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Gukesh bests Pragg and wins Gelfand Challenge

by Shahid Ahmed - 14/06/2021

Gukesh played phenomenal chess in the final day as he won all four of his games convincingly to win Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour - Gelfand Challenge. He earned a place in the next Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event where he will play against the world's best. Both Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa finished at 14.0/19, however Gukesh's win over Pragg in Round 17 turned out to be important for Gukesh winning the tournament. Nihal 12.0/19 finished at shared fifth place with Abdusattorov and Yoo. Leon was placed ninth 10.0/19. Challengers Chess Tour will return next month with Hou Yifan Challenge from 15th to 18th July. Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Praggnanandhaa finishes second on tie-breaks, Team Polgar beats Team Kramnik again 101-89

After Liang, Praggnanandhaa and Nihal, it was Gukesh's turn to win all of his games on a single day. Gukesh won all four games on the final day when it mattered the most as he beat Leon, Praggnanandhaa, Jonas and Tingjie to finish with 14.0/19, same score as Pragg. However, Gukesh's win over Pragg in Round 17 turned out to be a deciding factor in Gukesh's winning the entire event. Team Polgar has once again beaten Team Kramnik and this time the margin is bigger 101-89.

Gukesh won the Gelfand Challenge | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Gukesh described his win to be very unexpected, and he is very happy to win the event. "I was very nervous before the last game because I saw the standings and I knew that if I win the game, it's over".


It is a wonderful week for Gukesh because he got the Wild card for the upcoming FIDE World Cup 2021, qualified to the next Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event and his performance was acknowledged by the man who inspire us all - Vishy Anand.

Praggnanandhaa who tied with Gukesh with the same score also congratulated Gukesh

India no.3 Vidit Gujrathi also had very nice words for Gukesh

Gukesh's coach for Team Polgar in the Challengers Chess Tour, Surya Ganguly also congratulated him

Round 16: Gukesh and Pragg win

Day 3 started with Gukesh beating Leon, Pragg scored a win and Nihal lost.

Nihal - Salimova: 0-1

Nihal made a strange backward move against IM Nurgyul Salimova.

Position after 31.Nd2

White could have exchanged the rooks at c8 but 31.Nd2 gave black some significant advantage with 31...c4 and future ideas of b5, Bb6 etc. Nihal got a few opportunities to save the game but he missed them all.

Position after 36...Ba5

How should White defend the knight in the above diagram? The game went on 37.Nf1 Bc3 38.Rh6 Bd4+ and it was all over for White.

Leon - Gukesh: 0-1

Leon missed a tactical opportunity against Gukesh in the middlegame.

Position after 18...Nc5

18...Nc5 is a big mistake. Try to find out why.

Position after 23...Rxd8

White has very few safe squares for the queen. Where should it go? White played the passive 24.Qf1 which was met with 24...Nfd3 and the game was over in another five moves.

Praggnanandhaa - Yoo: 1-0

Praggnanandhaa made a short work of IM Christopher Yoo as he decided to capture a poisoned pawn which led to his queen getting trapped.

Position after 18...Qxh5

Find out how to trap the black queen after 18...Qxh5. Praggnanandhaa found it easily and won the game in another six moves.

Round 17: Gukesh beat Praggnanandhaa

Gukesh scored an important victory against Praggnanandhaa which eventually turned out to be the deciding factor in him winning the event. Nihal won and Leon drew their respective games.

Gukesh - Praggnanandhaa: 1-0

Pragg played a bit passively early in the middlegame.

Position after 16...Bf8

Instead of 16...Bf8, Black could have played actively 16...g5 17.hxg6 fxg6 18.a4 a5 etc. Gukesh slowly outplayed Pragg as his position was cramped and he was running out of decent moves.

Badelka - Leon: 0.5-0.5

IM Olga Badelka held Leon to a well-fought draw.

Liang - Nihal: 0-1

In a relatively equal endgame, GM Awonder Liang made a lapse in judgment which allowed Nihal to launch an attack on his opponent's king.

Position after 31.Rd7

White could have played 31.Qf3 and everything would have been fine but 31.Rd7 invites trouble as 31...Bc5+ starts a barrage of attack, one which White cannot thwart with ease. Later Liang blundered his rook which Nihal initially missed, only to capture it in the next move, resulting in his opponent's immediate resignation.

Round 18: Nihal, Leon and Gukesh win

Nihal, Leon and Gukesh won their respective games. Only Praggnanandhaa was held to a draw.

Nihal - Sara: 1-0

IM Sara Khadem decided to capture a poisoned pawn which sealed her fate.

Position after 14...Bxg4

Find out the best continuation for White in the above diagram.

Leon - Salimova: 1-0

Salimova made a simple checkmate threat against Leon's king but she did not figure it out that it will end up backfiring her.

Position after 16...Qc7

Black has made a checkmate threat at h2 but it is actually a big mistake. Try to find out why.

Praggnanandhaa - Badelka: 0.5-0.5

Badelka once again played very solid. Pragg declined a repetition and pushed for a full point but the Belarusian managed to not make any mistake and make a draw.

Jonas - Gukesh: 0-1

Danish GM Jonas had an opportunity to play an interesting line but he opted to play it safe against Gukesh.

Position after 18...Kh8

Can you find the interesting continuation for White in the above diagram? The game continued 19.Ng5 Nd4 20.Bd1 and White got no further interesting opportunities. Gukesh eventually did a beautiful combination to win the game.

Position after 29.Bb2

Find out the winning combination for Black which Gukesh did in the above diagram.

Round 19: Gukesh and Pragg win

Gukesh and Pragg won their respective games. Leon drew and Nihal lost.

Gukesh - Tingjie: 1-0

Gukesh scored a fantastic victory in the final round against GM Lei Tingjie. He showcased his brilliant understanding and outplayed his opponent positionally in the middlegame and also played the endgame really well.

Salimova - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Salimova made a simple tactical error which cost her material and the game.

Liang - Leon: 0.5-0.5

Leon defended a difficult postion well against Liang and eventually got a perpetual check to make a draw in a challenging endgame.

Murzin - Nihal: 1-0

Nihal had a tough finish as he lost the final round game against IM Volodar Murzin.

Position after 33.gxf4

Black needed to play 33...gxf4+ and things would have been fine but instead 33...Bxh5 allowed white to continue the onslaught 34.Qh3 and eventually checkmate him.

Replay Round 16-19 games

Replay the live stream

Gelfand Challenge Day 4 | Challengers Chess Tour Live Commentary | Video: ChessBase India

Round 16-19 results

Round 16 on 2021/06/13 at 15:00
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
GMKeymer Vincent0 - 1IMMurzin Volodar
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek0 - 1IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat
IMYip Carissa½ - ½GMLiang Awonder
GMNihal Sarin0 - 1IMSalimova Nurgyul
WGMZhu Jiner1 - 0IMBadelka Olga
IMMendonca Leon Luke0 - 1GMGukesh D
GMPraggnanandhaa R1 - 0IMYoo Christopher Woojin
GMBjerre Jonas Buhl½ - ½IMSaduakassova Dinara
GMLei Tingjie0 - 1IMMammadzada Gunay
IMAbdumalik Zhansaya½ - ½IMShuvalova Polina
Round 17 on 2021/06/13 at 15:45
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
IMShuvalova Polina½ - ½GMKeymer Vincent
IMMammadzada Gunay0 - 1IMAbdumalik Zhansaya
IMSaduakassova Dinara0 - 1GMLei Tingjie
IMYoo Christopher Woojin0 - 1GMBjerre Jonas Buhl
GMGukesh D1 - 0GMPraggnanandhaa R
IMBadelka Olga½ - ½IMMendonca Leon Luke
IMSalimova Nurgyul0 - 1WGMZhu Jiner
GMLiang Awonder0 - 1GMNihal Sarin
IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat1 - 0IMYip Carissa
IMMurzin Volodar½ - ½GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
Round 18 on 2021/06/13 at 16:30
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
GMKeymer Vincent0 - 1GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek
IMYip Carissa0 - 1IMMurzin Volodar
GMNihal Sarin1 - 0IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat
WGMZhu Jiner0 - 1GMLiang Awonder
IMMendonca Leon Luke1 - 0IMSalimova Nurgyul
GMPraggnanandhaa R½ - ½IMBadelka Olga
GMBjerre Jonas Buhl0 - 1GMGukesh D
GMLei Tingjie½ - ½IMYoo Christopher Woojin
IMAbdumalik Zhansaya1 - 0IMSaduakassova Dinara
IMShuvalova Polina0 - 1IMMammadzada Gunay
Round 19 on 2021/06/13 at 17:15
Bo.No.GrRtg NameResultName GrRtgNo.
IMMammadzada Gunay0 - 1GMKeymer Vincent
IMSaduakassova Dinara½ - ½IMShuvalova Polina
IMYoo Christopher Woojin1 - 0IMAbdumalik Zhansaya
GMGukesh D1 - 0GMLei Tingjie
IMBadelka Olga1 - 0GMBjerre Jonas Buhl
IMSalimova Nurgyul0 - 1GMPraggnanandhaa R
GMLiang Awonder½ - ½IMMendonca Leon Luke
IMKhademalsharieh Sarasadat0 - 1WGMZhu Jiner
IMMurzin Volodar1 - 0GMNihal Sarin
GMAbdusattorov Nodirbek1 - 0IMYip Carissa

Final Standings after Round 19

Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa both finished at 14.0/19 | Photo: Champions Chess Tour


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