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FIDE: Gukesh and Nepomniactchi stay in joint lead; draw between Vidit and R Praggnanandhaa

Gukesh and Nepomniatchi continue to stay in joint lead with 6 points each but now find Pragg, Caruana and Nakamura chasing within striking distance of just half a point. Vidit too stays in contention with 5 points while Alireza with 3.5 points, after today’s loss is just left with a theoretical possibility.
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 04:22 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 04:22 IST

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The much touted encounter between two joint leaders, debutant Gukesh all of 17 years and hot favourite, 33-year-old Ian Neomniachtchi gunning for his third title on the trot petered to a quiet draw in the ninth round of the FIDE Candidates Chess tournament being played at Toronto, Canada.

The all-Indian game between R Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi also failed to provide any fireworks, fizzling into a draw. The top two rating favourites Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura carved out victories against Nijat Abasov and Alireza Ferouzja respectively, albeit not as convincingly as they would have liked, but never-the less moved up the standings and enhance their title chances. Four more rounds remain to be played in this 8 player Double Round Robin event.

Gukesh and Nepomniatchi continue to stay in joint lead with 6 points each but now find Pragg, Caruana and Nakamura chasing within striking distance of just half a point. Vidit too stays in contention with 5 points while Alireza with 3.5 points, after today’s loss is just left with a theoretical possibility. The elite eight player candidates are heading into the third rest day tomorrow, a much needed respite after three dramatic rounds. The winner of this tournament will qualify for the World title match against reigning World Champion Ding Liren of China.

In the Women’s section, both the Chinese women in fray are jointly leading the event with 6.5 points each. Lei Tingjie scored a crucial victory over Alexandra Goryachkina while overnight sole leader Tan Zhongyi was held to a draw by India’s Koneru Humpy. R Vaishali scored a victory over Nurgyul Salimova while Kateryna Lagno was held to a draw by Anna Muzychuk. Lagno and Goryachkina have tallied 5.5 points and Humpy 4.5.

An interesting aspect of the tenth round was all the four games started with King pawn Opening which is quite rare in events of this magnitude.

The Ruy-Lopez Opening between Nepomniachtchi and Gukesh was a rather subdued, but solid display of positional chess where the pieces kept flying off the board at every possible opportunity to reach a dead-end with rooks and pawns on the 40th turn. Gukesh explained simply “I was playing with Black pieces and he played solidly so I think it is a just result”.

Pragg after his draw against Vidit appeared disappointed and quipped “I wanted to put more pressure as were looking at this line for a long time. I misplayed and not very thrilled with this game”.

Vidit stayed true to the Berlin defence against Pragg and things looked promising after the players castled on opposite flanks. However, after the exchange of queen’s, the position did not offer much for either player and thus draw was sealed on the 39th turn by repetition of moves.

Interestingly it was a much needed comeback by Nakamura after losing to Vidit in the previous round against ABsov in a Petroff Defence game today. “My technique was horrible” confessed Nakamura after crafting a victory after 58 moves.

Zhongyi versus Humpy game in a Scotch opening lasted 72 moves before the players called it a day in a rook ending where Humpy had an extra pawn.

Results after Round 10

R Praggnanandhaa (5.5) drew Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (5);

Ian Neomniachtchi (6) drew D Gukesh (6);

Hikaru Nakamura (5.5) bt Alireza Firouzja (3.5);

Fabiano Caruana (5.5) bt Nijat Abasov (3).

Women’s section

Tan Zhongyi (6.5) drew Koneru Humpy (4.5);

Nurgyul Salimova (4) lost to R Vaishali (3.5);

Kateryna Lagno (5.5) drew Anna Muzychuk (4);

Aleksandra Goryachkina (5.5) lost to Lei Tingjie (6.5).

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Published 16 April 2024, 04:22 IST

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