Praggnanandhaa closes in on gold at World Youth chess championship

R. Praggnanandhaa clinched an impressive win over Lithuanian Paulius Pultinevicius and inched closer to under-18 gold in the World Youth chess championship.

Vantika Agarwal rekindled India's hopes of a medal in the girls’ under-18 section by beating 10th seeded Chinese Yan Tianqi.   -  Special Arrangement

R. Praggnanandhaa held yet another master-class in end-game skills leading to an impressive win over Lithuanian Paulius Pultinevicius and inched closer to the under-18 gold medal in the World Youth chess championship here on Friday.

In the 10th and penultimate round, the second seeded teenager won in 63 moves. At 8.5 points, Praggnanandhaa holds a half-point lead over top seed Shant Sargsyan.

Vantika Agarwal (7.5) rekindled the home hopes of a medal in the girls’ under-18 section by beating 10th seeded Chinese Yan Tianqi. She goes into the final round trailing the Russian leader Polina Shuvalova by half a point.

Another Indian medal prospect was Aronyak Ghosh in the under-16 section. In the shortest game of the day, Ghosh and Kushagra Mohan drew in just 18 moves. Ghosh, at 7.5 points shared the second spot with Arash Dagli behind leader Rudik Makarian (8).

In girls’ under-14, the top two seeds Divya Deshmukh and Rakshitta Ravi drew to reach seven points and share the fifth spot. Much will depend on the pattern of Saturday's results on the leading boards for India to add to its medals tally in this section.

In under-14, R. Abinandhan kept India’s medal-hope alive after reaching 7.5 points for a share of the second place. In the last game to finish, Abinandhan and Aditya Samant were locked in a 107-move draw.

Important 10th round results (Indians unless stated):

Under-18: R. Praggnanandhaa (8.5) bt Paulius Pultinevicius (Ltu, 6.5); Mitrabha Guha (6.5) lost to Shant Sargsyan (Arm, 8); Aryan Gholami (Iri, 7.5) bt Aditya Mittal (6.5); Viachaslau Zarubitski (Blr, 6) lost to Arjun Kalyan (7); Om Khalrola (6) drew with P. Iniyan (6).

Under-16: Hans Moke Niemann (USA, 7) lost to Arash Daghli (Iri, 7.5); Rudik Makarian (Rus, 8) bt G. B. Harshavardhan (6.5); Aronyak Ghosh (7.5) drew with Kushagra Mohan (7); Moksh Doshi (6.5) drew with Raja Rithvik (6.5).

Under-14: Aydin Suleymanli (8) drew with Vo Pham Thien Phuc (7.5); L.R. Srihari (7.5) drew with Marc Mogunov (Aut, 7.5); Aditya Samant (6.5) drew with R. Abinandhan (7.5); Jakub Chyzy (Pol, 6) lost to M. Sreeshwan (7).

Girls’ Under-18: Lara Shulze (Ger, 6.5) lost to Polina Shuvalova (Rus, 8); Vantika Agarwal (7.5) bt Yan Tianqi (Chn, 6.5); Alexandra Obolentseva (Rus, 7) drew with Zala Urh (Slo, 7); Aashna Makhija (6) lost to Assel Afonasieva (Rus, 6.5).

Girls’ Under-16: Zhang Xiao (Chn, 7) drew with Leya Garifullina (Rus, 8); Nazerke Nurgali (Kaz, 8.5) bt Laman Hajiyeva (Aze, 6.5); Saina Salonika (7) drew with Kamaliya Bulatova (7); Svitlana Demchenko (Can, 6) v Mrudul Dehankar (6); Savitha Shri (6) lost to B. Mounika Akshaya (7).

Girls’ Under-14: Eline Roebers (Ned, 7.5) lost to Bat-Erdene Mungunzul (Mgl, 8); Ekaterina Nasyrova (Rus, 7.5) bt Ayan Allahverdiyeva (Aze, 7); Rakshitta Ravi (7) bt Divya Deshmukh (7); Bhagyashree Patil (7) bt Dhyana Patel (6).