Praggnanandhaa wins the London Chess Classic FIDE Open 2019
2019 has been a special year for R. Praggnanandhaa. He won the super strong Xtracon Open in Denmark, he became the World Youth Champion under-18, he crossed the live rating of 2600 and now has become the London Chess Classic FIDE Open 2019 champion! More good news? He is not yet finished for the year! He will be taking part in the Sunway Sitges Open 2019 beginning from the 13th of December. Pragg finished the London Chess Classic with a score of 7.5/9 and a rating performance of 2699. He was joined at the top by Anton Smirnov, who also scored 7.5/9. Third place went to Aravindh Chithambaram. Both Sahaj Grover and R. Vaishali had a respectable finish with 6.5/9. Overall a successful event for the Indian players.
Adding another feather to his cap, R. Praggnanandhaa won the London Chess Classic FIDE Open 2019 with a score of 7.5/9 and a rating performance of 2699. He gained 15 Elo points, which takes his live rating to 2601. We still cannot be sure that Pragg will be 2600+ on January 1st when the new rating lists are published, because he will be playing next at the Sunway Sitges Open 2019 in Spain.
After a 6.5/7 score, Pragg faced a tough challenge in the form of Aravindh Chithambaram in round 8. Pragg had the black pieces and after the opening he landed in quite a difficult position. It seemed as if Aravindh would manage to grind down his opponent, but he got a bit greedy and snapped a pawn. This allowed Pragg to equalize with a nice tactic. Check if you can find it?
Aravindh vs Praggnanandhaa, Round 8
Pragg found the nice idea with ...Bxe5! and after Rxe5 Nd7! he attacks the rook on e5 which can no longer defend the knight on b5 and the position peters out into equality.
While this draw helped Pragg to keep his lead, Anton Smirnov won his game against Stephen Gordon and joined Pragg at the top.
The final round witnessed quite a tense atmosphere. On the top board Praggnanandhaa was taking on his compatriot Sahaj Grover, while Smirnov faced Bulgarian IM Martin Petrov. The game between Petrov and Smirnov was very exciting and in the final position the Australian GM could have continued the game with ...Kd8. He agreed to a draw and this allowed Pragg to also make a quick draw against Sahaj and secure the tournament victory.
Final standings after round 9
|3||1||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr||2605||Gurukul||7,0|
|7||7||GM||Grover Sahaj||2508||Port Elizabeth||6,5|
|9||IM||Petrov Martin||2497||Maritza-Iztok Radnevo||6,5|
|10||GM||Gormally Daniel W||2491||4ncl Blackthorne Russia||6,5|
|15||GM||Hebden Mark L||2436||4ncl Guildford||6,5|
|17||IM||Kirk Ezra G||2433||4ncl Cheddleton||6,5|
|19||GM||Cherniaev Alexander||2428||Wood Green||6,5|
|14||6||GM||Fodor Tamas Jr||2533||Cheddleton||6,0|
|8||GM||Gordon Stephen J||2505||3cs||6,0|
|12||GM||Flear Glenn C||2463||Aix-En-Provence||6,0|
|13||GM||Arkell Keith C||2445||Cheddleton 4ncl||6,0|
|16||IM||Pert Richard G||2436||Brentwood||6,0|
|18||IM||Clarke Brandon Gi||2431||Wood Green||6,0|
|20||IM||Merry Alan B||2426||Barbican||6,0|
Gormally vs Aravindh, Round 9
The right move here is to play h3! Just taking care of the backrank weakness and one of the black pieces falls. White wins the game quite easily. Instead, Gormally went Rf6+ Kg8 and f4! White is still better and in fact close to winning, but it gave Aravindh some defensive chances, which he grabbed in the game.