India’s rising star R Praggnanandhaa showed immense skill and determination as he faced off against reigning champion Magnus Carlsen in the first game of the World Cup final. Both players engaged in a fierce battle, with Praggnanandhaa successfully defending against Carlsen’s attacks. Despite their best efforts, neither player could secure a victory, resulting in a hard-fought draw after 35 moves.

The second game of the World Cup final will take place in Baku, where Carlsen will have the advantage of playing as White. This highly anticipated match will undoubtedly showcase the strategic brilliance of both players.

Praggnanandhaa’s journey to the final has been nothing short of extraordinary. At just 18 years old, he defeated the 31-year-old American-Italian Fabiano Caruana in the semifinals, making history as the youngest-ever chess player to reach the finals of the FIDE World Cup 2023.

Throughout the tournament, Praggnanandhaa showcased his exceptional skills by defeating world number 2 Hikaru Nakamura and world number 3 Fabiano Caruana. If he were to win the World Cup, he would become the first Indian player to achieve this feat since the legendary Viswanathan Anand.

In the first game against Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa dominated with the White pieces, resulting in Carlsen spending more than 15 minutes contemplating his next move. However, both players demonstrated their resilience, leading to a draw.

Reflecting on the game, Praggnanandhaa admitted that he could not find a winning opportunity, stating, “What I played there was not the best try, but I could not find anything.” He understands the challenges that lie ahead in the next game, acknowledging that Carlsen will push hard for a victory.

Regardless of the outcome of the final, Praggnanandhaa has already secured a coveted spot in the Candidates tournament in 2024. This remarkable achievement highlights his immense talent and potential in the world of chess.

As the World Cup final enters its second game, fans around the globe eagerly anticipate the clash between Praggnanandhaa and Carlsen. Only time will tell who will emerge victorious in this ultimate battle of chess supremacy.

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