Gelfand Challenge: Praggnanandhaa wins five in a row, shares lead

He registered wins over second seeded Nihal Sarin, Zhu Jiner, Leon Mendonca, Vincent Keymer and Jonas Buhl Bjerre for a share of the lead with top seeded Nodirbek Abdusattarov.

R. Praggnanandhaa climbed from the fifth place to the top spot with five consecutive wins on Friday at the Gelfand Challenge.   -  Special Arrangement (File Photo)

Making up for a slow start, a determined R. Praggnanandhaa won all five rounds on Friday to share the lead after 10 rounds of Gelfand Challenge online rapid chess tournament.

Overnight in the tied fifth spot, the 15-year-old seemed to have pushed the reboot button by stunning his second seeded compatriot Nihal Sarin. He went on to account for Zhu Jiner (China), teammate Leon Mendonca, Vincent Keymer (Germany) and Jonas Buhl Bjerre (Denmark) for a share of the lead with top seeded Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattarov at eight points.

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D. Gukesh also recovered from the first-day blues and the loss in the sixth round scoring four straight wins. He now shares the third spot with Keymer and first-day leader Awonder Liang, who lost three successive games.

Nihal, however, had another poor day. After losing to Praggnanandhaa, Nihal drew with Bjerre, lost to China’s Lei Tingjie, scored over Zhansaya Abdumalik before being held by the World junior girls champion Polina Shuvalova (Russia).

Like Nihal, Mendonca too could add just two points on the second day and shared the 12th spot with two others at 4.5 points. Nine more rounds remain.

The results (involving Indians):

10th round: R. Praggnanandhaa bt Jonas Buhl Bjerre (Den); Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iri) lost to D. Gukesh; Nihal Sarin drew with Polina Shuvalova (Rus); Leon Mendonca drew with Lei Tingjie (Chn).

Ninth round: Praggnanandhaa bt Vincent Keymer (Ger); Gukesh bt Awonder Liang (USA); Bjerre drew with Mendonca; Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kaz) lost to Nihal;

Eighth round: Mendonca lost to Praggnanandhaa; Nurgyul Salimova (Bul) lost to Gukesh; Nihal lost to Lei Tingjie;

Seventh round: Praggnanandhaa bt Zhu Jiner (Chn); Gukesh bt Olga Badelka (Blr); Bjerre drew with Nihal; Mendonca lost to Keymer;

Sixth round: Nihal lost to Praggnanandhaa; Keymer lost to Gukesh; Zhu Jiner lost to Mendonca.

Leading standings (including Indians, after 10 rounds): 1-2. Nodirbek Abdusattarov (Uzb), R. Praggnanandhaa (8 points each); 3-5. Vincent Keymer (Ger), D. Gukesh, Awonder Liang (USA) (7 each). 11. Nihal Sarin (5), 14. Leon Mendonca (4.5).

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