R Praggnanandhaa I PTI
Oslo: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa will fight it out with World N.o 1 Magnus Carlsen for the Oslo Esports Cup title after losing his penultimate round match in the rapid chess tournament on Wednesday night
Three points ahead going into the penultimate round of the $210,000 event, thev16-year-old Pragg suffered a painful defeat against Poland's World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
It handed world Champion Carlsen a golden opportunity to go level on points with the youngster and overtake him on the leaderboard due to their head-to-head score.
Carlsen, as always, grabbed the opportunity with both hands by thrashing the lowest-ranked player in the field, Canad's Eric Hansen. The Norwegian is now hot favourite to win the first Major of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour season.
Duda also isn't out of it, as he sits just one point behind on the leaderboard. However, the Pole needs a 3-point win against Hansen and defeats for both Carlsen and Pragg.
Carlsen, meanwhile, faces the dangerous Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in Round 7 while Pragg is up against Anish Giri.
For Pragg, it was nowhere near as comfortable a day as he'd hoped. Game 1 started unconventionally as Duda played an English Opening with 6.e3 and then the ultra-rare 9.b3.
Duda was allowed to advance a pawn on the f-file to the seventh rank and the result was inevitable. Pragg resigned on move 65, according to a report by the organisers
In the second game, the 16-year-old from Chennai overstretched with 24.c6 and from there Duda was ruthless. Pragg shook his head as he resigned in an impossible position on move 37.
It left the youngster with an uphill struggle needing to win both remaining games on demand just to take it to tiebreaks.
It wasn't to be as the third game ended in a draw after the queens came off. The match ended 2.5-0.5 in Duda's favour.
Asked if he can win the tournament, Pragg said: "I just want to play better chess and then we'll see."
So far, both matches had finished in three games and the third was no different as Liem Quang Le thrashed Play Magnus Group's new ambassador, Dutch No.1 Anish Giri 2.5-0.5.
The last match to finish was �which went to a fourth game in which the Azeri needed to win to take it to tiebreaks, which the former won 2-0.