Results followed an expected course with D. Gukesh and Magnus Carlsen setting up their much-awaited quarterfinal clash before R. Praggnanandhaa completed a masterly victory to challenge Arjun Erigaisi for a semifinal spot of the FIDE World Cup chess at Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday.
Riding on Saturday’s victory, Gukesh played solidly with white pieces to pull off a much-needed draw against China’s Wang Hao for a 1.5-0.5 victory. For the second successive day, Carlsen defeated Ukrainian legend Vassily Ivanchuk to show signs of peaking at the right time.
If Gukesh made it following a 31-move deadlock - the shortest game of the day - Arjun needed 12 more moves against Sweden’s Nils Grandelius to draw and advance.
In the last game to finish, playing white, Praggnanandhaa ended Hungarian Ferenc Berkes’ resistance in 49 moves after gaining control on the 21st move. So dominant was Praggnanadhaa’s position that the outcome of the game became a foregone conclusion much before Berkes resigned.
Significantly, the victory saw Praggnanandhaa reach a career-high live ranking of 24 with a live rating of 2720.2 and become the fourth Indian in the elite World’s top 25.
Meanwhile, Vidit Gujrathi and D. Harika drew again with their Russian rivals to book their spots in Monday’s tie-breaker. If Vidit proved equal to fourth seed Ian Nepomniachtchi in 49 moves, Harika matched second-seeded Aleksandra Goryachkina for 60 moves. The winner of the Vidit-Nepomniachtchi clash will take on Azerbaijan’s Nijat Abasov, a 2-0 winner over UAE’s Salem Salah.
Interestingly, an Indian and an American are sure to be in the semifinals after Arjun faces Praggnanandhaa and Fabiano Caruana meets Leinier Dominguez Perez.
Caruana made it past Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda in Sunday’s contest for a 1.5 victory while Dominguez got the draw needed to oust Serbia’s Alexey Sarana by a similar score-line.
The results (involving Indians, prefix denotes seeding)
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