New in Chess Classic Day 1: Praggnanandhaa makes a brilliant start 3.0/5
Meltwater Champions Chess Tour New in Chess Classic Day 1 undoubtedly goes to Praggnanandhaa. He made most of the opportunity and scored an impressive 3.0/5. He beat Duda and Karjakin convincingly, made solid draws with Jones and Mamedyarov. Vidit also had a fantastic day as held the world champion Carlsen to a brilliantly fought draw in a near flawless game. Radjabov is the sole leader at the end of Day 1 with 4.0/5 followed by Firouzja and Carlsen at 3.5/5. Catch Day 2 action tonight on ChessBase India youtube channel from 10:30 p.m. IST. with live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal. Photo: Amruta Mokal
Vidit holds Carlsen to a draw
Four players made their Meltwater Champions Chess Tour debuts. Out of them Praggnanandhaa was the most impressive. He started the event with a victory over Duda, drew with Gawain Jones and Mamedyarov and finished the day with a beautiful victory over Karjakin. He is currently at shared fourth place with Aronian, Nakamura and Vidit. The only other Indian taking part in this event is Vidit Gujrathi who also showcased his incredible strength as he held the world champion Magnus Carlsen to a hard fought in Round 4.
Praggnanandhaa had a great start | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Round 1: Pragg's king walk
Praggnanandhaa made a beautiful king walk in the first game against Duda to start his event with a victory.
Duda - Praggnanandhaa
The beautiful king walk paid off as black got into a completely winning position after 42...Kd2 and he won the game in another eight moves.
Vidit made a fantastic save against Aryan Tari as he salvaged a draw from a difficult position.
Round 2: Pragg holds Gawain to a draw
In a battle of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour debutants, Praggnanandhaa held England no.4 Gawain Jones to a solid draw.
Vidit also made a solid draw with Aronian in 29 moves.
Round 3: Vidit beats Christiansen
Another Meltwater Champions Chess Tour debutant, GM Johan-Sebastian Christiansen overstretched in the middlegame which weakened his kingside more than he could hope for.
Christiansen - Vidit
28.h6 was uncalled for. Instead white should have gone 28.Rg1 or Kh2 which would have been relatively fine for white.
Praggnanandhaa suffered his first loss of the event against Wesley So who was coming off the heels of a 20-move loss against Duda in the previous round.
Praggnanandhaa - So
14.a3 novelty did not turn out well for white as after 14...Bb2, white did not get enough compensation for the a3-pawn. So slowly outplayed Pragg and scored his first victory of the event after suffering two consecutive losses.
Round 4: Vidit holds Carlsen to a draw
Praggnanandhaa made a solid draw against Mamedyarov. Although he was having the upper hand at one point.
Mamedyarov - Praggnanandhaa
Here black needed to play 20...Ne8 to maintain his advantage but the game went on with 21.Nxg5. One must applaud Pragg because he refused threefold repetition twice, eventually he made a draw when he saw that draw is the only plausible result in the resultant knight endgame.
Vidit played a near flawless game and gave zero chances to the world champion to make a hard fought draw in 75 moves.
Round 5: Pragg beats Karjakin
Vidit had the upper hand in the early middlegame. However, a momentary lapse of concentration cost him a pawn and Nakamura being tactically alert as always managed to equalize.
Nakamura - Vidit
18...Bf7 is a mistake. Find out why and also what black should have played instead.
Just like how he started the day, Praggnanandhaa finished the day by beating the youngest grandmaster in history and former world championship challenger - Sergey Karjakin.
Praggnanandhaa - Karjakin
To understand the confidence level of Praggnanandhaa, you just have to take a closer look at 37.Ne5. Sure computer may not like that move but from a human perspective, practically it is not at all pleasant for black. So it was a brilliant decision on Pragg's part.
The final mistake came in the form of 46...d3. Of course Pragg is not going to miss these opportunities after he launched relentless attacks to the 'Minister of Defence'.
Replay all Round 1-5 games from Day 1
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Standings after Round 5
Everyday game starts at 10:30 p.m. IST