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‘Pragg defended well’: Magnus Carlsen after needing Armageddon to defeat Praggnanandhaa

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After fireworks in their previous game at Norway Chess, the second clash between Praggnanandhaa and Magnus Carlsen idled into a draw on Tuesday with the Norwegian grandmaster winning the Armageddon clash to claim the additional half point.

Five-time world champion Carlsen will go into the second rest day of the tournament with a full point lead over Hikaru Nakamura, who squandered a winning position against Alireza Firouzja in the classical game before resigning in their Armageddon battle.

Firouzja was staring down the barrel at one stage but as GM David Howell pointed out on Chess dot com’s live broadcast, he found 20 consecutive top moves (moves that the engine suggests are the best moves), including a few “only” moves, just after crossing the time control where his time had withered down to just a minute with 10 seconds being added with each move. Thanks to his resolute defending in the classical game, Firouzja held on for a draw.

Norway Chess: The second clash between Praggnanandhaa and Magnus Carlsen idled into a draw Norway Chess: R Praggnanandhaa went down fighting against top seed Magnus Carlsen of Norway. (Credits: Norway Chess / Stev Bonhage)

At some point, Carlsen on the adjoining board seemed under pressure to push Pragg for a result in the classical game as it seemed apparent that Nakamura, who has been on the five-time world champion’s heels in the standings would win.

“I didn’t get anything out of the classical game. I think I was slightly better. Pragg defended well. I was hoping to get at least a sniff of something but there it was not to be. The Armageddon game was pretty mediocre but I managed to grind it out and that half point could be absolutely important,” Carlsen admitted after winning his Armageddon clash.

Festive offer

“I was always up on time and even though the position was fairly even I was always optimistic. I have two difficult games to go, but I’m in the lead regardless. So it’s not looking too bad. The two other games today were extremely interesting. Would have loved for Ding to get a win but I think now for him every draw is something.”

While Nakamura, who visited the confessional booth as many as five times during his game against Firouzja, collapsed he praised Carlsen for his tenacity.

“As I have said before, great champions in sport, not necessarily in chess, have a way of getting it done in the critical moments! I think back to Carlsen playing against Fabiano Caruana in the World Championship, being one loss away from no longer being the world champion or his game against Fabi here at Norway Chess which sparked his rally. He just has a way of getting it done. ”

Praggnanandhaa now has 12 points after eight rounds, with clashes coming up against Caruana on Friday and Nakamura in the final round on Saturday.

Vaishali stays in chase

Over in the women’s Norway Chess, world champion Ju Wenjun is in the lead of the standings after defeating the 61-year-old veteran Pia Cramling of Sweden.

Wenjun’s compatriot, Lei Tingjie also had an outright win in the classical round on Tuesday.

Vaishali — who made her first appearance in the confessional booth at coaxing from her brother — is third in the standings three whole points behind Wenjun. But since outright wins in the classical format give you three points, the 22-year-old Indian could still overhaul that target in the last two games.

She was leading the standings at one point of the tournament but ended up suffering two classical losses in a row.





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