Norway Chess: Praggnanandhaa stuns Caruana, enters top 10 world ranking

Praggnanandhaa played out a Carlsenque endgame to grind down Caruana.
Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa.
Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa.(File photo | PTI)

STAVANGER: Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa scored a massive, hard-earned victory over world number two Fabiano Caruana of the United States and made his way to the top 10 of world rankings after the end of fifth round of Norway Chess tournament here.

Hikaru Nakamura of the United States got the better of off-colour world champion Ding Liren of China to stretch his lead to a full point over Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

With 10 points in his bag, Nakamura has a full point lead over Carlsen at the half way stage of this USD 161000 prize money tournament.

Carlsen outwitted Firouzja Alireza of France from a drawn rook and pawns endgame. With five rounds still to come, the world number one is followed by Praggnanandhaa on 8.5 points while a distant fourth now is Alireza who remained on 6.5 following his loss. Caruana on five is in fifth spot while Ding Liren is clearly not enjoying the event with just 2.5 points to his credit.

In the women's event being held simultaneously, R Vaishali continued her dream run and defeated Tingkie Lei of China in the Armageddon game to keep her lead on 10 points.

Anna Muzychuk is the closest to the Indian and is a full point behind after defeating Pia Cramling of Sweden in the Classical game. Women's world champion Wenjun Ju is third on 7.5 after scoring her fifth straight victory in the Armageddon over Koneru Humpy.

Lei stands fourth on six points, two points clear of Humpy who seems to be struggling at the half-way mark.

Cramling with three points is at the bottom of the tables.

Praggnanandhaa played out a Carlsenque endgame to grind down Caruana.

The Catalan opening by the Indian saw exchange of pieces at regular intervals and the players reached a rook and knight endgame before the 40th move itself.

The same side pawns even with an extra pawn is known to be a theoretical draw but Praggnanadhaa kept playing till Caruana collapsed on his 66th move and blundered his last pawn.

It took 11 more moves for Praggnanandhaa to convert into a full point.

Carlsen had a similar outing and his was even easier draw that Alireza missed in the rook and pawns endgame.

Carlsen had to wait for as many as 77 moves for Alireza to make a serious mistake and five moves later, the world number one had cruised to another victory from an equal endgame.

In the women's section, Vaishali played out a draw under the Classical time control with Tingjie Lei and in another drawn endgame of the day, outplayed the Chinese in the ensuing knight and pawns endgame.

This was Vaishali's second win under Armageddon in the tournament along with two wins in Classical.

Her lone loss came against Wenjun Ju in the first round.

It was a day that will be attributed to blunders from almost level endgames.

Koneru Humpy was the other player on the receiving end as she could not find the best defensive path in a rook and pawns endgame against Ju in the Armageddon.

Though just a pawn less, Humpy missed a slightly tricky defense towards the final stages but instead ended up losing a rook with the clock ticking away.

Results round 5 men: R Praggnanandhaa (Ind, 8.5) beat Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 5); Ding Liren (Chn, 2.5) lost to Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 10); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 9) beat Firouzja Alireza (Fra, 6.5).

Women: R Vaishali (Ind, 10) beat Tingjie Lei (Chn, 6); Wenjun Ju (Chn, 7.

5) beat Koneru Humpy (Ind, 4); Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 9) beat Pia Cramling (Swe, 3).

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