Precisely a week after breaching the coveted 2700-mark in live rating, R. Praggnanandhaa won the Geza Hetenyi Memorial chess title in Budapest on Wednesday.
In this strong 10-man round-robin tournament, with an average rating of 2669, Praggnanandhaa scored 6.5 points from nine rounds to finish a point ahead of Russian Sanan Sjugirov and Iran’s Amin Tabatabaei.
In the final round, Praggnanandhaa played with white pieces against Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek - Viswanathan Anand’s former ‘second’ - and drew in 63 moves to claim the title at the Danubius Hotel Astoria City Center.
In a field with an averaging rating of 2669, the 17-year-old fifth-seeded Indian won the first four rounds before losing to Tabatabaei. He won the sixth round and drew the last three to perform at 2833, way above his starting rating of 2690.
With a gain of 17.30 points, Praggnanandhaa’s live rating has moved to 2707.30 and placed him at a career-high ranking of 31.
In the second round, Praggnanandhaa’s victory over Iran’s sing star Parham Maghsoodloo saw him become the eighth Indian to reach a rating of 2700 and beyond. He joins Anand, K. Sasikiran, P. Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B. Adhiban, D. Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi in the list.
In the words of Anand, “I have thought of Pragg as basically a 2700-player for a while, in the sense that he competes quite well in tournaments against them, you know, beaten Ding Liren (the current World champion), things like that... but sometimes these things take some time to come together. Recently, his form has been very impressive, so maybe he’s just in that phase.”
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