Candidates: Two of a mind: Pragg, Gujrathi romp home but Gukesh held : The Tribune India

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Candidates: Two of a mind: Pragg, Gujrathi romp home but Gukesh held

Candidates: Two of a mind: Pragg, Gujrathi romp home but Gukesh held

D Gukesh drew with Hikaru Nakamura. Photo: Fide


Toronto, April 11

Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi scored crushing victories, while D Gukesh held on to the joint top spot with a draw in a brilliant sixth-round outing for the Indian men’s team at the Candidates chess tournament here.

R Praggnanandhaa. Photo: Fide

Praggnanandhaa prevailed over Nijat Abasov of Azerbaijan, while Gujrathi got the better of Frenchman Alireza Firouzja. Gukesh’s draw came against American Hikaru Nakamura. With eight rounds still remaining, the 17-year-old Gukesh and Ian Nepomniachtchi continue to share the lead in the men’s section with four points each in their kitty.

Russian Nepomniachtchi, who is playing under the FIDE flag, played out a draw with top-seeded American Fabiano Caruana.

Vidit Gujrathi. Photo: Fide

Praggnanandhaa shares the third spot with Caruana on 3.5 points and Gujrathi is not far behind on the joint fifth spot alongside Nakamura with three points.

It was the end of the road for Alireza and Abasov who both are reeling with just 1.5 points close to the half-way stage in the biggest event of the year.

There was disappointment for India in the women’s competition as R Vaishali suffered a reversal, losing to Kateryna Lagno of Russia. Vaishali, who is the elder sister of Praggnanandhaa, now has a lot of ground to cover if she has to come back in the tournament.

Koneru Humpy also lost, to Tingjie Lei of China, while Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria found her nemesis in Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia.

Zhongyi Tan of China scored a win over Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine. With 4.5 points in her bag from six games, Tan seems to be running away and the only threat can come from Goryachkina, who is a half-point behind.

Lagno stands third on 3.5 points, half-a-point ahead of Lei. Vaishali and Salimova remained on 2.5 points and surprisingly Humpy is at the bottom of the tables on two points with Muzychuk.

At their best

Praggnanandhaa started as a huge favourite against Abasov and did not disappoint his fans. The Tarrasch defence has found more than a few takers here in the event but Praggnanandhaa was at his technical best.

The middle game saw the queens getting traded and the Indian had to find some real resources with his knights doing a sort of tango.

Picking up the last remaining pawn on the queen side, Praggnanandhaa ensured he was faster in the race to make a new queen and after 45 moves it was all over for Abasov.

Looking at the volatility in the game, Praggnanandhaa said one needs to play well.

“Every day I am hoping for a calmer game but I am not getting them, it is just that you need to play well whatever position we get,” he said.

Gujrathi was at his best out of a Classical Sicilian too. The Sicilian Classical by Alireza did not pose much of a challenge as the Indian went for the Sozin variation as a surprise factor early in the opening. “I used to play it myself, the Classical, I just thought this will have a mini-surprise effect,” he said.

The plan worked well as Alireza made an opening error and Gujrathi was on top early on. The tactics were handled well by Gujrathi in the ensuing position as he won an exchange and pawn to romp home easily.

#Canada #Chess #Toronto

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