Grandmaster and World Cup silver medallist R. Praggnanandhaa was held to a draw by compatriot Aryan Chopra, while D. Gukesh signed peace out of a theoretical opening against Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan in the first round of the FIDE Grand Swiss that got underway here.
Chopra is another young Grandmaster who hails from Delhi and is trying to make a mark in the international circuit.
Playing the black side of a Slav defence against someone who is, by consent, one of the best talents in the world, Chopra fought valiantly and held on to his own in a finely-paced game.
Praggnanandhaa traded queens early in the opening, dented the black’s pawn structure a bit, and even stood slightly better for quite some time.
However, the position was always closer to a draw, and a flurry of exchanges led to an equal, opposite-coloured Bishops endgame. The game was drawn after just 33 moves.
Gukesh never got a chance against Mamedov who is known as a theoretician.
Playing the black side of a Sicilian Scheveningen, the Indian Grandmaster went for the Scheveningen setup and Mamedov went for an old variation that is solid in nature.
Against strong players, it is not easy to win with black if they are not trying to win as white, is the mantra that goes around and that was the true case for Gukesh as, after a mere 23 moves, the players repeated the position and signed peace.
Meanwhile, top seed Fabiano Caruana of the United States scored a victory with black pieces against Ivan Saric of Croatia, showcasing some fine understanding of a lesser-known opening system. Saric sacrificed a rook for a knight in the early middle game but never got enough compensation.
Arjun Erigaisi came up with a splendid show to beat Frederik Svane of Germany. Arjun was simply on a roll with white in a Queen’s Gambit declined game and annihilated the opponent’s defence with a timely exchange sacrifice to win in 37 moves.
In the women’s event being held simultaneously, Savitha Shree came up with strong resistance to beat Marsel Efroimski of Israel.
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