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Superbet Classic Chess: Gukesh draws with Nepomniachtchi, Praggnanandhaa shares point with Vachier-Lagrave

On a day when a rare blunder deprived top seed Fabiano Caruana of his second straight win against compatriot Wesley So, Frenchman Alireza Firouzja launched his campaign with a win over Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan.
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 05:03 IST

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Bucharest, Romania: World Championship challenger D Gukesh played out a hard-fought draw with Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, while fellow Indian R Praggnanandhaa shared points with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in the second round of the Superbet Chess Classic, a part of the Grand Chess tour.

On a day when a rare blunder deprived top seed Fabiano Caruana of his second straight win against compatriot Wesley So, Frenchman Alireza Firouzja launched his campaign with a win over Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan.

The other game in the $350000 prize money tournament ended in a draw as Anish Giri of Holland could not do as much as he might have liked against lowest ranked Deac Bogdan-Daniel of Romania.

With seven rounds still to come in the 10-player double round-robin tournament, Gukesh and Caruana continued to share the lead on 1.5 points and they are followed by Alireza, Praggnanandhaa, Giri, Wesley Vachier-Lagrave and Nepomniachtchi who all have one point each.

Deac Bogdan-Daniel and Abdusattorov have a half point each.

Gukesh has been trying his hands at various positions and it was another variety of Ruy Lopez on board where the Indian survived some anxious moments. Nepomniachtchi was better with his improved pieces in the middle game and his control in the center also gave him an undisputed advantage.

However, with a symmetrical pawn structure it was not so easy to make some concrete progress and Gukesh’s judgement proved correct as the game petered in to a rook and minor piece endgame with just a couple of pawns remaining on the board. The Russian, tried in vain till move 90 before deciding it was impossible to win.

Praggnanandhaa pressed for an advantage for the second day running but found Vachier-Lagrave a hard nut to crack.

It was a Rossolimo opening where the Indian played white and got some optical advantage thanks to better control. The Frenchman was quite up to the task in defense as he gave up a pawn to obtain a balanced endgame where his two Bishops conveniently blocked white’s extra pawn. The game was drawn in 49 moves.

Caruana outplayed Wesley So right from the beginning but missed out on his chances in the later stages of the middle game. Wesley was under serious material deficit at some point in the middle game and later even faced what looked like a hopeless endgame.

Caruana did not find the moves to close the game and Wesley bounced back in the endgame to steer the game to a draw.

Alireza Firouzja seemed determined to make amends for his first round loss against Caruana and he was rewarded quite early as Abdusattorov was not in his elements. The Exchange slav led to a lasting advantage for white following the fall of a black pawn and Alireza made things look easy thereafter to clinch the issue in 38 moves.

Results round 2: R Praggnanandhaa (Ind, 1) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 1); Ian Nepomniachtchi (FID, 1) drew with D Gukesh (Ind, 1.5); Alireza Firouzja (Fra, 1) beat Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb, 0.5) Deac Bogdan-Daniel (Rom, 0.5) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 1); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 1.5) drew with Wesley So (Usa, 1).

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Published 28 June 2024, 05:03 IST

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