Polgar challenge: Praggnanandhaa takes the lead

Eight consecutive wins

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, also known as Pragg, got his third standard from GM in Ortisei, a small town in northern Italy in June 2018. He would later be confirmed as India’s 52nd Grandmaster. To date, Pragg is the fourth youngest player to win the GM title, behind Sergey Karjakin, Gukesh D and Javokhir Sindarov.

The 15-year-old started the tournament with a loss to an even younger opponent, Russia’s IM Volodar Murzin. Looking back, since an apparently dominant score will be needed to win the tournament, this loss could have seriously damaged the Indian’s chances of winning the title. However, his results from that point on have been outstanding – Pragg won every match in rounds 2-9 and drew Awonder Liang in the final match on Friday to enter the final 9 rounds of the event as that only leader.

Pragg has shown great practical skills throughout, fighting stubbornly even in the worst positions. Her victory in round 9, however, had nothing to do with fighting spirit, as he received a full point after her opponent, Dinara Saduakassova, announced that she would not continue playing due to problems. with its Internet connection. The Kazakhstani lost the last three games of the day and later apologized for the inconvenience on Instagram. She explained:

In the seven games I played, I encountered internet issues, and tried several times, but nothing helped. […] I want to say sorry to all the chess fans and the organizers – they really do a great job.

Polgar 2021 Chess Challenge

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On two occasions, Pragg got in real trouble on Friday, but he nevertheless got 1½ point after these two difficult games to stay at the top of the table. Against Liang, who turned 18 on day two of the event, the Indian prodigy held his own in a position with rook and knight against queen and a dangerous passer on the a roster. Liang hesitated at the time 41:

Now was not the right time for Black to push his passer. Liang 41 … a4 gave way to 42.Re4, the saving movement. Black cannot save his pawn, because the queen also defends the bishop in e7 – 42 … Qa3 43.Nb1 Qd6 44.Rxa4. White’s pieces can now defend his king without worrying about a new queen appearing on the opposite flank. A toss was agreed six moves later.

In the eighth round, it was Nurgyul Salimova who could have ended Pragg’s winning streak:

Whites 43.Bf3 It was a huge blunder, because it allowed 43 … Ng6 and the queen is trapped. Salimova didn’t find the retreat move – a maneuver hard to find in a blitz match, after all – and ultimately lost the game.

Both players in the hunter group have been playing impressive chess throughout. Yesterday we wrote about Yoo, the youngest participant in the field. Today, let’s praise the performance of Abdusattorov. The Uzbek prodigy – who, at 9, defeated two GMs at the Georgy Amazov Memorial – displayed a good mix of technical prowess in calm positions and tactical awareness to find shots when the situation calls for it. .

In the sixth round, he got the better of Danish general manager Jonas Buhl Bjerre. Our in-house specialist Karsten Müller analyzed the end of the game:

Abdusattorov won four and lost one on day two, but could have finished the day with a perfect 5/5 had he made the most of his top position against Leon Mendonca in round 9:

Black has a dominant position with the pair of bishops and a boring pawn in e3. In addition, two white pawns are suspended. The first capture that comes to mind – because she gives a check – was the right way to go: 49 … Bxb5 + 50.Nxb5 Rxb5 and Black has two passers-by connected on Queenside. However, Abdusattorov chose 49 … Kxd4, allowing White to recover with 50.Bc1 Bd7 and 51.Bxe3.

Mendonca would go on to win a 96-stroke victory. Two rounds earlier, the Indian had saved a draw in a delicate final against Zhansaya Abdumalik. Karsten Müller took a closer look:

All the games