Strong Candidates? R Praggnanandhaa leads India as world watches his moves : The Tribune India

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Strong Candidates? R Praggnanandhaa leads India as world watches his moves

Strong Candidates? R Praggnanandhaa leads India as world watches his moves

R Praggnanandhaa and Koneru Humpy are India’s best bets at the prestigious Candidates. - File photo



PTI

Toronto, April 2

Teen sensation R Praggnanandhaa will enter as the favourite among the three Indian participants in the Candidates chess tournament that will get underway here from tomorrow to decide the challenger for the next World Championship match.

After nearly 35 years, as many as three Indians — Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh and Vidit Gujrathi — have qualified for the most prestigious event of the year that has just eight participants.

According to an expert, India is the new Russia of the chess world, as in the past such dominance was only shown by the Russian players. Praggnanandhaa, 18, starts as the rating favourite among the Indians and also as the favourite of the chess buffs even as the top bracket of the world feels that all the three Indians still need time to settle among the world elite.

Praggnanandhaa will likely have the assistance of eight-time Russian champion Peter Svidler for the event. One cannot help but recall that during one of the Worlds, Indian grandmaster P Harikrishna had assisted Svidler in his quest to be the world champion.

While Svidler could be a game-changer, it will largely depend on Praggnanandhaa’s form and how he adapts in this tough event, where the eight players will play each other twice.

At just 17 years, Gukesh is hailed as one of the finest talents around. The Indian is also the youngest participant in the fray and second-youngest ever after Robert James Fischer — aka Bobby Fischer — to qualify for the elite event. Fischer was 16-year-old when he qualified in 1959.

Gujrathi will have his task cut out and much will depend on his form. In his last outing, the Nasik-based player did not do well at the Prague Masters and slipped considerably in the ratings list also.

Humpy in focus

Grandmaster Koneru Humpy will spearhead the Indian challenge in the women’s Candidates.

While Grandmaster Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia starts as the rating favourite for the crown and former women’s world champion Lei Tingjie of China is a close second, a lot will depend on how these two fair against the rest of the six participants, including Humpy.

While on paper Indian challenge is spearheaded by Humpy, the significance of R Vaishali in the tournament cannot be ruled out, thanks to her never-say-die approach and unique uncompromising style.

Tan Zhongyi of China is another player who is likely to be in the thick of things along with Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine. The Chinese is known for her preparation, while Muzychuk on her day can be devastating for any opponent.

#Canada #Chess #Toronto


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