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Gukesh storms back, Pragg moves to joint third

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WARSAW, May 10: World Championship challenger D Gukesh bounced back from a sedate start to defeat compatriot R Praggnanandhaa and Germany’s Vincent Keymer before holding world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen after round six of the Superbet rapid and blitz tournament here on Friday.
However, Praggnanandhaa produced a strong fifth round, defeating Holland’s Anish Giri and he followed it with a win over Keymer in the sixth round.
Norway’s Carlsen shares the lead with Wei Yi of China with eight points apiece while Praggnanandhaaa and Shevchenko share the third spot on seven points each.
Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan, Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi are joint fifth on 6 points, a full point ahead of local star Duda Jan-Kryzstof.
With four points, Keymer is in ninth spot in the $175000 prize money tournament, a point clear of Giri.
However, the dream run of Romanian Kirill Shevchenko was ended by Erigaisi, who scored his first victory in the event.
Starting with losses in the first two rounds followed by a lone draw, Gukesh showed pluck to prevail over Praggnanandhaaa in the fourth round in 41 moves.
The middle game arising out of a double fianchetto by white did not offer much scope for Gukesh and his position worsened as Praggnanandhaaa launched a King side attack by advancing his pawns.
The pressure was immense on both and despite getting close to a winning position Praggnanandhaaa could not keep his nerves and let Gukesh come back strongly.
In the next round, Praggnanandhaa was on target with some difficult moves to grind down Giri in just 21 moves out of an irregular Queen pawn game.
Giri fell prey to a brilliant rook manoeuvre and blundered early.
Gukesh made most of the chances to crush Keymer who played white. The tactical complications led to a wild position in the middle game wherein Keymer found his king going for a long walk.
It was hard to recover for him from there and Gukesh finished the game with a queen sacrifice.
Arjun was on the receiving end in the day’s opener against Duda, but then came up with an exemplary game to outplay Shevchenko.
In the last game of the day, Arjun played out a draw with Abdusattorov, keeping himself within striking distance of the leader’s pack.
Carlsen remained solid to score one win and two draws for the second day running, The victory over Abdusattorov in the fifth round reminded everyone of Carlsen’s superior skills in grinding down a rival while against Gukesh he missed a promising continuation before signing peace.
Wei Yi was the star of the day scoring three victories on the trot to join Carlsen in the lead.
Starting off with a win against Giri, the Chinese wrapped it up against Duda before handing Shevchenko his second defeat of the day.
Standings after round 6 Rapid: 1-2. Carlsen, Wei Yi 8 points each; 3-4. Shevchenko, Praggnanandhaa 7 points each; 5-7: Abdusattorov, Gukesh, Arjun 6 points each; 8. Duda 5 points; 9. Keymer 4 points; 10. Giri 3 points. (PTI)

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