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Candidates 2024 R2: Praggnanandhaa implodes against Gukesh, Vidit blazes World no.3 Nakamura in 29 moves

by Shahid Ahmed - 06/04/2024

The second round of FIDE Candidates 2024 was an eventful one. All four games ended decisively. R Praggnanandhaa blitzed out his preparation against Gukesh and got himself a good position. Gukesh's first deviation made his opponent think. He made a sound bishop sacrifice but could not follow through. Gukesh regrouped his pieces, consolidated his position and won the game. Speaking of bishop sacrifices, Vidit Gujrathi executed one in the Ruy Lopez against Hikaru Nakamura (USA). The Speed King did not respond well to it and folded in 29 moves. Vidit defeated Nakamura by playing like the streamer. Round 3 starts today at 2:30 p.m. local time, 12 a.m. IST. Photo: Sagar Shah

Decisive games and Bishop sacrifices

Alireza Firouzja (FRA) made an incorrect judgment against Ian Nepomniachtchi in a complex position. He could not get enough compensation for the bishop he sacrificed. Nijat Abasov (AZE) blundered in the final moments against Fabiano Caruana (USA) who mentioned it to be a tough game in a post-game interview.

The photo encapsulates Round 2 perfectly | Photo: Sagar Shah

Praggnanandhaa - Gukesh: 0-1

The head-to-head score between R Praggnanandhaa (2747) and D Gukesh (2743) in Classical games was 4-4 heading into this game. Gukesh has not lost to Praggnanandhaa in a Classical rated game since April 2022. White went for a thematic 13.d5 break in the Catalan.

Position after 13.d5

After 13.d5 exd5 14.e5 is a new move. There are no games on it. 14...Ne8 15.e6 f5 and now Praggnanandhaa started thinking. Gukesh considered both 15...c6 and f5. He opted for the latter in the game. 16.Ne5 Nf6 17.Qc2 f6 18.Qxf5 Qe8 19.Nf7

Position after 19.Nf7

19.Nf7 might look uncomfortable for Black as it seems to be a thorn on the kingside. Yet, computer recommends getting rid of it immediately 19...Rxf7 20.exf7+ Qxf7 and also mentions Black having the clear advantage. Gukesh went with the human 19...Bc8 20.Rfe1 Nb7 even though Black's position looks passive. He is not in any kind of danger.

Position after 23.Bxd5

23.Bxd5 is a sound sacrifice. 23...cxd5 24.Nxd5 Be7 25.Qg4? White needed to follow through correctly. 25...Nd8 26.Nxd8 Bxd8 27.Qd4 Rb7 Black regrouped and consolidated his position and won the game in the next few moves.

The Chennai Banger in Canada - Praggnanandhaa vs Gukesh, Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India
Post-game Press Conference with Gukesh | Video: FIDE

D Gukesh during his pre-game ritual against R Praggnanandhaa | Photo: FIDE/Michal Walusza

Nakamura - Vidit: 0-1

The two Classical rated games played between Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2789) and Vidit Gujrathi (2727) ended in draws. The latest one took place at FIDE Grand Swiss 2023. Vidit won that event and Nakamura finished second. Vidit showed his preparation when he sacrificed his bishop in Ruy Lopez stunning the World no.3.

Position after 11...Bxh3!

11...Bxh3! took Nakamura by surprise. Accepting the sacrifice was the best way to refute it 12.gxh3 Qb8 13.Bf4 Bc7 14.Bh2 Bxe5 15.f4 Bc7 16.Na3 is what White needed to play. Instead, he misplayed 12.Nc4 Bg4 13.Qc2 Bc7 14.e5 Nd7 15.Bxh7+ Kh8 16.Bd3 b5 17.Ne3 Nxe5 18.Be2? f5 19.f4 Bb6 and White is lost positionally.

Position after 19...Bb6

There is not much left for White to do 20.Kf2 Nd5 21.Rh1+ Kg8 22.fxe5 Qg5 23.Ke1 Bxe3 24.Bxg4 Qxg4 25.Bxe3 Nxe3 26.Qe2 Qg3+ 27.Kd2 Rad8+ 28.Kc1 Qg5 29.b3 Nf1+ and White resigned as Ng3 fork is looming large apart from a difficult position.

The Vidit Vlog of beating world no.3 Hikaru Nakamura at FIDE Candidates 2024 | Video: ChessBase India
Crushing world no.3 in 29 moves - Nakamura vs Vidit, Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India
Vidit Gujrathi dissects his win against Hikaru Nakamura at the FIDE Candidates 2024 | Video: ChessBase India
Post-game Press Conference with Vidit Gujrathi - Round 2 | Video: FIDE
A Series of Unfortunate Choices - Analysis by Hikaru Nakamura | Video: GMHikaru

Vidit Gujrathi en route his 29-move crushing victory over Hikaru Nakamura (USA) | Photo: Sagar Shah

Nepomniachtchi - Firouzja: 1-0

The last time Ian Nepomniachtchi (2758) defeated Alireza Firouzja (FRA, 2760) in a Classical rated game was at Sinquefield Cup 2022. Firouzja defeated the former World Championship Challenger, Nepomniachtchi at 86th Tata Steel earlier this year. However, this time Nepomniachtchi prevailed.

Position after 29.Be6

29...g4 is how Black needed to continue. 29...Qg6? gave up the bishop unnecessarily 30.Qxe7 and Black never got enough compensation for it.

Post-game Press Conference with Ian Nepomniachtchi, Round 2 | Video: FIDE
The amazing conversation between Nepo and Firouzja captured at the end of the game - Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India

Alireza Firouzja (FRA) misplayed in a complex position | Photo: FIDE/Michal Walusza
Fabiano Caruana: "It was a tough game..." | Video: FIDE

Fabiano Caruana (USA) had no trouble beating Nijat Abasov (AZE) | Photo: FIDE/Michal Walusza

Spectators watching the game at the venue - The Great Hall in Toronto, Canada | Photo: FIDE/Michal Walusza
Round 2 summary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India

Time control

The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 41.


The total prize fund is €500000. The top three prizes are €48000, €36000 and €24000. All prize money shall be divided equally among the players with the equal score after 14 rounds regardless tie-break results. In addition, each player gets €3500 euros for every half point scored.

Replay Round 2 live stream

FIDE Candidates 2024 Round 2 Live Commentary by Amruta Mokal and GM Harshit Raja | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 2 games

Round 2 results

Round 2 results | Photo: FIDE


Standings after Round 2

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
GMGukesh, DIND27431,51,2510
GMVidit, Santosh GujrathiIND27271,51,2510
GMCaruana, FabianoUSA28031,50,7510
GMNepomniachtchi, IanFID27581,50,7510
GMAbasov, NijatAZE26320,50,7500
GMNakamura, HikaruUSA27890,50,7500
GMFirouzja, AlirezaFRA27600,50,2500
GMPraggnanandhaa, RIND27470,50,2500


Round 3 pairings

Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMGukesh, DGMNepomniachtchi, Ian
GMAbasov, NijatGMNakamura, Hikaru
GMFirouzja, AlirezaGMCaruana, Fabiano
GMVidit, Santosh GujrathiGMPraggnanandhaa, R



Official site

Tournament Regulations

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