15-year-old Praggnanandhaa beat his one year younger rival
Pranesh in Armageddon after exchanging blows in a wild first two games. That
means Praggnandhaa is one of eight players who not only reached the Vidit Chess
Tour quarterfinals but made it into the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Indian
Qualifier. 14-year-old Gukesh also made it through in Armageddon, while
15-year-old Raunak Sadhwani was knocked out by Harsha Bharathakoti. The biggest
seed to fall was Abhijeet Gupta, who was knocked out 1.5:0.5 by 17-year-old
You can replay all the games from the Vidit Chess Tour
knockout stages using the selector below.
And here’s the day’s live commentary from Grandmaster
Srinath Narayanan, who was joined by 2-time Indian Women’s Chess Champion
Bhakti Kulkarni and the irrepressible Adhiban.
In a way the Last 16 was the key round of the Vidit Chess
Tour, since it not only qualified players for the quarterfinals but for a place
in the Indian Qualifier of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The 8 winners
from Thursday will be joined by another 8 players in an event that will
determine two Indian players for a tour event later this year.
Top seed Narayanan S.L., not to be confused with our
commentator Srinath Narayanan…
…made things look easy against bottom seed Sammed Jaykumar Shete,
who went for a fatal pawn grab in their first game.
It was 2:0 for Narayanan after the unfortunate 13.c3? in the
13…Nb3! was essentially game, and match, over.
Other seeds found it much tougher, however, with 31-year-old
second seed Gupta knocked out by 17-year-old Aronyak Ghosh. The youngster found
a nice way to draw an ending two pawns down in the first game and then smoothly
outplayed his more experienced opponent with the white pieces in the next game.
The young talent on display in the tournament is enormous,
and perhaps the most fun match of the day was the clash between 15-year-old
Praggnanandhaa and his 14-year-old rival Pranesh. The first two games simply
had too many complete swings in evaluation to summarise, but after exchanging
wins it was Pragg who took over in Armageddon. Although his conversion was
perhaps not ideal, he never lost control and mate ended the game.
14-year-old Gukesh, who holds the record as the 2nd youngest chess
grandmaster in history after Sergey Karjakin, had a tough battle against
31-year-old Vishnu Prasanna. It wasn’t just the experience of his opponent, but
that Vishnu is his coach. Perhaps that went some way to explaining the amnesty
of a draw offer in the second game.
The computer gives Vishnu an almost +3 advantage (about the
same as a piece) after 29.Rd6, but instead he took a draw that sent the match
to Armageddon. One rash pawn break there from Vishnu allowed Gukesh to take
over and claim victory.
It wasn’t all about the teenagers, since 21-year-old Harsha
Bharathakoti took down 15-year-old Raunak Sadhwani 2:0. The first game featured
a sudden and brutal attack with 25…Rxf2+!
Harsha never lost control in the second game.
The quarterfinals are also best-of-2 games of 15+10 rapid chess, with an
Armageddon decider if required. On paper Praggnanandhaa-Erigaisi looks like the
closest match, after 17-year-old Erigaisi Arjun beat Arjun Kalyan 2:0 in an
eventful Last 16 match.