Carlsen calls Pragg ‘mentality monster’, labels another India star ‘strongest’

Indian chess sensation R Praggnanandhaa’s remarkable journey ended with a final defeat as he couldn’t replicate his series of stunning victories in recent days, falling to the favoured Magnus Carlsen by a score of 1.5-0.5 in the tie-breaker of the FIDE World Cup on Thursday. The prodigious Praggnanandhaa’s extraordinary run in the tournament came to an end against the world’s top-ranked player, who only needed the World Cup title to complete an envious trophy cabinet.

Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen poses for a picture with the trophy after clinching the title of the International Chess Federation World Cup 2023 in Baku, on Thursday(International Chess Federation )

The Norwegian maestro Carlsen, who has maintained his reign at the pinnacle of chess for more than a decade, ‘completed’ chess, as he posted on his official X account, adding the World Cup title to his five World Championship titles.

In the final, the two classical games on Tuesday and Wednesday had ended in draws, stretching the final into a tie-break. Following the remarkable win, Carlsen sat with chess24 to talk about his tournament and the final. The Norwegian grandmaster stated that he didn’t face any player in their prime throughout the tournament but made a strong remark on Indian chess player Gukesh D, who was one of the opponents Carlsen defeated en route to the title.

The World No.1 player believes Gukesh is the “strongest” classical chess player at the moment. “It’s funny that I faced zero players in their prime. I played Chuky (Vasyl Ivanchuk) and then I played three youngsters. So, yeah, obviously they are very strong. I felt like I had my best day and game of the event against Gukesh on the first day. Otherwise, that match would’ve been extremely tough. As for the others, they are very strong. Vincent (Keymer) pushed me the hardest, he was one move away from eliminating me, and leaving everything else moot,” Carlsen said.

“They are all very good, Gukesh is clearly the strongest classical player right now. And then, you have Pragg and (Nodirbek) Abdusattorov who are strong but also mentality monsters. And then, I think on a tier slightly below, we have Vincent and a few others. But what I think is pretty clear is that chess is in good hands for the future. The generation of players, born from 1990-1994 really have dominated for a long time, and finally now, with these youngsters born in 2003 and after, we have a generation that’s worthy of succeeding us,” he further stated.

Praggnanandhaa qualifies for Candidates

Praggnanandhaa enjoyed an incredible run in the tournament, having beaten world No.2 Hikaru Nakamura and world No.3 Fabiano Caruana to set up a final date with Carlsen. The results in the ongoing tournament also helped Praggnanandhaa qualify for the Candidates 2024 tournament, which will be held in Canada to determine the challenger to world champion Ding Liren of China.

Praggnanandhaa also became the third youngest player after the legendary Bobby Fischer and Carlsen to qualify for the Candidates tournament.

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