A frantic end to the Charity Cup’s Prelim stage saw Indian teen Praggnanandhaa narrowly miss out on a place in the knockout as Magnus Carlsen and Liem Quang Le sailed through. Pragg, the wonderkid from Chennai, had put himself in pole position to qualify with a stunning penultimate round win over World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda. More about Charity Cup: Charity Cup 2022 participants and preview / Charity Cup 2022 live / Charity Cup 2022 video) Round reports: Hans Niemann and Liem Quang Le lead after Day 1 / Le Quang Liem is sole leader after Day 2 / Carlsen closer to the top in Day 3 / Le Quang Liem wins the Prelims Day 4
But the 16-year-old still needed a final-round result against Spanish ace David Anton, who was also in the hunt, and crumbled when it mattered most. Pragg had been bossing the game before he weakened his king at the wrong moment and the advantage slipped. Anton took control and fended off all Pragg’s tricks to close out the win. It was so close for the youngster, but it was not to be. Pragg losing meant Anton and the Czech No.1 David Navara squeezed through by the tightest of margins at the expense of Richard Rapport.
Elsewhere, the Dutchman Jorden Van Foreest continued his impressive form to finish third on the leaderboard while Duda, the Chinese No.1 Ding Liren and the American teen Hans Niemann all secured their places.
Carlsen’s attempt to overhaul the overnight leader Liem ultimately failed but he said he was “reasonably satisfied” with his performance over the 15 rounds of the Prelim. Carlsen had been furious with himself for throwing away a first game win against the speed specialist from Vietnam who dominated the Prelim from day 1. Carlsen then took put all his frustration in the battle of the world champions as the Norwegian simply blew away the women’s title-holder Ju Wenjun. Peter Leko, commentating for chess24.com, called it a “masterpiece”.
Another game that caught the eye was Pragg’s Round 14 win over Duda. Grandmaster David Howell in the commentary box had his hands on his head as Pragg played the brilliant 25.Rxa7.
“What a move!” Howell said. “He’s too good for this age. What a player, Praggnanandhaa.”
He added: “That rook move, I think if I had half an hour, I don’t think I would have even considered it.”
The Canadian streamer Eric Hansen was on the brink of beating Duda but suffered the heartbreak of a one-move blunder that lost a queen for a rook on the spot. The defeat crushed his chances of making the last eight.
The event is supported by NEAR Foundation and is being held as a fundraiser for UNICEF.
The quarter-finals start tomorrow with Carlsen facing Niemann and Liem vs Navara. Tune in at 17:00 UTC / 18:00 CET for day 5 of the Charity Cup.