India’s chess sensation R Praggnanandhaa finished third but former World Blitz champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave continued his dominance with two more wins to claim the ‘Tata Steel Chess India 2023’ rapid title in Kolkata on Thursday. The Frenchman, who was on his maiden visit to India, finished on top with seven points, way ahead of Azerbaijan’s 2019 World Cup winner Teimour Radjabov (5.5).
Praggnanandhaa finished third along with Vidit Gujrathi and Alexander Grischuk with five points apiece.
The World Cup runner-up Praggnanandhaa secured two wins, but suffered a loss against India No 1 D Gukesh in the most-anticipated battle of the meet.
Praggnanandhaa won a quality game against Gujrathi when the 18-year-old responded well to Gujrathi’s initial attack, securing a pleasant position in the middlegame.
In a fairly equal endgame, Praggnanandhaa capitalised on the chance to attack the king, delivering checkmate on move 38.
In the most awaited contest of the tournament, Gukesh took on Praggnanandhaa in the penultimate round.
Gukesh earned the bragging rights as he overcame the World Cup runner up in a sharp game.
Gukesh’s queen side pawns proved too strong as they marched down the board much quicker than Praggnanandhaa’s central pawn. After winning a rook, Gukesh secured the victory on move 45.
Praggnanandhaa, however, recovered in the final round with a comfortable advantage over reigning rapid champion Erigaisi, after winning material on move 20 by tactical means.
From there on, the World Cup runner up went on to win the game on move 39.
A five-time winner of the Biel Grandmaster tournament, Maxime began the day with a win over India’s Arjun Erigasi.
Maxime then defeated Pentala Harikrishna to clinch the title with a round to spare.
He then signed off with a quick six-move draw against Radjabov.
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