Praggnanandhaa, Aryan share lead in U18

India’s R Praggnanandhaa eked out a hard-fought draw while Divya Deshmukh scored a smart victory to stay in the hunt in the World Youth Chess Championship here on Sunday.

GM Praggnanandhaa, playing black, had to be at his defensive best to thwart Iran’s Aryan Gholami in the U18 Open to share the lead with 5 points after Round 6.

In a highly anticipated clash, IM Aryan seemed to have a slight edge as he battled for that crucial point. But GM Praggnanandhaa manoeuvred his pieces smartly to share the spoils after 39 moves.

The country’s other GM, P Iniyan, desperately tried to make the most of his white but was effectively stonewalled by Germany’s Valentin Buckels. After 50 moves, they decided to end their agony by splitting the point. Both are second on the leader-board, trailing by half a point each.

WIM Divya got the better of Liya Kurmangaliyeva of Kazakhstan in the Under 14 Girls to take her tally to 4.5 points to be just half a point behind India’s Rakshitta Ravi, Holland’s Eline Roebers and WFM Ekaterina Nasyrova of Russia.

On an interesting day, all the top seeds, including GM Shant Sargsyan of Armenia (U18 Open), Russia’s Polina Shuvalova (U18 Girls), IM Moke Hans Niemann (U16 Open), WCM Leya Garifullina (U16 Girls), FM Sreeshwan Maralakshikari (U14 Open) and Divya coasted to full points in their respective games.

Shant had a great day at office in the U18 Open, making short work of FM Ramazan Zhalmakhanov of Kazakhstan. He has 4.5 points now along with Iniyan to be back within striking distance.

In the Under 16 Open, Indian hope CM Aronyak Ghosh could only manage a draw against Russian IM Stefan Pogosyan. Ghosh’s position in the middle-game held significant chances for a win. However, a few mistakes towards the later part of the game allowed Pogosyan to escape with a draw.

Thanks to this result, Russian IM Rudik Makarian moved into the sole lead with 5.5 points by beating Iranian FM Arash Daghli.

Key Results:

U18 Open:
Aryan Gholami (IRI, 5) drew with R Praggnanandhaa (IND, 5); Valentin Buckels (GER, 4.5) drew with P Iniyan (IND, 4.5); Viktor Gazik (SVK, 4.5) beat Aditya Mittal (IND, 4); Ramazan Zhalmakhanov (KAZ, 3.5) lost to Shant Sargsyan (ARM, 4.5)

U18 Girls:
Viktoria Radeva (BUL, 4) lost to Polina Shuvalova (RUS, 5)

U16 Open:
Rudik Makarian (RUS, 5.5) beat Arash Daghli (IRI, 4.5); Stefan Pogosyan (RUS, 4.5) drew with Aronyak Ghosh (IND, 5); Turgut  Aydin (USA, 4) lost to Moke Hans Niemann (USA, 5)

U16 Girls:
Mehendi Sil (IND, 4.5) drew with Salonika Saina (IND, 4.5)

U14 Open:
Jiajun Sun (CHN, 4) lost to S Maralakshikari (IND, 5); LR Srihari (IND, 5) beat Alex Kolay (USA, 4)

U14 Girls:
Rakshitta Ravi (IND, 5) drew with Eline Roebers (NED, 5); Anna Lhotska (CZE, 4) lost to  Ekaterina Nasyrova (RUS, 5)