Candidates 2024, Round 4: Vidit, Humpy lose; Pragg, Gukesh games end in draw

Candidates 2024, Round 4: Vidit Gujrathi and Koneru Humpy lost their respective round four games.

Published : Apr 08, 2024 05:23 IST , NEW DELHI - 3 MINS READ

Hikaru Nakamura and R. Praggnanandhaa in action during the fourth round of the Candidates.
Hikaru Nakamura and R. Praggnanandhaa in action during the fourth round of the Candidates. | Photo Credit: FIDE/Walusza Fotografia

Hikaru Nakamura and R. Praggnanandhaa in action during the fourth round of the Candidates. | Photo Credit: FIDE/Walusza Fotografia

The pairings of the fourth round of FIDE Candidates 2024 pitted ‘underdog’ Indians against three of the potential champions of this 14-round competition. Eventually, after nearly five hours of action on Sunday, an unbeaten D. Gukesh, a resolute R. Praggnanandhaa and a shattered Vidit Gujrathi were left with contrasting thoughts to deal with on Monday, the first rest day.

This was also the first time since the inception of the Candidates in 1950, that three out of four boards featured Indians, all playing black.

As it turned out, facing two-time defending champion Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vidit ended up with a third successive decisive result, unfortunately finishing on the losing side twice in just over 24 hours.

In two drawn encounters featuring Indians, Gukesh did not allow top seed Fabiano Caruana much liberty after Praggnanandhaa chose solidity over surprise against second seed Hikaru Nakamura before their early handshake.


Lowest seed Nijat Abasov continued to gain the respect of the chess elite as he pulled off a third draw in four days after some fine defence against Alireza Firouzja.


Vidit, upbeat after his second-round victory over Nakamura but softened up by Praggnanandhaa in the next, matched Nepomniachtchi’s Ruy Lopez Berlin well. The battle was fought on an even keel until Vidit’s 28th move. However, Vidit’s ‘boxed’ rook on the queen’s side effectively meant he was playing with a major piece less.

The static rook never took any further part in the game as the Russian went on to promote a central pawn to the seventh rank. Vidit resigned when Nepomniachtchi threatened to ‘queen’ the advanced pawn that could only be stopped if  Vidit chose to give up a bishop.

Interestingly, in the last six Candidates competitions, since 2013, the leader after four rounds has gone on to win the title. From 2013 to 2018, Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Sergey Karjakin and Caruana led with three points. In 2023, Nepomniachtchi led with 2.5 and now again Nepomniachtchi, leading with three points, seems to be on the right course in his search for a hat-trick of Candidates titles.

Against Nakamura, Praggnanandhaa showed none of the flamboyance he displayed in the previous two rounds which produced contrasting results. After the opening sequence of Ruy Lopez, Praggnanandhaa played solidly and Nakamura could not get any advantage of sitting behind the white pieces. After a few exchanges, including a rook each, the players repeated the moves. Nakamura called the arbiter and claimed a draw.

Compared to Praggnanandhaa’s miniature 24-move draw, Gukesh played 50 more moves to get a similar result against Caruana, the rating favourite. In fact, from Caruana’s 29th move, Gukesh met the former World Championship runner-up’s fire with fire until the game was drawn in a queen-and-pawn endgame. Though Caruana had an extra pawn in a position where all the action was focused on the kingside, a gallant Gukesh gave nothing away.

Another game that produced a draw in the queen-and-pawn endgame involved Firzouja and Abasov. Optically, Firouzja had reasons to believe that he held an outside chance of winning but in real terms, the position remained equal. All credit to the Azerbaijani for consistently finding the precise continuation that eventually earned him a praiseworthy draw.

The action resumes on Tuesday after a day of rest.

Fourth round results (Indians unless stated):
Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 1.5) drew with R. Praggnanandhaa (2) in 24 moves in Ruy Lopez Anderssen; Ian Nepomniachtchi (FIDE, 3) bt Vidit Gujrathi (1.5) in 44 moves of Ruy Lopez Berlin; Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2.5) drew with D. Gukesh (2.5) in 74 moves of Giuoco Piano; Nijat Abasov (Aze, 1.5) drew with Alireza Firouzja (Fra, 1.5) in 64 moves in Nimzo Indian.
Standings (after four rounds):
1. Nepomniachtchi,
2. Gukesh
3. Caruana
4. Praggnanandhaa
5. Nakamura
6. Firouzja
7. Abasov
8. Vidit
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