R Praggnanandhaa at the Tata Steel Chess India Blitz 2023; Image: X/@ChessbaseIndia
Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa strung together five wins in a row on the opening day of the 'Tata Steel Chess India Blitz 2023' to lead the field with 6.5 points here on Friday.
The 18-year-old Praggnanandhaa, who finished joint third in the 'Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2023' on Thursday, won the first five rounds on Friday before his winning run was halted by Alexander Grischuk.
The Russian Grandmaster held Praggnanandhaa to a draw in the sixth round after which, the India suffered successive defeats in the seventh and eight rounds before regrouping to win the final round of the day, defeating country-mate Arjun Erigaisi.
Praggnanandhaa is followed closely by Vidit Gujarathi and Grischuk with six points after nine rounds.
Erigaisi and D Gukesh are at 4.5 points each.
Praggnanandhaa defeated Azerbaijani GM Teimour Radjabov in the opening round of the day, before winning convincingly against rapid champion, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France.
Praggnanandhaa, who finished as runner-up recently at FIDE World Cup, played a near flawless game, launching an attack against Vachier-Lagrave king. The Indian sealed the game in 47 moves.
In round 3, the Indian defeated German GM Vincent Keymar with the game decided in the rook endgame after Praggnanandhaa managed to win two pawns, following which Keymar resigned.
The Indian continued his unbeaten streak with a win over Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan followed by victory over Indian GM Harikrishna Pentala in 34 moves.
After a draw against Grischuk in an 86-move battle, Gujrathi halted Praggnanandhaa's undefeated run with a clutch victory. The Indian suffered another setback as he went down to Gukesh in the eighth round.
But Praggnanandhaa was quick to regroup and scored a fine victory over GM Erigaisi. Praggnanandhaa's extra pawn in the endgame proved to be decisive as he went on to win in 45 moves. PTI AM AM ATK ATK
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