Praggnanandhaa wins, joins Aryan in lead in WYCC
India’s hopes in the Under-18 Open brightened as R Praggnanandhaa outclassed compatriot P Iniyan in the highly anticipated battle between two Indian Grand Masters in the World Youth Chess Championship here on Wednesday.
Playing black, Iniyan opted for the Pirc Defence which was easily countered by Pragg, forcing him into inaccuracies in the opening itself. Pragg kept increasing his advantage with every move and duly emerged victorious on move 38.
With this crucial win, Pragg joined Iran’s IM Aryan Gholami in the lead after the latter was made to settle for a draw by Indian IM Mitrabha Guha in 38 moves. Top seed GM Sargsyan Shant of Armenia kept himself in the hunt by crushing George Stoleriu of Romania in 37 moves.
Top seed of U18 Girls WIM Polina Shuvalova (Russia) was held to a draw by WIM Vantika Agrawal. However, a draw on board two between Anna Afonasieva and Lara Schulze meant that Polina retained her pole position on the leaderboard with a score of 6.5 points.
Meanwhile, untitled R Abinandhan’s dream run continued in the Under-14 Open as he stormed into the lead with 7 points. The 55th seed outwitted compatriot FM LR Srihari in a Queen’s Gambit game to coast to a 40-move win. Aydin Suleymanli (Armenia) slipped to the second place with 6.5 points, after having to settle for a draw against Marc Morgunov of Austria. Top seed S Maralakshikari was in the next lot after yet another draw.
In the Under-14 Girls, WIM Rakshitta Ravi (6.5 points) and Russia’s Ekaterina Nasyrova drew their game, thus holding on to their lead. They were joined by untitled Dutch Eline Roebers who also drew her game against Hakobyan Astghik of Armenia. Top seed WIM Divya Deshmukh was withing striking distance of the leaders but shockingly lost to compatriot Sarayu Velpula. The latter overcome a rating difference of more than 600 points en route to this massively important win.
In the Under-16 Open, USA’s IM Hans Niemann continued his fine form by convincingly beating Miguel Soto Angel of Colombia. This was his third win on the trot. Hans is followed closely by Russian IM Rudik Makarian who scored a crucial victory over untitled Ukrainian Olexiy Bilych. Indian CMs Aronyak Ghosh and Kushagra Mohan are jointly placed third with 6 points apiece.
Round 8 in U16 Girls proved to be an extremely explosive one as only 1 (!) of the top 15 games ended in a draw, including the top three battles in the section. In the encounter of the top two seeds, WCM Leya Garifullina notched an important victory against WFM Govhar Beydullayeva to move to a resounding 7/8. She was joined by 4th seed WFM Nazerke Nurgali who beat Ciolacu Alessia-Mihaela on the top board.