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Candidates 2024: Pragganandhaa holds Firouza, Vidit draws with Gukesh

All Indian GMs played draw in their respective matches of the first round of the ongoing Candidates Chess tournament.

Candidates 2024: Pragganandhaa holds Firouza, Vidit draws with Gukesh

Vidit Gujrathi, R. Praggnanandhaa and R. Vaishali will make their debut at the FIDE Candidates 2024.  


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 5 April 2024 5:25 AM GMT

All Indian players shared the spoils in their respective games of the first round of the Candidates chess tournament on Thursday in Toronto, Canada.

Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa overcame some tense moments before settling for a draw against France's Firouza Alireza while D Gukesh could do little against compatriot Vidit Gujrathi.

In the women's section, R Vaishali and Koneru Humpy also played out a draw sharing the points.

All matches in the men's section ended in a draw including the All-American battle between Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura and Nijat Abasov of Azerbaijan holding Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.

In women's section, Zhongyi Tan won the first point defeating her countrymate Tingjie Lei while the other two games were draw. Russians Aleksandra Goryachkina and Kateryna Lagno signed peace while the lowest ranked and only non-Grandmaster Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria had a good start holding Anna Muzychuk to a draw.

The opening surprises hold a key point in everyone's preparation for a tournament like the Candidates and the opener was not devoid of it. Praggnanandhaa sprang the first one going for the open Ruy Lopez as black against Alireza.

The Frenchman went for the complications he is pretty much known for right from the early middle game. Praggnanandhaa took his chances going for a king side attack after puncturing white's pawn structure.

However as it turned out, the open centre gave enough counterplay and the game took a sharp turn when Alireza went for a pawn sacrifice on move 29 and followed it up with a knight sacrifice on the next turn.

Praggnanandhaa had to find the only possible defense which the Indian did in quick time. The game was drawn vide repetition on move 39.

Another game to end through repetition of moves was between Gukesh and Gujrathi.

Gukesh was up against the Tarrasch defense which does not find many takers at the highest level. The choice by Gujrathi had the right effect as Gukesh decided not to test his opponent in the main lines and his sedate approach only yielded a stable position.

Gujrathi kept looking for his chances in a balanced position and came up with a spectacular Bishop sacrifice on the 17th move. Gukesh immediately figured that accepting the Bishop would be fatal and went for a forced repetition.

In the women's section, Vaishali was quite up to the task in holding off Humpy. The Italian opening by Vaishali gave an easy game to the latter and there wasn't much action as the players exchanged pieces quickly. The minor piece endgame did not offer any chances and the draw was a just result after 41 moves.

(With PTI Inputs)

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