In the second round of the Meltwater Champions Tour Finals on Wednesday, young Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa lost to Dutch GM Anish Giri 2.5-3.5. Arjun Erigaisi, the other Indian competing in the prestigious tournament, was defeated 2.5 to 0.5 by world number one Magnus Carlsen.
When Praggnanandhaa let his opponent off the hook, he was in excellent form, winning the first two games to gain a commanding lead. The Indian GM won the first game in 33 moves, exhausted the Dutchman in the second, and appeared to be headed for an easy victory.
The 28-year-old Giri battled back, winning games three and four to force a tie-break. In order to deflate Pragg's aspirations, he resumed his winning streak by winning the first of the blitz tie-break games. The Norwegian ace outplayed Erigaisi, who had already defeated Carlsen in the Aimchess Rapid competition last month.
After holding on for a draw in 86 moves, Carlsen won the first game in 75 moves. To complete a 2.5-0.5 victory, he won the third game after 41 moves. Quang Liem Le of Vietnam upset American Wesley So 2.5-0.5 in another match, while Jaz-Krzysztof Duda of Poland defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5. With two victories and six points, Carlsen is in first place, followed by Duda (6 points).
Erigaisi has not yet created an account, whereas Praggnanandhaa, who has lost both of his bouts, is in sixth place with 1 point. On Thursday, Erigaisi will face So in the third round, while Pragg will face Liem Le. A round-robin event will be played by the eight competitors. The player who earns the most money and points overall is the winner.
As a result of a series of Meltwater Champions Tour tournaments, eight players have earned spots in the Finals. The Tour finals will award a total of USD 210,000 in prizes. For each victory in the round-robin, the player receives USD 7,500.