Just when it seemed R. Praggnanandhaa would have another excellent day on the chessboard — something he has got used to over the last few months — Vincent Keymer made him pause.
In the third-round clash between the two hugely talented teenagers, in the Open rapid section of the Tata Steel Chess India tournament, the German prevailed to move into the joint lead at the end of the first day at the National Library on Tuesday. He is sharing the top spot with first seed Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and D. Gukesh.
They have two points apiece, half-a-point more than Praggnanandhaa, Russian Alexander Grischuk and Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan. Six rounds remain.
Praggnanandhaa, playing his first event in India after his stunning show at the Chess World Cup in Baku, had begun with a win with black pieces against Radjabov and then held Vachier-Lagrave to a draw. There are, of course, enough rounds left for him to bounce back.
Gukesh, also playing his first tournament in India after crossing a milestone (he broke into the World top 10 and replaced Viswanathan Anand as the India No. 1) defeated compatriot Harikrishna and drew with Abdusattorov and Grischuk.
Arjun Erigaisi, who won a title in both his previous appearances here, must have beenrelieved to end the day with a victory over Harikrishna, after losing his first two games.
The results (third round, Indians unless specified): Vidit Gujrathi 1 lost to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra); D. Gukesh 2 drew with Alexander Grischuk (FIDE) 1.5; Arjun Erigaisi 1 bt P. Harikrishna 0.5; Teimour Radjabov (Aze) 2 bt Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb) 1.5; R. Praggnanandhaa 1.5 lost to Vincent Keymer (Ger) 2.
Second round: Vachier-Lagrave drew with Praggnanandhaa; Keymer lost to Radjabov; Abdusattorov bt Arjun; Harikrishna lost to Gukesh; Grischuk drew with Gujrathi.
First round: Grischuk drew with Vachier-Lagrave; Gujrathi drew with Harikrishna; Gukesh drew with Abdusattorov; Arjun lost to Keymer; Radjabov lost to Praggnanandhaa.