Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh lose in tiebreaker; Caruana wins title

BUCHAREST (ROMANIA), July 6: World number two Fabiano Caruana defended his Superbet Classic title by winning all three rapid games in a thrilling four-way tiebreaker, featuring Indian Grandmasters D Gukesh and R Praggnanandhaa, after a rather dull tournament.

Caruana lost to Anish Giri of Holland in the Classical format to split the competition wide open as Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa and France’s Alireza Firouzja all finished the classical section tied for first.

Praggnanandhaa survived by the skin of the teeth against Alireza, who held a completely winning position for a long time. If the Frenchman had won the final classical round there would have been no need of tiebreak games as he would have overtaken Caruana on points.

But Caruana lost, Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa drew and that set up a four-way tiebreaker to decide the winner.

Caruana, not known as a tiebreaker master, proved that he can get the better of the younger generation as he defeated all three –- Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa and Alireza to come up trumps and win the first prize hamper of USD 68500.

The tiebreaker saw the two Indians on the backfoot. Gukesh could have done better but Caruana was spot on while Praggnanandhaa could have complicated things.

Earlier, Praggnanandhaa was staring at his first defeat in the tournament as Alireza was clearly on top.

The Indian struggled in the middle game and had to part with a rook for a minor piece but fought till the last to salvage a lost a position.

Gukesh  played out a draw with Wesley So in a mere 22 moves, the Nimzo Indian defense did not give any confidence to the American and the draw was through repetition of moves.

Results final round: Anish Giri (Ned, 4.5) beat Fabiano Caruana (5); Alireza Firouzja (Fra, 5) drew with R Praggnaanandhaa (Ind. 5); Deac Bogdan-Daniel (Rom, 3.5) drew with  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 4.5); Wesley So (USa, 4) drew with D Gukesh (Ind, 5);; Ian Nepomnichtchi (Fid, 4.5) drew with Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb, 4.5). (PTI)

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