Praggnanandhaa holds Caruana, Gukesh draws with Giri

BUCHAREST (ROMANIA), July 5: Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa played out a draw with Fabiano Caruana of the United States, while world championship challenger D Gukesh also split points with Dutchman Anish Giri in the eighth and penultimate round of the Superbet Classic chess tournament here.

For the fourth time, the day did not produce a single decisive game and draws on all five boards meant that Caruana kept his slender half point lead going in to the final round in the 10-player round-robin tournament, a part of the Grand Chess tour.

With 5 points in his kitty from eight games, the American continued to be followed by Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh and Alireza Firouzja of France, who all are a half point behind.

Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France share the fifth spot on four points each ahead of Wesley So of the United States, Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan and Giri on 3.5 points each.

Deac Bogdan-Daniel of Romania remains on the bottom of the standings on three points in the USD 350000 prize money tournament.

There was not much excitement from Caruana, who started off with the English opening with white and believed he had semblance of an advantage coming in to the early middle game.

However, on 14 a series of exchanges saw Praggnanandhaa equalise easily and the players landed at a rook and minor piece endgame that was drawn in just 31 moves.

Speaking about his performance in the post-game chat, Praggnanandhaa said    “The games have been exciting, I am disappointed as I missed two chances (against Gukesh and Wesley So) but it happens.”

Giri started off with a Nimzo Indian defense with black and Gukesh sacrificed a pawn in the middle game for piece play. The position offered enough compensation for the Indian and Giri decided against any risks and went for a repetition of the position. It was over in just 30 moves.

So drew with Vachier-Lagrave, who played the white side of an Italian opening.

Results after round 8: Alireza Firouzja (FRA, 4.5) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (FID, 4); Fabiano Caruana (USA, 5) drew with R Praggnaanandhaa (IND. 4.5); Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB, 3.5) drew with Deac Bogdan-Daniel (ROU, 3); D Gukesh (IND, 4.5) drew with Anish Giri (NED, 3.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA, 4) drew with Wesley So (USA, 3.5). (PTI)

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