R Praggnanandhaa made it through to the semifinal of the FIDE Chess World Cup 2023 after a topsy-turvy tie-break round against fellow Indian Arjun Erigaisi was decided after seven games.
Praggnanandhaa forced the tie-break yesterday after winning on demand with black pieces, following Erigaisi’s win with the black in the first match of the classical round. On Thursday, the two players drew the first two matches in the rapid round, before a roller-coaster ride began, lasting the next four games.
Each player traded wins with black pieces in the ten-minute and five-minute rapid games, which means the tie went down to the three-minute blitz match, with the first winner going through. Praggnanandhaa began the three-minute round with the white pieces, and controlled the position from the off, before forcing Erigaisi to resign.
A very exciting quarterfinal match between Praggnanandhaa and Arjun Erigaisi finally concludes, after 7 tiebreak games, with Praggnanandhaa emerging as the winner and moving on to face Fabiano Caruana in the semifinals. #FIDEWorldCup
📷 Stev Bonhage pic.twitter.com/DBPGbPSyBa
– International Chess Federation (@FIDE_chess) August 17, 2023
The top three finishers at this tournament qualify directly for the Candidates event in 2024 to determine the challenger to current world champion Ding Liren of China.
However, five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen yesterday said that he would not be taking part in the Candidates event in its current format, so that means the other three semifinalists will qualify. If Carlsen does indeed skip the Candidates event, should he qualify, Praggnanandhaa will become the second Indian to take part in it after Viswanathan Anand.
Four Indians had made it through to the quarterfinals, but after D Gukesh and Vidit Gujrathi were eliminated yesterday by Carlsen and Nijat Abasov respectively. Praggnanandhaa remains the only Indian in the fray, with a semifinal against Fabiano Caruana awaiting him, starting Saturday.
The current live ratings have Caruana in second place, with an ELO rating of 2792 in the classical format, while Praggnanandhaa is 22nd with an ELO rating of 2721. However, the Indian has beaten some much more fancied opponents so far, not least Hikaru Nakamura, so even though he begins his semifinal as an underdog based on ratings, that match against Caruana is far from a foregone conclusion.