New in Chess Classic: Radjabov tops the standings

by Klaus Besenthal
4/25/2021 – The preliminaries of the New In Chess Classic, the fifth event of the Champions Chess Tour, kicked off on Saturday. The most successful player on day 1 was Teimour Radjabov, who scored 4 out of 5 points. Second place is shared by Alireza Firouzja and Magnus Carlsen with 3½/5 each. The aim of the preliminaries is to find out which 8 (out of 16) players move on to the knockout stage. Expert analyses by GM Karsten Müller. | Photo: FIDE

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Pragg impresses

Newcomers often have a hard time in this kind of tournament. That’s what happened to the Norwegian Johan-Sebastian Christiansen, for example, as he was not able to score a single point on the first day of the New In Chess Classic.

On the other hand, 15-year-old Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa, who recently earned his place in the tournament by winning the Polgar Challenge, has already shown that he can fight neck in neck with the big names on the first day: he currently shares fourth place with Vidit, Aronian and Nakamura!

The youngster’s victory over former World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin almost felt like an official change of guard.

Praggnanandhaa R (2608) - Karjakin,Sergey (2757)
New in Chess Classic 2021 (5), 17.04.2021

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Nc3 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Ne5 Nbd7 12.Bf4 Re8 13.Rc1 Nf8 14.Nb5 Ne6 15.Nc6 Qd7 16.Nxe7+ Rxe7 17.Nc3 Nxf4 18.gxf4 


The position is better for Black as he has somewhat better prospects for his minor pieces, and he can also allow himself to eventually look for c7-c6.

18...a5 [Perhaps somewhat better was the direct 18...c6]

19.e3 Ba6 20.Re1 Rd8 21.Rc2 g6 22.Qd2 h5


Black’s pawn pushes on the edges of the board seem to have made little difference.

[Good was 22...Ne4]

23.Rec1 h4 24.h3 Qf5 25.Na4 Rdd7 26.Qd1 Kg7 27.Nb2 Kh6 28.Rc6 Bb5 29.R6c2 Ba6 


Remarkable: Karjakin’s ‘draw offer’ to young Pragg!

30.Kh2 And he doesn’t want it!

30...Kg7 31.Bf1 Bxf1 32.Qxf1 Ne4 33.Rc6


After the exchange of bishops, this troublesome rook tries to infiltrate.

33...Kf8 34.Nd3 f6 35.R1c2 Ke8 36.Qg2 Nd6 37.Ne5!? 


A strong piece! Objectively speaking, White doesn’t achieve anything with this move, but in a rapid game Black will need to spend a lot of energy to ward off the speculative attack.

37...fxe5 38.dxe5 Ne4

[Interesting here was the counterattack with 38...d4 39.exd6 dxe3]


39.Rxg6 Kd8 40.Rg8+ Re8 41.Rxe8+ Kxe8 42.Qg8+ Qf8 43.Qe6+ Kd8 44.Qc6 Nc5 45.Rc1 d4 46.Rg1 


In any case, the white piece sacrifice was correct as there is sufficient compensation. At the same time, it is Black who constantly has to ward off threats — and now he falters.

46...d3? The losing move.

[Correct was 46...Ke7! and, for example, 47.Qf3 d3 48.f5 d2 49.f6+ Ke8 50.Qh5+ Kd8 51.Qf3 Ke8 52.Qh5+=]


47.Rg8 Qxg8 48.Qa8+ Ke7 49.Qxg8 Rd8


[49...d2 50.f5 Ne4 51.Qg7+ Ke8 52.Qh8+ Ke7 53.Qxh4+ Ke8 54.e6 also loses.]

50.Qg7+ Ke6 51.f5+ Kd5 52.e6



And who knows, maybe the affectionate nickname Pragg is already a kind of anticipated accolade for the 15-year-old. After all, other great players also get their names shortened: Naka and Nepo, Vishy and Shak!

But you might have achieved even more if an opening variation bears your own name — or a certain type of endgame! Fischer and Petrosian have achieved the latter, as has Capablanca. And now Karsten Müller shows us the ‘Carlsen endgame’.


And finally, an endgame victory by Wesley So also caught the attention of our expert. The position showcases ‘the power of the queen’.


Endgames of the World Champions Vol. 2 - from Steinitz to Spassky

Enjoy Capablanca's fine technique, Tal's magic, Lasker's fighting spirit, Petrosian's defensive skills, Smyslov's feeling for harmony, and Alekhine's and Spassky's flair for the attack.

Standings after Round 5


All games



Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.


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