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Praggnanandhaa crushes Keymer in opener

Praggnanandhaa is a very dangerous opponent when on the attack, and the first round was no different as the Indian started off with an Italian opening and then uncorked a thematic piece sacrifice in the middle game to rip apart black's king side.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 15:42 IST

Prague: India's R Praggnanandhaa came up with a scintillating performance to grind down German Vincent Keymer in the first round of the Prague Masters Chess tournament that got underway here on Wednesday.

With this win Praggnanandhaa also added some more spice to the tale around the highest rated Indian as he again overtook Viswanathan Anand in live rating to clinch the top spot in the country.

Nodirbek Abdusattar of Uzbekistan defeated Nguyen Thai Dai Van of Czech Republic while Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran was the other player to score a full point at the expense of Bartel Mateusz of Poland.

In other games of the day, D Gukesh had a chance to fight for more but had to settle for a draw with Richard Rapport of Romania, and Vidit Gujrathi split the point with David Navara of Czech Republic.

Praggnanandhaa is a very dangerous opponent when on the attack, and the first round was no different as the Indian started off with an Italian opening and then uncorked a thematic piece sacrifice in the middle game to rip apart black's king side.

Keymer's attempt to find a proper defense did not see the light of the day and his defense crumbled as the pressure mounted. The final nail in the coffin was a deftly planned pawn move that sealed the game in just 41 moves for Praggnanandhaa.

Abdusattarov is known for his skills in all departments of the game, and it was his turn to showcase his endgame skills in one of the topical variations of the Catalan opening as white.

Reaching a quite but dangerous endgame for Van, the Uzbek showed no mercy and clocked in one correct move after another to get the vital point in 41 moves.

Maghsoodloo was the only player in the Masters to win as black after Mateusz simply collapsed in the middle game. The opening was a Sicilian Rossolimo wherein Mateusz got just about a balanced middlegame.

A wrong pawn move on the king side cost the Polish GM dearly as Maghsoodloo cashed in with a timely attack. The game was over in a mere 34 moves.

Vidit Gujrathi had white pieces, but Navara David was quite up to the mark in his defense. A side variation in the Berlin defense by Vidit only gave some optical advantage as David neutralized in quick time.

Gujrathi tried for as long as 89 moves before finally signing the peace.

Gukesh faced the Sicilian Classical from Richard Rapport and looked in control in what appeared to be a wild middle game. The excitement, however, was short-lived as Gukesh went for trading the queens when many felt that he should have retained.

The result was a draw after 40 moves.

In the Challengers section, R Vaishali lost her first-round game against Ukrainian Anton Korobov.

Results round 1 (Indians unless stated): R Praggnanandhaa beat Vincent Keymer (Ger); D Gukesh drew with Richard Rapport (Hun); Vidit Gujrathi drew with Navara David (Cze); Nodirbek Abdusattarov (Uzb) beat Nguyen Thai Dai Van (Cze); Bartel Mateusz (Pol) lost to Parham Maghsoodloo (Iri).

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(Published 28 February 2024, 15:42 IST)

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