Nepo wins marathon game vs Vidit to take sole lead after Round 11 - Hindustan Times
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Nepo wins marathon game vs Vidit to take sole lead after Round 11

By, Bengaluru
Apr 18, 2024 12:19 PM IST

Nakamura jumps to second place after win over Pragg, Gukesh draws with Caruana

The Candidates tournament is now on its home stretch and the standings are in flux. India’s D Gukesh had to be content with a draw against Fabiano Caruana with the White pieces after falling dangerously low on time in Round 11. The other two Indians in the fray – R Praggnanandhaa, and Vidit Gujrathi lost their respective games to slip behind in the standings.

The Candidates tournament is currently in full flow.(Michal Walusza/Fide)
The Candidates tournament is currently in full flow.(Michal Walusza/Fide)

Two-time Candidates winner Ian Nepomniachtchi showed just why he thrives in this tournament – wringing out a win with Black in the endgame after surviving two lost positions in a marathon against Vidit Gujrathi. The result saw the Russian move into sole lead in the tournament. In an endgame where White saw its King stranded in the corner of the board, as opposed to it ideally being centralised, Vidit would come to rue both missing out on multiple winning chances and his decision to push for a decisive result. The Indian handed the two-time World Championship challenger a fresh chance at striking for a win when he refused to settle for a draw in a position that looked fairly equal. By the end of the game which lasted close to six hours and 67 moves, Nepo walked away with a turnaround and a win and Vidit now finds himself pretty much out of contention for the title.

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Hikaru Nakamura joined Gukesh in second place with 6.5/11 after defeating Praggnanandhaa with Black. Much like Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa too ran critically low on time and Nakamura managed to keep up the pressure. The Queenless middlegame was complex territory and the American spotted 29…Nd5+, going on to convert an edge into an important win. “I have a lot of experience in this tournament,” Nakamura said after the win, “The way to play this tournament is to play solid, play good moves and not go crazy. Considering where I was after two rounds when I started, I’m pretty happy.”

Caruana appeared somewhat relieved with the drawn result against Gukesh, particularly since his opponent had managed to create a decent position with a tiny advantage. “I had a slightly worse position throughout the game, so I can’t be upset,” the world No. 2 American said after the game, “The main thing is if I lose then I’m completely out of it and depending on the other results draw can be reasonable. It’s not a bad result. The main thing was not to lose and I can’t say I’m disappointed since I didn’t get any winning chances…It was a weird game.”

Round 11 results

Open

Praggnanandhaa R (5.5) lost to Hikaru Nakamura (6.5)

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (5)lost toIan Nepomniachtchi (7)

Gukesh D (6.5) drew Fabiano Caruana (6)

Alireza Firouzja (4.5) drew Nijat Abasov (3)

Women

Tan Zhongyi (7.5)beat Kateryna Lagno (5.5)

Humpy Koneru (5.5) beat Nurgyul Salimova (4)

Vaishali Rameshbabu (4.5) beat Aleksandra Goryachkina (5.5)

Lei Tingjie (7) drew Anna Muzychuk (4.5)

Round 12 pairings

Open

Hikaru Nakamura Alireza Firouzja

Nijat Abasov - Gukesh D

Fabiano Caruana - Vidit Santosh Gujrathi

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Praggnanandhaa R

Women

Kateryna Lagno - Lei Tingjie

Anna Muzychuk - Vaishali R

Aleksandra Goryachkina - Humpy Koneru

Nurgyul Salimova - Tan Zhongyi

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