Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa is “having fun” after recording a third straight match-win today to continue his perfect start to the elite Oslo Esports Cup. India’s 16-year-old superstar-in-the-making is the only player with 9/9 points and has won the maximum $22,500 so far after he crushed Liem Quang Le with a game to spare. Pragg now faces World Champion Magnus Carlsen in Round 4. Beat Carlsen, as he did two months ago, and the youngster will be the hot favorite to win the first Major of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour season. That would be a huge shock, regardless of Pragg’s immense undoubted talent. As Grandmaster David Howell said: “Imagine if he beats Magnus, that would be the biggest sensation we’ve seen on the Tour!” More: Oslo cup participants / Live games / Round 1 / Round 2 / Round 3
The teenager was overjoyed with his win against the speed chess specialist Liem, who beat Carlsen yesterday. Pragg has now played only 9 games to win three matches and has a 3-point cushion ahead of Carlsen on the tournament leaderboard. The boy from Chennai’s event could not have gone better up to this point. Pragg said: “Today it was difficult. In the first game, I was winning and then I played b3 quite quickly and he got counter-play. In the second game it was very complicated and in time-trouble I didn’t know what was happening.” He added: “In the last game definitely I didn’t play so well but in time trouble he definitely made some mistakes.” “When you win of course you have a lot of fun! In general I’m having a lot of fun playing these players… It’s always a very good experience.”
Carlsen, meanwhile, has complained of feeling under the weather during this event. He looked ill again going into his Round 3 match against his old rival Anish Giri. But on the board the world No.1 was in fine fettle as he got back in the groove after his loss to Liem with a smooth 2.5-0.5 win over Giri. There were no moments of concern for the champ who needs to beat Pragg tomorrow.
Poland’s World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda picked up his second match-win in a row with a dominant 2.5-0.5 win over the Dutchman Jorden van Foreest. In the final match to finish, the “ChessBrah” streamer Eric Hansen, by far the lowest-ranked player in the event at world No. 237, stunned world No.10 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The 29-year-old Canadian took the first game before Mamedyarov hit back but then Hansen dominated his Azeri opponent and then overcame some final-game nerves to pick up his first $7,500 match-win pay packet and 3 points.