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Gelfand Challenge Day 1: Awonder Liang makes a perfect start 5.0/5

by Shahid Ahmed - 11/06/2021

Awonder Liang dominated the first day of the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour Gelfand Challenge. He won all five of his games and took sole lead 5.0/5. Abdusattorov is currently at sole second position 4.0/5. Praggnanandhaa, Nihal and Gukesh scored 3.0/5 and Leon made 2.5/5. Pragg had Liang on the ropes in the very first round but somehow he managed to escape his grasp. Both Pragg and Nihal lost against Abdusattorov. Gukesh suffered his sole loss against Yoo in the final round of the day. Round 6 continues today from 6:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Team Kramnik - Team Polgar: 24-26

GM Awonder Liang started the Gelfand Challenge with a perfect score of 5.0/5. The American had a shaky start against Praggnanandhaa in the first round but somehow managed to steer away from all danger and eventually scored a victory. He went on to win the next five games.

Liang made a fantastic start | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 1: Gukesh beat Abdumalik

Only Gukesh won against Abdumalik among Indian kids. Nihal, Leon and Praggnanandhaa lost their respective games.

Nihal - Abdusattorov: 0-1

Nihal had a very exciting sharp game against GM Nodirbek Abudsattorov. Despite being better for the majority of the game, a mistake in the endgame cost him dearly.

Position after 27.Bg3

White is completely better. What happens if black plays 27...Bxf5 28.gxf5 e3 ? It happened in the game and Nihal completely saw it through. Try to find it like him. It is a beautiful combination.

Position after 49...Nd6

White can still win this but with less time on the clock, it is not going to be easy. One of the way to continue was 50.Qf8+ Kc7 51.Qg7+ Kb8 52.h5. Nihal blundered the h-pawn and the knight in a few moves, eventually lost the game.

Leon - Sara: 0-1

Leon got into a cramped position against IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh.

Position after 34.Qa1

White's position does not look comfortable at all after 34.Qa1

Position after 36...g6

36...g6 gave white an opportunity to get back in the game. What is it? White blundered 37.g3 and Black finally gained exchange 37...Na2, eventually the game too.

Praggnanandhaa - Liang: 0-1

Praggnanandhaa got an early opportunity against GM Awonder Liang in the middlegame.

Position after 20...Qe7

Black erred by playing 20...Qe7 which created a small window of opportunity for white. What is it? Unfortunately white opted for the meek 21.Ng4.

Position after 22...Rfe8

White got another opportunity in the above diagram and he seized it by taking the knight 23.Rxe4. However the follow through did not yield much and eventually white decided to exchange queens. Find out the better continuation after 23...Qxe4. Eventually white misplayed the Rook and few pawns ending which cost him the game.

Abdumalik - Gukesh: 0-1

Zhansaya Abudmalik recently became Kazakhstan's latest GM, a day after winning the Gibraltar GP. So naturally she is in top form and Gukesh scoring a victory against her is definitely a good one.

Position after 33.Ra3

White went wrong in a seemingly equal endgame with 33.Ra3. Try to find out why it is a big mistake. Black capitalized on the mistake and converted it into a victory.

Round 2: Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa and Leon win

Round 2 turned out to be a good one as Gukesh, Pragg and Leon scored a victory each. Only Nihal was held to a draw by IM Carissa Yip.

Gukesh - Shuvalova: 1-0

Gukesh persevered through a difficult position against IM Polina Shuvalova and when his opponent made a mistake in the endgame, he took it.

Position after 53...Qa5

Black needed to avoid queen exchange. 53...Qd1 would have been a better continuation. White would be delighted to exchange queens in the above diagram with 54.Qe5+. The rest is academic which we are all sure Gukesh can convert without any difficulty.

Sara - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Praggnanandhaa scored a fine victory over Sara. However things were not always easy, Pragg could have been in deep trouble if his opponent spotted it at the right time.

Position after 18...Qb8

18...Qb8 was a positional mistake. Find out why. White missed it and continued the game 19.Ng3.

Position after 32...Bxc6

In the above diagram, which one should white capture first and why? White made an incorrect capture and lost the game in another five moves.

Murzin - Leon: 0-1

IM Volodar Murzin decided to give up his queen for two minor pieces but he never got enough compensation for it and Leon needed only 26 moves to win the game.

Nihal Sarin completely outplayed IM Carissa Yip.

Round 3: Nihal beat Keymer

Nihal and Pragg scored victories, Leon lost and Gukesh was held to a draw.

Nihal - Keymer: 1-0

Keymer made a questionable decision to do castling at a wrong time.

Position after 21...0-0-0

21...0-0-0 at a first glance may seem like black king is safer than white's but a closer inspection reveals the truth to be the opposite. Find out why it is a mistake and what Black should have done instead.

Position after 24...g3

Black's king is absolutely vulnerable in the above diagram. Find out how should white take advantage of it. It is well established that Nihal is extremely good at sharp positions and he had no trouble converting it into a victory.

Leon - Abdusattorov: 0-1

Leon had an absolutel roller-coaster of a game with Abdusattorov.

Position after 37...Kf8

In the above diagram, it is White who is better. The question is what should White do now? After both sides making plenty of mistakes, Abdusattorov capitalized on Leon's blunder and checkmated him. However the final position was completely winning for Leon had he not blundered the checkmate.

Praggnanandhaa - Murzin: 1-0

Praggnanandhaa scored a fine victory over Murzin.

Mammadzada - Gukesh: 0.5-0.5

Mammadzada held Gukesh to a well fought draw.

Round 4: Leon and Nihal score wins

Only Leon and Nihal scored victories, Gukesh was held to a draw and Pragg lost.

Gukesh - Saduakassova: 0.5-0.5

Gukesh had another grueling draw and made a good save as he was lost for the better part of the endgame.

Abdusattorov - Praggnanandhaa: 1-0

Praggnanandhaa went wrong in the endgame against Abdusattorov.

Position after 44...Be6

It was certainly not an easy endgame and 44...Be6 did not help Black's chances. 44...Rg4 would have kept the fight going.

Yip - Leon: 0-1

Leon scored a nice victory over IM Carissa Yip.

Nihal - Jiner: 1-0

Nihal made a short work of WGM Zhu Jiner in 26 moves after the latter made a tactical mistake.

Round 5: Leon drew with Nihal

Round-Robin tournament means everyone plays against all other opponents. In Round 5, Leon drew with Nihal, Praggnanandhaa won and Gukesh lost.

Leon - Nihal: 0.5-0.5

Leon and Nihal had an uneventful draw.

Praggnanandhaa - Yip: 1-0

Pragg scored an exemplary victory over Yip.

Position after 20...Rb8

It is evident that white has a huge positional advantage in the above diagram but how should white capitalize on it? Try to think like Pragg and find out the correct plan for white.

Praggnanandhaa inspired by Tigran Petrosian in the KID | Video: Sagar Shah

Yoo - Gukesh: 1-0

Yoo made a sacrifice which is not correct. Unfortunately for Gukesh, he could not capitalize on it.

Position after 22.Bxe4

22.Bxe4 does not work. Why? Gukesh got a few chances to equalize later but he missed them.

Replay Round 1-5 games

Replay the live stream

Gelfand Challenge Day 1 | Challengers Chess Tour Live Commentary | Video: ChessBase India

Round 1-5 results

Round 1 on 2021/06/10 at 15:00
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
IMYip Carissa0 - 1GMKeymer Vincent
GMNihal Sarin0 - 1GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
WGMZhu Jiner0 - 1IMMurzin Volodar
IMMendonca Leon Luke0 - 1IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat
GMPraggnanandhaa R0 - 1GMLiang Awonder
GMBjerre Jonas Buhl½ - ½IMSalimova Nurgyul
GMLei Tingjie1 - 0IMBadelka Olga
IMAbdumalik Zhansaya0 - 1GMGukesh D
IMShuvalova Polina0 - 1IMYoo Christopher Woojin
IMMammadzada Gunay0 - 1IMSaduakassova Dinara
Round 2 on 2021/06/10 at 15:45
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
GMKeymer Vincent1 - 0IMSaduakassova Dinara
IMYoo Christopher Woojin0 - 1IMMammadzada Gunay
GMGukesh D1 - 0IMShuvalova Polina
IMBadelka Olga1 - 0IMAbdumalik Zhansaya
IMSalimova Nurgyul½ - ½GMLei Tingjie
GMLiang Awonder1 - 0GMBjerre Jonas Buhl
IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat0 - 1GMPraggnanandhaa R
IMMurzin Volodar0 - 1IMMendonca Leon Luke
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek½ - ½WGMZhu Jiner
IMYip Carissa½ - ½GMNihal Sarin
Round 3 on 2021/06/10 at 16:30
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
GMNihal Sarin1 - 0GMKeymer Vincent
WGMZhu Jiner1 - 0IMYip Carissa
IMMendonca Leon Luke0 - 1GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
GMPraggnanandhaa R1 - 0IMMurzin Volodar
GMBjerre Jonas Buhl1 - 0IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat
GMLei Tingjie0 - 1GMLiang Awonder
IMAbdumalik Zhansaya1 - 0IMSalimova Nurgyul
IMShuvalova Polina1 - 0IMBadelka Olga
IMMammadzada Gunay½ - ½GMGukesh D
IMSaduakassova Dinara½ - ½IMYoo Christopher Woojin
Round 4 on 2021/06/10 at 17:15
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
GMKeymer Vincent½ - ½IMYoo Christopher Woojin
GMGukesh D½ - ½IMSaduakassova Dinara
IMBadelka Olga0 - 1IMMammadzada Gunay
IMSalimova Nurgyul1 - 0IMShuvalova Polina
GMLiang Awonder1 - 0IMAbdumalik Zhansaya
IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat½ - ½GMLei Tingjie
IMMurzin Volodar1 - 0GMBjerre Jonas Buhl
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek1 - 0GMPraggnanandhaa R
IMYip Carissa0 - 1IMMendonca Leon Luke
GMNihal Sarin1 - 0WGMZhu Jiner
Round 5 on 2021/06/10 at 18:00
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
WGMZhu Jiner0 - 1GMKeymer Vincent
IMMendonca Leon Luke½ - ½GMNihal Sarin
GMPraggnanandhaa R1 - 0IMYip Carissa
GMBjerre Jonas Buhl½ - ½GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
GMLei Tingjie1 - 0IMMurzin Volodar
IMAbdumalik Zhansaya½ - ½IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat
IMShuvalova Polina0 - 1GMLiang Awonder
IMMammadzada Gunay1 - 0IMSalimova Nurgyul
IMSaduakassova Dinara1 - 0IMBadelka Olga
IMYoo Christopher Woojin1 - 0GMGukesh D

Standings after Round 5

Praggnanandhaa, Yoo and Abdusattorov share the lead | Photo: Champions Chess Tour



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