Norway Chess: Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa Leading Opening Round

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Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa won traditional time control games to take a 1.5-point lead in the Norway Chess tournament.

Norway Chess: Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa Leading Opening Round 
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In the Armageddon game, Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa defeated France’s Firouzja Alireza in the opening round of the Norway Chess competition.

Although the classical time control game was drawn, Praggnanadhaa, who was using white pieces and had 10 minutes to Alireza’s 7 minutes, won the endgame.

The men’s and women’s classical games all ended in draws, forcing six Armageddon games to decide the winners.

In just 14 moves, world champion Ding Liren and world number one Magnus Carlsen drew their traditional game. This was followed by a 68-move draw in the Armageddon. In their Armageddon match, Hikaru Nakamura won over fellow American Fabiano Caruana.

Praggnanandhaa, Carlsen, and Nakamura are tied for the lead after the first round with 1.5 points each, while Alireza, Liren, and Caruana are behind by half a point. This special format awards three points for a win under classical time control, 1.5 points for the Armageddon winner, and one point for the loser.

It was Praggnanandhaa’s first comprehensive victory over the French player, Alireza. Alireza made a careless move on the 26th, which gave Praggnanadhaa a small lead in an unstable queen pawn opening. The Indians won the game in 38 moves after making a number of forced movements that gave them a clear lead.

Three draws occurred among the six contestants in the women’s division, which carries the same prize money (USD 161000) as the men’s division. Koneru Humpy easily earned 1.5 points in the Armageddon, needing only a draw with black pieces.

Despite putting on an impressive show with black against China’s Wenjun Ju, the women’s world champion, R Vaishali was unable to convert her opportunities. Vaishali’s endurance carried her through a laborious queen and opposite-colored bishops endgame, which, thanks to her perseverance, finished in a draw after 80 moves. Wenjun gave up a pawn too early in a scenario where winning was essential in Armageddon, and Vaishali held the extra pawn for a while until giving in to pressure and losing in 43 moves.

China’s Tingjie Lei triumphed over Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk in the other women’s game, taking the Armageddon with black pieces.

Results Round 1:

Men: Ding Liren (Chn, 1) lost to Magnus Carlsen (1.5); R Praggnanandhaa (Ind, 1.5) defeated Firouzja Alireza (Fra) 1.5-1. 1-1.5; Hikaru Nakamura (U.S., 1.5) defeated Fabiano Caruana (U.S., 1).

Women: Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 1) lost to Tingjie Lei (Chn, 1.5) 1-1.5; Pia Cramling (Swe, 1) lost to Koneru Humpy (Ind, 1.5) 1-1.5; and Wenjun Ju (Chn, 1.5) defeated R Vaishali (Ind, 1) 1.5-1.

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