Candidates Round 9: Vidit defeats Hikaru; Gukesh draws with Pragg - Hindustan Times

Candidates Round 9: Vidit defeats Hikaru; Gukesh draws with Pragg

By, Bengaluru
Apr 15, 2024 10:44 AM IST

Nepo escapes with a draw vs Firouzja; Tan returns to sole lead in the women’s section

India's Vidit Gujrathi landed his second win against Hikaru Nakamura in the Candidates tournament to catch up with the world No 3 on points. With this draw, Hikaru who was just half a point behind the leaders, slipped back. He now finds himself tied on 4.5 points with world No. 2, Fabiano Caruana and Vidit. Ian Nepomniachtchi – the only undefeated player in the tournament so far – continues to lead the event jointly with India’s D Gukesh.

India's Vidit Gujrathi during Candidates tournament
India's Vidit Gujrathi during Candidates tournament

Vidit, who has been having a tough run lately, was up against what Hikaru described as ‘adventurous’ (6…g5) opening right at the outset. The game was quiet for a while and it didn’t seem like Black was doing too badly. Vidit, who had trouble managing his time in earlier rounds, was efficient in his use of the clock this time around. Hikaru went for a couple of costly decisions like 27…Nxe5. Vidit was a pawn-up, and Black’s decision to take it back was a mistake. Vidit scooped up the d-pawn with his knight and uncovered his rook for it to look at Black’s bishop on e5, straight in the eye.

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After 31…Rd3 and 32…Rd6, Hikaru was essentially lost. Vidit managed to spot the excellent 34…Qd7 –which launched the Queen to threaten mate, and Black resigned in the next two moves.

“The big problem is that I didn’t pick a plan quickly,” said the American, after the game. “I spent too much time and then kind of fell apart.”

Nepomniachtchi managed to escape with a draw despite Alireza Firouzja having him on the ropes for a bit. The 20-year-old French-Iranian Grandmaster who finds himself languishing close to the bottom of the standings didn’t seem pleased with himself. “I think I was better for sure, but I don’t know if it was enough. I had a chance for sure…I’m trying to play for a win but when chances come, I take it. Today, I had a chance but I couldn’t find the best win.”

The game between Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa ended in a guarded draw. In their earlier round 2 match-up, Gukesh had defeated his fellow Indian with the Black pieces. Gukesh has had two wins with Black in the tournament, the other one being against Vidit. The 17-year-old who’s in the shared lead in the tournament has shown remarkable composure and maturity to not only see the good days through but also bounce back after a devastating round. Gukesh chose to venture into the Delayed Exchange of the Ruy Lopez with 7.c3 which has rarely been employed before. Both players stayed away from risks and played out a pretty uneventful draw.

Firouzja hits back at chief arbiter for shoe comment

After drawing a game where he had winning opportunities, Firouzja hit back at chief arbiter Aris Marghetis who asked him to wear a different, softer pair of shoes next round onwards. “In the most intense moment, when I was walking during Ian's move, the chief arbiter told me not to walk anymore because my shoes were making a noise on the wooden floor…this was a big distraction for me and I completely lost focus,” Firouzja tweeted.

“Firouzja had a very heavy footfall... I don’t know what word to use; it was stompish, if you will,” said the arbiter. One of the players – Nijat Abasov, had complained to him about the noise, and so he asked Firouzja if he could “spread your walking area” or consider wearing “softer” shoes from the next round onwards.

Round 9 results


Vidit Gujrathi (4.5) beat Hikaru Nakamura (4.5)

Gukesh D (5.5) drew Praggnanandhaa R (5)

Alireza Firouzja (3.5) drew Ian Nepomniachtchi (5.5)

Nijat Abasov (3) drew Fabiano Caruana (4.5)


Humpy Koneru (4) drew Kateryna Lagno (5)

Vaishali Rameshbabu (2.5) lost to Tan Zhongyi (6)

Lei Tingjie (5.5) drew Nurgyul Salimova (4)

Anna Muzychuk (3.5) drew Aleksandra Goryachkina (5.5)

Round 10 pairings


Hikaru Nakamura - Nijat Abasov

Fabiano Caruana - Alireza Firouzja

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Gukesh D

Praggnanandhaa R - Vidit Gujrathi


Kateryna Lagno - Anna Muzychuk

Aleksandra Goryachkina - Lei Tingjie

Nurgyul Salimova - Vaishali Rameshbabu

Tan Zhongyi - Humpy Koneru

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