Updated June 6th, 2024 at 13:54 IST

Tall order for R Praggnanandhaa as he takes on Fabiano Caruana in Norway Chess penultimate round

Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa will take on Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the ninth and penultimate round of Norway chess tournament.

R Praggnanandhaa during a chess match | Image: PTI
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Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa will take on Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the ninth and penultimate round of Norway chess tournament now underway here.

It's been an event of ups and downs for the Indian super-talent as he won two games under Classical and two matches under Armageddon to reach the third spot with just two rounds to come.

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The highlight has been his two victories in Classical over world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway and No. 2 Caruana earlier in the tournament and the downside has been three losses under Armageddon.

Carlsen, on 14.5 points, leads the fray with three victories in the Classical and he is followed by American Hikaru Nakamura who is a full point behind. Praggnanandhaa, on 12 points, is third in the standings ahead of Firouzja Alireza of France who has 11 points. Caruana, on nine points, is the next in standings ahead of World champion Ding Liren of China, who seems poised to finish last.

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While it looks like a direct contest between Carlsen and Nakamura for the top spot, Praggnanandhaa would like to hold on to his new status of world No. 10 that he achieved with some handy rating gains thus far.

In the final round, post his game against Caruana, Praggnanandhaa is set to meet Nakamura and two draws will likely attest his place in the top-10 world rankings.

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Carlsen has to meet Alireza in the next round followed by Caruana in the finale, and the only person who can overtake him is Nakamura who still has a terribly off-form Ding Liren of China in the next round as white.

In the women's section. Wenjun Ju is ahead on 14.5 points and has a 1.5 points lead over Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine. R Vaishali and Tingjie Lei of China share the third spot on 11.5 points apiece. Koneru Humpy is a distant fifth on 8.5, having a 2.5 points lead over last placed Pia Cramling of Sweden.

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In the penultimate round, Vaishali will take on Lei as black, while Humpy has the white pieces against Ju. Muzychuk meets veteran Cramling who has done decently being 61 years.

Things are unlikely to change much in this section unless Humpy can find her magical touch and beat Wenjun in the $1,61,000 prize-money event.

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Pairings (Round 9): Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 9) vs R Praggnanandhaa (Ind, 12); Firouzja Alireza (Fra, 11) vs Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 14.5); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 13.4) vs Ding Liren (Chn, 4.5).

Women: Tingjie Lei (Chn, 11.5) vs R Vaishali (Ind, 11.5); Koneru Humpy (Ind, 8) vs Wenjun Ju (Chn, 14.5); Pia Cramling (Swe, 5.5) vs Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 13). 

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Published June 6th, 2024 at 13:54 IST