Julius Baer Challengers: Praggnanandhaa leads; Nihal, Gukesh tied fourth

Praggnanandhaa stretched his winning streak to eight games by beating Carissa Yip (USA), Zhu Jiner (China), Nurgyul Salimova (Bulgaria) before receiving a walkover from Dinara Saduakassova (Kazakhstan).

Praggnanandhaa, winner of the last four rounds on Thursday, added four straight points on Friday before taking a draw to lead with 8.5 points.   -  Special Arrangement

Displaying irrepressible form, R. Praggnanandhaa took a half-point lead after 10 rounds of the 19-round Polgar Challenge, the first leg of the online Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour on Friday.

Praggnanandhaa, winner of the last four rounds on Thursday, added four straight points on Friday before taking a draw to lead with 8.5 points. Top seed Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan) and Christopher Yoo (USA), who shared the lead with the third seeded Indian on Thursday, were in the second spot.

D. Gukesh and Nihal Sarin shared the fourth spot with seven points. Leon Mendonca, the other Indian in the fray, was tied 11th with five points. Nine more rounds remain.

READ| Julius Baer Challengers: Praggnanandhaa stuns Nihal, shares lead

For the second successive day, Team Kramnik and Team Polgar split the points equally to make it 50-50. The top three players continue to be from Team Kramnik.

Praggnanandhaa stretched his winning streak to eight games by beating Carissa Yip (USA), Zhu Jiner (China), Nurgyul Salimova (Bulgaria) before receiving a walkover from Dinara Saduakassova (Kazakhstan), who faced internet connectivity issues. In the day’s final round, Praggnanandhaa drew with Awonder Liang (USA).

What also helped the Indian teenager emerge as the leader was Leon Mendonca’s stunning victory over favourite Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the ninth round.

Second seed Nihal scored three wins and two draws, including one against Gukesh in the 10th round. Gukesh, on the other hand, scored three wins and a draw while his lone loss came against the top seed.