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Candidates Tournament 2024: Exciting contests on the cards in round 11

All the three Indians wielding whites will be taking on the top three pre- tournament favourites.
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 14:19 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 14:19 IST

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Toronto: If imagining three debutant Indians amongst the elite eight at FIDE Candidates Chess tournament appeared highly improbable even a year back, then all the three Indians in contention for the title after a gruelling fortnight is the reality, going into the third rest day.

10 rounds of the FIDE Candidates 2024 Chess tournament have been played so far at Toronto,Cananda.

17-year-old D Gukesh is jointly at the top of standings with Ian Nepomniachtchi, both having aggregated 6 points.

18-year-old R Praggnanandhaa along with Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura are hot in pursuit just half a point behind while 29- year-old Vidit Gujrathi with 5 points is also in contention with just four more rounds remaining.

With the players bunched so tightly at the top, the remaining rounds promise to be enthralling and engrossing with the race still wide open for the title .

The Chinese women in joint lead Tan Zhongyi and Lei Tingjie with 6.5 points appear title favourites at this point with a one point lead over next placed Kateryna Lahno and Aleksandra Goryachkina. India’s best bet Koneru Humpy got bogged down in the initial stages and with 4.5 points in her kitty, chances appear minimal. R Vaishali also making her debut has not been in good form and has tallied 3 points.

Round 11 has exciting fare in store with all three Indians wielding whites taking on the top three pre- tournament favourites.

Gukesh is pitted against Caruana, Pragg plays Nakamura and Vidit versus Nepomniachtchi. All the three Indians have finished their encounters against themselves as is the norm.

Gukesh has a comparatively easier draw in the remaining rounds, taking on Caruana, Abasov, Alireza and Nakmura respectively while Pragg is pitted against Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi, Caruana and Abasov respectively. Vidit will play Nepomniachtchi, Caruana, Abasov and Alireza respectively.

All the three Indians in fray may not be the rating favourites but are dangerous opponents, capable of pulling any major upset. Incidentally all three have been playing above their rating strength.

Vidit pierced Nakmura twice and is the only Indian in the tournament to have notched up three victories. Gukesh has been calm, composed and in control of the board. Pragg has impressed with his preparation while Vidit has been volatile with three wins and two losses.  All the three Indians have shown some superb temperament to bounce back strongly after losses, not overawed either by ratings or reputations indicating their strong mental strength.

Nepomniachtchi gunning for a hat-trick of Candidates titles is the only unbeaten player in fray. He may not have dominated the games but showed dour defence to wriggle out of unpleasant positions. Caruana, the only player above the Elo 2800 mark here has had a slow, sedate start  but never the less has managed to keep pace with the pack. Nakamura has been impressive and despite two shocking losses to Vidit, his three victories have ensured that he stays in strong contention for the title.

Round 11 Pairings

R Praggnanandhaa (5.5) vs Hikaru Nakamura (5.5);

Vidit Gujrathi (5) vs Nepomniachtchi (6)

D Gukesh (6) vs Fabiano Caruana (5.5);

Alireza Firouzja (3.5) vs Nijat Abasov (3)

Women’s Section

Tan Zhongyi (6.5) vs Kateryna Lagno (5.5);

Konerun Humpy (4.5) vs Nurgyul Salimova (4);

R Vaishal i (3.5) vs Alexandra Goryachkina (5.5);

Lei Tingjie (6.5) vs Anna Muzychuk (4)

Standings after Round 10:

Open:

1-2. Gukesh, Nepomniachtchi – 6
3-5. Caruana, Nakamura, Praggnanandhaa – 5½
6. Vidit – 5
7. Firouzja – 3½
8. Abasov – 3

Women’s:

1-2. Tan, Lei – 6½
3-4. Goryachkina, Lagno  – 5½
5. Koneru – 4½
6-7. Salimova, A. Muzychuk – 4
8. Vaishali – 3½

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Published 17 April 2024, 14:19 IST

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