Candidates Round 12: Gukesh in a three-way tie for first place with Nepo and Hikaru - Hindustan Times
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Candidates Round 12: Gukesh in a three-way tie for first place with Nepo and Hikaru

Apr 19, 2024 10:27 AM IST

The 17-year-old Indian used an opening surprise with Black to win against Nijat Abasov; Caruana defeats Vidit to stay half a point off the lead.

India’s D Gukesh is in a three-way tie for first place with Ian Nepomniachtchi and Hikaru Nakamura after Round 12 of the Candidates tournament. Two more rounds remain until the World Championship challenger is decided. Fabiano Caruana who is having a late resurgence, defeated India’s Vidit Gujrathi with the White pieces to find himself half a point off the first place.

India's D Gukesh
India's D Gukesh

Gukesh used a rare and somewhat dubious 4…h6 opening idea in the Nimzo-Indian. His opponent Nijat Abasov was suitably surprised and went into extended periods of thought but still managed to come up with logical moves. The Indian’s plan was clear – to throw off his opponent who hadn’t lost a game with White in the tournament and play for a win. The endgame held drawing chances for Abasov and the Indian was glad that the Azerbaijani didn’t spot it perhaps.

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Gukesh played out his moves quickly while Abasov struggled with time pressure and ended up making a couple of inaccuracies. “He didn’t take pawn (on a3) and after that my knight was active and I was a pawn up,” said Gukesh. “I think it will come down to whoever plays good chess in the last two rounds, manages to remain focused. I feel pretty good physically and mentally. From the start, I’ve been in good shape. I don’t feel any kind of exhaustion.”

Caruana managed to stay in the hunt after an unimpressive start in the tournament. He found a win with White over India’s Vidit Gujrathi. White moved into a small advantage after bringing on the exchange of bishops with 22…Qxe.

After his painful loss in Round 11, the 29-year-old Indian was outplayed by the world No. 2 who is now trying to keep up with the leaders.

“My results have kept me alive, said Caruana after the game, “I started to play better and feel better and started to win some games finally after a long time..every other tournament doesn’t compare to this in pressure and stakes.”

Nakamura defeated Alireza Firouzja with White for his third straight win to join Nepomniachtchi and Gukesh in the lead. While Praggnanandhaa and Nepomniachtchi played out the only draw in the Open section.

Round 12 results

Open

Hikaru Nakamura (7.5) beat Alireza Firouzja (4.5)

Nijat Abasov (3) lost to Gukesh D (7.5)

Fabiano Caruana (7) beat Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (5)

Ian Nepomniachtchi (7.5) drew Praggnanandhaa R (6)

Women

Kateryna Lagno (6) drew Lei Tingjie (7.5)

Anna Muzychuk (4.5) lost to Vaishali Rameshbabu (5.5)

Aleksandra Goryachkina (6) drew Koneru Humpy (6)

Nurgyul Salimova (4.5) drew Tan Zhongyi (8)

Round 13 pairings

Open

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Hikaru Nakamura

Praggnanandhaa R - Fabiano Caruana

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi - Nijat Abasov

Gukesh D - Alireza Firouzja

Women

Nurgyul Salimova - Kateryna Lagno

Tan Zhongyi - Aleksandra Goryachkina

Humpy Koneru - Anna Muzychuk

Vaishali Rameshbabu - Lei Tingjie

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