.5) beat R Praggnanandhaa (Ind, 13) 1.5-1; Firouzja Alireza (Fra, 12) lost to Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 16) 1-1.5; Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 14.5) lost to Ding Liren (Chn, 6.5) 1-1.5.

Women: Koneru Humpy (Ind, 9) lost to Wenjun Ju (Chn, 16) 1.5-1; Tingjie Lei (Chn, 14.5) beat R Vaishali (11.5) 3-0; Pia Crmaling (Swe, 6.5) lost to Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 14.5) 1-1.5.