Oslo: It was two months back that India’s young Grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa caused a sensation in the chess world by beating world champion Magnus Carlsen in the Airthings Masters elite online chess tournament. Pragg, as he is fondly called, gets another chance of doing it again, beating Magnus Carlsen in the fourth round of Oslo Cup, the first off-line event that is part of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour season.
He had defeated Jorden van Foreest and Shakryar Mamedairov in the earlier rounds.
And what gives Praggnanandhaa hopes of repeating his performance against Carlsen is his brilliant form in this event in which he leads the field by winning the third straight match.
India’s 16-year-old superstar-in-the-making is the only player with 9/9 points and has won the maximum USD 22,500 prize so far after crushing Liem Quang Le of Vietnam with a game to spare in the Oslo Cup.
Pragg now faces world champion Carlsen in Round 4. Beat Carlsen, as he did two months ago, and the youngster will be the hot favourite to win the first Major of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, conducted by the Play Magnus Group and has a prize fund of USD1.6 million over nine events with more than 40 world-renowned players taking part.
The teenager was overjoyed with his win against the speed chess specialist Liem, who beat Carlsen on Friday.
Pragg has now played only 9 games to win three matches and has a 3-point cushion over Carlsen on the tournament leaderboard. The boy from Chennai had earlier started with a win over Jorden van Foreest.
Pragg said, “Today it was difficult. In the first game, I was winning and then I played b3 quite quickly and he (Liem) 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 on Tuesday.