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Gukesh takes sole charge after outsmarting Alireza

Vaseline 2 months ago

Toronto, April 21: Teenage Indian Grandmaster D Gukesh shot into the sole lead after defeating Firouzja Alireza of France in the 13th and penultimate round of the Candidates Chess Tournament here. His quest for the extraordinary placed him on the cusp of the youngest ever world championship contender.
If the 17-year-old from Chennai emerges victorious in the Candidates, he will face China’s Ding Liren for the title of world champion.
In the women’s race, Humpy Koneru drew with Anna Muzychuk, while Vaishali Rameshbabu prevailed over Lei Tingjie. The 22-year-old Vaishali has now recorded four straight wins in her last four matches.
Gukesh needed a win to progress after the other overnight leaders, Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi and American Hikaru Nakamura, played out a quick draw. Gukesh was rewarded for his perseverance as he took advantage of a late Alireza blunder in a difficult situation.
Gukesh took his total to 8.5 out of a possible 13 points, putting him half a point ahead of Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana of the United States.
R Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi share fifth place with six points each, Firouzja at 4.5 and Abasov has 3.5 points.
Of the three players in the chase, Caruana defeated Praggnanandhaa in a hard-fought match, while Gujrathi could only manage a draw against Azerbaijan’s Nijat Abasov.
Gukesh will next meet Nakamura who plays white in the final round and Caurana will have the advantage of the favorable suit against Nepomniachtchi.
While anyone among the four players can win the event, the odds are hugely in Gukesh’s favor as experts believe a draw could just be enough to see him emerge as the youngest-ever contender for the World Cup match.
In the women’s race, Zhongyi Tan took a full point lead over his nearest rival and compatriot Tingjie Lei after drawing with Russia’s Aleksandra Goryachkina.
R Vaishali spoiled the party for Lei by recording a fine victory, while Koneru Humpy and Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria drew with Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine and Kateryna Lagno of Russia respectively.
Just a draw away from taking the crown, Lei is in second place with 7.5 points.
Goryachkina, Lagno, Humpy and Vaishali are at 6.5 points and share third place, while Salimova and Muzychuk share seventh place with five points each.
After a rather subdued 7th to 9th round where she lost three in a row, Vaishali continued her demolition campaign to take her fourth win on the trot.
The Indian has a chance to finish in the top three if she can get another win in the final round. Vaishali meets Lagno and Goryachkina takes on Salimova. Zhongyi Tan has her job to do against Muzychuk, while Tingjie has a tough nut to crack in Humpy. (PTI)