Candidates Chess | Gukesh to clash with Alireza on what promises to be a photo finish

With 7.5 points in his bag, Gukesh shares the lead with Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia

Published - April 20, 2024 02:54 pm IST - Toronto

A file photo of D. Gukesh

A file photo of D. Gukesh | Photo Credit: PTI

Teenaged Indian Grandmaster D Gukesh will have his task cut out against Firouza Alireza of France in the penultimate round of the Candidates' chess tournament, on what promises to be a photo-finish here.

Gukesh, with his last white game, will improve his chances greatly in the tournament if he can get past Alireza, who has clearly been struggling.

With 7.5 points in his bag, Gukesh shares the lead with Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.

Just two rounds are remaining in the biggest event of the year.

The most important clash of the penultimate round will be between Nepomniachtchi and Nakamura. The latter has been displaying top form having won three in a row while Nepomniachtchi is the only player in the tournament who has remained undefeated after 12 gruelling games.

Apart from these three, Fabiano Caruana is the only player who has a chance to win the event.

With seven points, thus far, the American will have to tackle a tough opposition in R Praggnanandhaa of India and finally Nepomniachtchi in the last round.

Even Gukesh has a tough opponent to deal with in Nakamura in the final round and much will depend on how he does against the world number three.

Praggnanandhaa had shown signs of a podium finish mid-way through the tournament but could not quite end up where he wanted to.

However, the Indian has displayed great promise and it is only a matter of time before he can be in the top five of the world ranking or even more. Currently Praggnanandhaa has six points.

Another Indian Vidit Gujrathi had a promising start and his two victories against Nakamura in the tournament stand out as his best efforts.

Nerves, however, played some part along with time pressure on certain occasions and the Indian will have to wait for another chance.

It has been a tough call for Alireza, who has just 4.5 points while Abasov, on three points, is at the bottom of the table.

In the women's section, Zhongyi Tan is in the front on eight points and her nearest contender is compatriot Tingjie Lei, who is a half point behind.

The two leaders are followed by Russian duo of Aleksandra Goryachkina and Kateryna Lagno along with India's Koneru Humpy on six points apiece.

R Vaishali on 5.5 points comes in next, a full point ahead of Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine and Nurgyul Salimovaa of Bulgaria.

Pairings of round 13 (Indians unless specified)

Vidit Gujrathi (5) vs Nijat Abasov (AZE, 3); D Gukesh (7.5) vs Firouza Alireza (FRA, 4.5); R Praggnanandhaa (6) vs Fabiano Caruana (USA, 7); Ian Nepomniachthi (FID, 7.5) vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 7.5).

Women: Zhongyi Tan (CHN, 8) vs Aleksandra Goryachkina (FID, 6); Koneru Humpy (6) vs Anna Muzychuk (UKR, 4.5); R Vaishali (5.5) vs Tingjie Lei (CHN, 7.5); Nurgyuaal Salimova (BUL, 4.5) vs Kateryna Lagno (FID, 6).

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