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Praggnanandhaa shines in Oslo Esports Chess Cup R2

Teen sensation Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa leads the Oslo Esports Cup after a stunning win over world number 10 Shakrhiyar Mamedyarov. The 16-year-old from Chennai blew away the oldest player in the field with two game wins to take the Round 2 match 2.5 to 0.5. It followed up Pragg’s impressive Round 1 match win over Jorden van Foreest and leaves him out in front as the only player with the maximum 6 tournament points.  Oslo cup participants / Live games / Round 1 / Round 2

“He basically beat Shakhriyar with his own trademark attacking style… wonderful game by Pragg!” Grandmaster Peter Leko enthused after the pair’s first encounter. Having recorded his second clean victory in leg 3 of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, Pragg picked up another 3-point haul and prize of $7,500. The youngster is fast becoming a real force. Pragg said afterwards that he “definitely didn’t expect a win like this” while Mamedyarov said the India “deserved it, he played better”.

While Pragg was on fire, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was far from his best as he crashed to a 2.5-1.5 loss against Airthings Masters finalist Liem Quang Le. The Norwegian was late into the arena after playing in a benefit match for Ukraine and then appeared to fall to pieces against Vietnam’s speed chess specialist. At one point in the first game, Carlsen even appeared to nod off – or at least rest his eyes – before rousing himself to make a move. Carlsen’s weariness was apparent in his play too. A series of small mistakes in game 1 led to the champion walking into a knight-fork and with 39.Qe4 he suffered a horror mouse-slip which lost the game on the spot. It was all very uncharacteristic for the champ and he was 1-0 down.

The second game started with Carlsen again late to the board. Liem was left waiting after playing 1.d4. A slower, solid game ended in a draw and Liem still in the lead. It ramped up the pressure on Carlsen who now had no margin for error in the four-game match. But Carlsen is never easily beaten and bounced back in style to take the third. Carlsen and Liem were level-pegging going into the final game of the match with tiebreaks looming if neither player could make the breakthrough.

The crucial game did not disappoint. Grandmaster David Howell said it was “chaos from start to finish” before Liem broke through in the endgame to take the 3 points in dramatic fashion. Carlsen gave a thumbs up to say well played to his opponent. “It’s been a struggle,” he said leaving the arena.

A clearly overjoyed Liem said: “It means a lot to me. I believe this is the first time I’ve really beaten him in a game and also in a match and I think not too many people can manage to beat Magnus in a match.” He added: “It gives me a lot of joy, and fun and motivation to do better in the rest of the tournament.”

The Dutchman Jorden van Foreest also showed off his creativity with an impressive win over Eric Hansen that included a magical move that caught the eye in game 2. Van Foreest played a move that looked like a mouse-slip: 12.Kd2, intending to castle his king by hand with 3.Kc2 and 14.Kb1. But this was no mistake. The 22-year-old had realised he had time to pull off the manoeuvre and it eventually led to a winning position. GM Leko suggested it could be “the novelty of the year!”

But in game 3 Van Foreest took his eye off the ball and a 360 turnaround saw Hansen pull of an unlikely win to give him hope going into the final game. Still ahead, Van Foreest only need a draw though and secured it with a composed defence to take the 3 points. The last match to finish was the encounter between the Polish No.1 Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Dutch No.1 Anish Giri which became the first of the tournament to go to tiebreaks after it finished 2-2 following four close draws.

Duda eventually forced the match win with victory in the both the blitz games to take a split 2-point win with Giri salvaging 1 point.

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