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Hou Yifan Challenge Day 1: Praggnanandhaa makes a blazing start 5.0/5

by Shahid Ahmed - 19/09/2021

Praggnanandhaa emerged as the early sole leader 5.0/5 at the conclusion of the first day of Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour Hou Yifan Challenge. He defeated Balaji, Vaishali, Jiner, Sokolovsky and Tingjie. We got an answer of what happens in a tournament when the strongest Indian young siblings face each other. Kramnik Challenge winner Vincent Keymer is a full point behind at 4.0/5, followed by Christopher Yoo and Leon Mendonca at 3.5/5 each respectively. Tour debutants Aditya Mittal made a good start 3.0/5 and Vaishali scored 2.5/5. Although Vaishali played only four games so far. Round 6 starts today at 7:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Amruta Mokal

80% decisive games

The first day of Hou Yifan Challenge witnessed only eight games out of 40, ending in a draw which means 80% games ended decisively. It shows that young players play more decisively.

Praggnanandhaa won all five games on Day 1 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Round 1: Balaji - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

IM Balaji Daggupati (USA) tried to unsettle Pragg's king early in the game.

Position after 17.Nf5

17.Nc6 was a better alternative for White. 17.Nf5 does no harm as 17...exf5 18.Bd6 Ne4 19.Bxe7 Kxe7 20.Bxd5 Rb8 21.f3 Ndf6 22.fxe4 f4 and Black is doing fine.

Position after 35.Rd5

Offering a rook exchange in the endgame was not a good idea for White as the resultant bishop vs. knight minor piece ending is in Black's favor. 35.Rd2 Ne5 36.Be2 and White has chances to hold the position.

Jiner - Aditya: 0-1

WGM Zhu Jiner (CHN) did not respond correctly to Aditya's onslaught on her kingside.

Position after 21...h4

22.Bd3 is a plausible reply because taking on h4 seems to be playing into Black's hand. 22...Bxh4 23.f4 only creates further trouble for White. Find out the winning plan for Black.

Sokolovsky - Leon: 0-1

Leon started his day with a win over FM Yahli Sokolovsky (ISR).

Position after 39.Qb3

39.Kc2 would have been much safer for the white king. 39.Qb3 put White in jeopardy. Leon found the correct plan here, try to find the same.

Round 2: Leon - Tingjie: 1-0

Leon avenged his loss from the event as he beat GM Lei Tingjie (CHN), scoring his second consecutive victory of the day.

Position after 20...Rfd8

Black has all its pieces on the queenside, leaving the king unguarded. Find out the correct plan for White to launch an attack here.

Aditya - Sokolovsky: 1-0

IM Aditya Mittal beat FM Yahli Sokolovsky after he blundered a mate in two in a sharp, topsy-turvy battle.

Praggnanandhaa - Vaishali: 1-0

Pragg got a better position out of the opening. He had no trouble converting his advantage into a win against his sister IM Vaishali.

Round 3: Vaishali - Garifullina: 1-0

Vaishali seized her opportunity when her opponent WGM Leya Garifullina made a mistake.

Position after 19...Be7

Find out why 19...Be7 is a mistake.

Jiner - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Jiner could not thwart Pragg's attack.

Position after 26...e4

Things started falling apart for White after 26...e4 as Praggnanandhaa scored his third win in a row.

Liang - Leon: 1-0

Leon was in driver's seat in the middlegame against GM Awonder Liang.

Position after 21.Kg2

21...Nd3 followed by Bc5 seems to be a good way to continue for Black. White managed to fight back and eventually turn things around to win the game.

Round 4: Aditya - Liang: 0-1

Aditya got himself a very good position. Later he got a tactical opportunity in the endgame.

Position after 26...Rxf4

27.Rxe7+ Kf6 28.Nxd6 Nxe7 29.Nxc8 Nxc8 30.d6 Na7 31.d7 Nc6 32.d8=Q+ Nxd8 33.Rxd8 is winning for White. The game continued 27.Rf1 and eventually the game ended in a draw.

Praggnanandhaa - Sokolovksy: 1-0

Sokolovsky made an incorrect sacrifice to launch an attack, but it backfired him.

Position after 22...Ne4

22...Ne4 is a blunder. 22...Nd7 would have been a better attempt to generate some kind of attack.

Balaji - Vaishali: 0-1

Vaishali made a nice timely exchange sacrifice against Balaji.

Position after 25.Be3

25...Rxe3 is absolutely correct and necessary exchange sacrifice as Black gets to control all the dark squares and White has no answer to it.

Round 5: Tingjie - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Praggnanandhaa showed fantastic play in the endgame by marching his from f8 to d2 to win the game against Tingjie.

Kiolbasa - Leon: 0-1

Leon finished the day with a nice victory over WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa (POL).


Some interesting finishes from Day 1

WGM Jiner Zhu (CHN) lost to IM Aditya Mittal, Round 1

FM Yahli Sokolovsky (ISR) lost to GM Leon Luke Mendonca, Round 1

GM Leon Luke Mendonca defeated GM Tingjie Lei (CHN), Round 2

GM Tingjie Lei (CHN) lost to GM R Praggnanandhaa, Round 5

Replay the Live stream

Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour: Hou Yifan Challenge Day 1 - Live commentary by GM Arturs Neiksans and WFM Ellen Nilssen | Video: chess24

Replay all games from Round 1-5

Standings after Round 5

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
117GMPraggnanandhaa RIND2617Kramnik5,00,056,50
212GMKeymer VincentGER2607Polgar4,00,047,50
311IMYoo Christopher WoojinUSA2466Kramnik3,50,037,50
414GMMendonca Leon LukeIND2536Kramnik3,50,034,50
58IMMurzin VolodarRUS2513Polgar3,01,029,00
615IMAditya MittalIND2453Polgar3,00,024,50
713GMMishra AbhimanyuUSA2517Kramnik2,50,023,75
83WGMVaishali RIND2414Kramnik2,50,023,25
97GMLiang AwonderUSA2590Polgar2,50,017,50
1016IMTeclaf PawelPOL2543Kramnik2,50,014,75
114WGMZhu JinerCHN2455Polgar2,01,022,00
121WGMGarifullina LeyaRUS2409Polgar2,00,020,50
136GMLei TingjieCHN2505Kramnik1,50,014,00
149WIMKiolbasa OliwiaPOL2376Kramnik1,01,011,00
1510IMMammadzada GunayAZE2459Polgar1,00,012,50
165FMSokolovsky YahliISR2416Kramnik0,50,001,25
172FMDaggupati BalajiUSA2442Polgar0,00,000,00



Every day between 18th and 21st September, the game starts at 7:30 p.m. IST.

Hou Yifan Challenge will have 17-rounds | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour schedule | Photo: Champions Chess Tour


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