Candidates’ Chess: Gukesh to clash with Caruana, Praggnanandhaa takes on Nakamura

Toronto, Apr 17 (PTI) In a joint lead with Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi, D Gukesh will take on the top seeded Fabiano Caruana of the United States while R Praggnanandhaa will be up against a resurgent American Hikaru Nakamura, in the 11th round of the Candidates chess tournament here.

With just four rounds remaining, it is a level-playing field for the two Indian teenagers while Vidit Gujrathi has kept himself in reckoning and only needs to finish well.

Nepomniachtchi, the only unbeaten player so far, is playing under the FIDE flag and has a tough opposition to tackle in the next two rounds.

Gujrathi meets Nepomniachtchi in the next round followed by Praggnanandhaa and these two matches will probably set the tone of the tournament and might just be pivotal to decide the next world championship challenger.

For Gukesh, the clash with Caruana is going to be crucial as the Indian has white pieces. If he is able to press for advantage, the onus will be on Caruana to prove his detractors wrong.

The Italian-turned-American has been a part of his sixth candidates’ tournament in a row but has only won it once.

Gukesh will probably train his eyes on beating the lowest-placed Abasov in the 12th round, provided he gets past Caruana unscathed.

Set to play against the Azerbaijani with black, Gukesh will surely go all-out for a victory even as Abasov has been super solid with his white pieces.

The most crucial line up in the next two rounds, from an Indian perspective, are the two games that Praggnanandhaa is set to play.

The Indian was instrumental in beating Nakamura in the last World Cup and will look forward to an encore, especially taking a cue from Gujrathi who has won both his games against the American.

After Nakamura, it will be a clash against Nepomniachtchi for Praggnanandhaa and if the 18-year-old can withstand the pressure of these two games, one can expect him to be in firing line for the winner’s purse of 48,000 Euros.

In the Women’s candidate, the race is between the two Chinese players Zhongyi Tan and Tingjie Lei, who have proved superior to the rest.

While the men’s event has seen some really deep preparation, the skills have been the go-to factor in the women’s event.

In theory, Koneru Humpy might still be in with a chance but practically the Indian challenge has almost ended in this section.

With the two leaders on 6.5 points each, Russians Aleksandra Goryachkina and Kateryna Lagno are the closest in pursuit with 5.5 points apiece. Humpy on 4.5 holds the distant fifth spot and needs a miracle.

The other Indian, R Vaishali won her last game against Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria but remains on the last spot.

Pairings round 11 (Indians unless specified): =============================== D Gukesh (6) vs Fabiano Caruana (USA, 5.5); Vidit Gujrathi (5) vs Ian Nepomniachtchi (FIDE, 6); R Praggnanandhaa (5.5) vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 5.5); Firouza Alireza (FRA, 3.5) vs Nijat Abasov (AZE, 3).

Women’s: Koneru Humpy (4.5) vs Nurgyuaal Salimova (BUL, 4); R Vaishali (3.5) vs Aleksandra Goryachkina (FIDE, 5.5); Zhongyi Tan (6.5) vs Kateryna Lagno (FIDE, 5.5); Tingjei Lei (CHN, 6.5) vs Anna Muzychuk (UKR, 4).

Source: PTI News


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