Updated March 1st, 2024 at 18:21 IST

India No.1 Praggnanandhaa suffers a major setback in Prague Masters Chess tournament

Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa blundered for the second day in a row, losing to Romanian Richard Rapport in the third round of the Prague Masters.

R. Praggnanadha in action | Image:Image: X
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Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa blundered for the second day in a row, losing to Romanian Richard Rapport in the third round of the Prague Masters Chess Tournament. After surpassing Viswanathan Anand and becoming the top Indian on the live rating list, this twin blow cost the Indian dearly, and much work left in the final six rounds of the 10-player round-robin battle.

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Not the day for Pragg

It was full of drama, since Praggnanandhaa was not the only one who blew his chances. Nodirbek Abdusattarov of Uzbekistan turned the tables on local hero David Navara, who failed to maintain his confidence after achieving a winning position.

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The all-Indian duel between Vidit Gujrathi and D Gukesh ended in a stalemate with neither player able to force matters, while overnight sole leader Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran was held to a draw by top German Vincent Keymer.

In the other game of the day, Nguyen Than Dai Van of Czech Republic defeated Mateusz Bartel of Poland from what was a complicated endgame.

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Meanwhile, in another news coming in from Shenzen in China, Arjun Erigaisi become the new India number one defeating Xiangyu Yu of China in the first round of the Shenzen Masters.

As things stand here, Abdusattarov joined Maghsoodloo in the lead on 2.5 points out of a possible three and the two are now trailed by Gukesh and Rapport with 2 points apiece. Gujrathi stands at fifth spot with 1.5 points, a half point ahead of Praggnanandhaa, Navara, Dai Van and Keymer. Bartel, with just a half point, is at the bottom of the table.

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It was simply not Praggnanandhaa's day. The Indian did everything right except going past the finish line in his game against Rapport. The Hungarian-turned-Romanian is known for his uncompromising style and off-beat openings. The King's Indian was no exception as Rapport chose something uncommon at this level and Praggnanandhaa made rapid progress in the centre before launching a king-side attack.

Rapport was looking quite lost at one point in the middle game but hung in there till the Indian faltered. The game changed quickly thereafter as Rapport found some study-like defense and romped home.

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Gukesh could not make much headway with his white pieces against Gujrathi out of a Berlin defense game. The middle game saw routine exchanges and the players quickly arrived at a minor pieces endgame that was just level.

Results round 3 (Indians unless stated): Vincent Keymer (Ger, 1) drew with Parham Maghsoodloo (Iri, 2.5); R Praggnanandhaa (1) lost to Richard Rapport (Rou, 2); Nodirbek Abdusattarov (Uzb, 2.5) beat David Navara (Cze, 1); Mateusz Bartel (Pol, 0.5) lost to Nguyen Thai Dai Van (Cze, 1); D Gukesh (2) drew with Vidit Gujrathi (1.5).  

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(With inputs from PTI)

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Published March 1st, 2024 at 18:21 IST