R Praggnanandhaa vs Magnus Carlsen Day 2: Head-to-head records and everything you need to know about World Cup finalists
R Praggnanandhaa and Magnus Carlsen played out a draw in the first classical game of the chess World Cup final.
Indian grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa managed to hold his own against World No.1 and five-time undisputed world champion Magnus Carlsen in the first game of the chess World Cup 2023. The two players shook hands on a stalemate after 35 moves on Tuesday and will now be sitting across the board from each other again on Wednesday in Baku. The 29th-ranked Indian got to the final after beating third-ranked American grandmaster Fabio Caruana 3.5-2.5 in a semifinal decided by a single tiebreak win.
Praggnanandhaa, who turned 18 this month, has pretty much turned heads around the world and pushed chess to the frontpages with his run in the World Cup but he is up against one of the all-time greats in Norwegian Carlsen.
Praggnanandhaa has faced Carlsen 19 times before this. Six of these games ended in a draw while Carlsen won eight of these. Twelve of these contests have happened in rapid and exhibition matches and the Norwegian leads 8-5. Six of those contests have ended in a draw. The two have squared off in a classical chess match once in the past and that contest, too, ended in a draw.
Praggnanandhaa first beat Carlsen in February 2022 at the Airthings Masters - an online rapid chess tournament. He thus became the youngest to beat Carlsen since he became world champion in 2013. The second time he stunned the Norwegian was at the Chessable Masters online rapid chess tournament on May 20. Interestingly, the day Praggnanandhaa and Carlsen faced off in the first game of the World Cup final also marked one year to the day the Indian beat the World No.1 three consecutive games in one day — one rapid and two blitz — at the 2022 FTX Crypto Cup.
What Praggnanandhaa and Carlsen had to say
Carlsen revealed that he had been playing while suffering from a stomach bug, which puts into perspective as to how difficult it is to face him considering the first game ended in a draw. If he is feeling any better today, the Indian GM is in for a tough test. "Normally, I would just probably have a bit of an advantage having a rest day while he had to play a tough tiebreak yesterday, but I've been in a pretty rough shape the last couple of days. I got some poisoning after the game against Abasov. I haven't been able to eat for the last two days. This also meant that I was really calm cause I had no energy to be nervous," reveals Magnus.
Praggnanandhaa was as calm as ever after the game. "I don't think I was in any trouble at all," Praggnanandhaa said after the game. “Yeah, it'll be a fight. I'll surely push very hard. I'll just try to rst today and come back fresh tomorrow. That's the best i can do,” he said.