Superbet Chess Classic: Praggnanandhaa lets Gukesh off the hook on a day of draws

Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa missed out on becoming a joint leader at the Superbet Classic chess tournament after settling for a draw against compatriot D. Gukesh in the third round.

After losing to Gukesh in the last Candidates tournament in April earlier this year, Praggnanandhaa had a great opportunity to equalise the score this year but could not find a winning continuation after Gukesh spoiled a drawn endgame.

Superbet Classic Chess: Gukesh draws with Nepomniachtchi, Pragg shares point with Vachier-Lagrave

The Catalan opening saw Gukesh sacrifice a pawn early, and Praggnanandhaa had his share of counterplay on the Queen side.

As things unfolded, Gukesh recovered the pawn with an optical advantage with his Knight against a slightly bad Bishop of Praggnanandhaa.

With the intricacies of the middle game over, Gukesh decided to part with a pawn and reached a Queen and rook endgame that should have been an easy draw but a blunder on his 53rd move saw a forced liquidation leading to a King and pawns endgame.

On another day, Praggnanandhaa may have found the winning continuation to become a joint leader but luck smiled on Gukesh and the game was drawn a few moves later.

For the first time in three days, all the five games in the ten-player double round-robin tournament ended in draws. The other player coming close to a win was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who almost pulled it off against his French teammate Alireza Firouzja.

It was a Berlin defense game wherein Firouzja won the opening battle for the third day running getting a balanced position easily as black.

However, a late error in the queen-less middle game, saw Vachier-Lagrave seize the initiative and it should have been a win that slipped out of hands for the older Frenchman.

With all games ending in draws, the lead positions remained unchanged and Gukesh continued to be at the top of the tables along with Fabiano Caruana of United States who drew a keenly contested game against Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan.

With both leaders on two points, Vachier-Lagrave, Praggnaandhaa, Alireza, Wesley So, Giri and Nepomniachtchi share the third spot on 1.5 points apiece.

Another half point behind is Abdusattorov and Bogdan Daniel with six rounds still remaining in the USD 350000 prize money tournament.

Dutchman Anish Giri played out an easy draw on his 30th birthday against Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi with both players giving nothing away and this was also the first game to end in the day.

Deac Bogdan-Daniel of Romania played out his second draw in the tournament, holding off a slightly worse endgame for more than a couple hours against Wesley So of the United States.

Results Round 3

D Gukesh (Ind, 2) drew with R Praggnanandhaa (Ind, 1.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 1.5 drew with Firouza Alireza (Fra, 1.5); Anish Giri (Ned, 1.5) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (FID, 1.5); Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb, 1) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 2); Wesley So (Usa, 1.5) drew with Deac Bogdan-Daniel (Rom, 1).

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