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Praggnanandhaa plays the King's Indian for the first time in his career, moves to 4.0/4 in London

by Sagar Shah - 02/12/2019

The London Chess Classic FIDE Open is an exciting event for Indian fans because of the presence of few of our young stars. And one of them is leading the event with a score of 4.0/4. Praggnanandhaa played some enterprising chess in round 4 against IM Raymond Song, to win his fourth game in a row. With this win, Pragg's live rating has now reached a massive 2593, very close to breaking the 2600 mark. We bring you detailed annotations of his win in the King's Indian Defence, an opening that he played for the first time in his life! Also in the report we have pictures and updates from the venue sent to us by two chess enthusiasts living in London.

Praggnanandhaa on a Song!

When his opponents open with 1.d4 Praggnanandhaa likes to play classical systems like the Queen's Gambit Declined, the Slav, the Nimzo Indian, essentially taking the Nf6, e6, d5 setups, and putting his bishop to b4 sometimes. There was a period back in 2017 where he liked to play Nf6 and g6, but this was a short-lived one and mainly for playing the Grunfeld. However, at the London Chess Classic FIDE Open, the youngster decided to play the King's Indian Defence, for the first time in his life! 

Exploring new avenues - R. Praggnanandhaa at the London Chess Classic Open Round 4 | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

When you play a new opening, you often land in situations where you are not sure what is to be done. This is also what happened with Pragg. He played the King's Indian and very soon reached a position where things were complex and a lot of decisions had to be made on intuition and not calculation. Pragg made some wrong choices and very soon landed in a bad position. But this is the thing about the King's Indian. No matter how lost you are, you always have some attacking chances! While Raymond Song (Pragg's opponent) was winning the battle on the queenside, Pragg waged his own storm on the kingside. Song started to feel the heat and very soon went wrong, giving the full point to his young Indian opponent. With this win Pragg has now moved to a live rating of 2593! Closing in on the 2600 mark!


Raymond Song vs Praggnanandhaa

The first critical position, and the first point in the game that Pragg went wrong. Here Black should try to consolidate himself with Nh6-f7 before going for the ...f5 break. However, Pragg went for an immediate ...f5. This was not a good idea, because White is ahead in development and to open up the position in such a scenario is quite dangerous.

Here White should have taken on f5 with exf5. After gxf5 Re1, I would say White's position is very pleasant. It is difficult for Black to know for sure, how exactly he should continue as the structure in the centre seems to loose. Raymond, instead of taking on f5, played Rc1?! This is just what Pragg wanted and he pushed on with f4!? The plan was simple. To run down the pawns and hope for a mate!

Pragg didn't play in the best possible manner and his kingside attack has gone nowhere. White on the other hand has been able to bring his knights in a way that they breathe heavily on Black's queenside structure.

Pragg switches to practical mode and pushes his h-pawn down the board, not caring for the c6 pawn. if he tries to defend his queenside weaknesses, he would anyway lose and so he does what every King's Indian Defence player has done in his life - swindle your opponent!

Black has a powerful tactic here. Can you find it?

Here Black could have taken on h2 with Rxh2+ After Kxh2, Qh5+ Kg2 comes the very important move Rf8! While I am sure this is something that Pragg would have seen, what he must have missed is that after Rxf2 Black needs to follow up with Rh8! and now there is no way to prevent a mate on h1 or h2. White has to give up his rook with Rf7+ and after Black picks up the rook, he has a better position with excellent attacking chances.

...Qf3+! was a nice touch by Pragg here. Sometimes when you are attacking you tend to forget that going into an endgame is also an option! Nothing of that sort happened with Pragg.

The attack continued even after the exchange of queens and Black very soon won a piece!

The secret of Pragg's energy - Banana! | Photo: Pranav Vaidya

If you would like to learn the King's Indian Defence from Black, you can consider getting yourself the following resources from the ChessBase India shop:

The top seed of the event Aravindh Chithambaram was held to a draw by Martin Petrov and is in joint second position with 3.5/4 | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

Sahaj Grover drew his game against Alexander Cherniaev and is on 3.5/4 | Photo: Pranav Vaidya

After losing her first round Vaishali has come back strongly and is now on 3.0/4 | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

Varsha Ramesh, daughter of GM Ramesh and WGM Aarthie is on 2.0/4 and already gaining 62 Elo points | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

Sohum Lohia, who represents England but hails from an Indian background, is on 1.5/4 | Photo: Pranav Vaidya

Standings after round 4

Praggnanandhaa leads the event along with a fellow prodigy Anton Smirnov from Australia and experienced Daniel Gormally.

Rk.SNo NameTypsexRtgClub/CityPts.
13GMPraggnanandhaa RU182586None4,0
4GMSmirnov AntonU182573None4,0
10GMGormally Daniel W24914ncl Blackthorne Russia4,0
41GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr2605Gurukul3,5
7GMGrover Sahaj2508Port Elizabeth3,5
8GMGordon Stephen J25053cs3,5
9IMPetrov Martin2497Maritza-Iztok Radnevo3,5
13GMArkell Keith C2445Cheddleton 4ncl3,5
15GMHebden Mark L24364ncl Guildford3,5
17IMKirk Ezra G24334ncl Cheddleton3,5
19GMCherniaev Alexander2428Wood Green3,5
71CMMakkar RajatU182125Cannes3,5
132GMMoussard Jules2600Asnières3,0
5GMMaze Sebastien2541None3,0
6GMFodor Tamas Jr2533Cheddleton3,0
11IMSong Raymond2468None3,0
12GMFlear Glenn C2463Aix-En-Provence3,0
16IMPert Richard G2436Brentwood3,0
20IMMerry Alan B2426Barbican3,0


The entrance of the London Chess Classic which is held at the Olympia | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

The elite event of the London Chess Classic, which will begin from the 2nd of December, is also part of the Grand Chess Tour and will have Carlsen, Aronian, Ding Liren and MVL fighting it out for the Grand Chess Tour 2019 title | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

Quality Chess' "The Anand files" has just been released. It will be available in India soon! It deals with the inside stories of three World Championship Matches of Vishy Anand 2008-2010 and 2012 | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

Aravindh with the mother of Pragg Nagalakshmi | Photo: Tulsivrunda Vaidya

If you ever visit the London Chess Classic you will find chess just about everywhere! | Photo: Pranav Vaidya

About the photographers:

All the photos in this report have been made available by Tulsivrunda and Pranav Vaidya. They are chess lovers living in London. Originally from Pune in India, Tulsi and Pranav's son Raghav is a budding chess talent. They are regular readers of ChessBase India newspage and it is wonderful to have them contributing to our articles!

Pranav Vaidya showing his clicks to Aravindh and his son Raghav

Tulsivrunda Vaidya (right) along with Nagalakshmi

The Vaidya family with the author of these lines in 2019