Praggnanandhaa wins Xtracon Open 2019

by Shahid Ahmed
7/31/2019 – India's wunderkind 13-year-old GM R Praggnanandhaa started out Xtracon Open 2019 as the 21st seed, scored an unbeaten 8½/10 at a performance rating of 2741, to win the tournament convincingly. He finished a half point ahead of the pack of five players who were all higher rated than him. Norwegian no.3 GM Aryan Tari scored 8.0/10 and finished 2nd, while Armenian GM Gabriel Sargissian finished 3rd according to their tie-break scores respectively.

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Praggnanandhaa made a hard fought draw in the last round against GM Samuel Sevian of USA in marathon game of 73 moves where the majority of the game was an endgame. Pragg was worse throughout the game and showed some fantastic defensive skills to hold a nearly lost queen ending. This crucial half point helped him to win the biggest tournament of his chess career.

Pragg showed his indomitable spirit in the final round, fought hard to secure a draw | Photo: Xtracon official site

The 'Golden Siblings' of India, WGM R Vaishali (left) and GM R Praggnanandhaa (right) along with their mother Nagalakshmi (centre) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

IM Sagar Shah interviews Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali at the conclusion of the tournament

Player info

Name R Praggnanandhaa
Title GM
Starting rank 21
Rating 2540
Rating national 0
Rating international 2540
Performance rating 2741
FIDE rtg +/- 28,5
Points 8,5
Rank 1
Federation IND
Ident-Number 0
Fide-ID 25059530
Year of birth 2005
Rd. Bo. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res.
1 21 205   Kittilsen Sigurd 1894 NOR 5,0 w 1
2 20 110   Madsen Michael B. 2133 DEN 6,0 s 1
3 18 68 FM Buchal Stephan 2260 GER 5,5 w 1
4 14 44 FM Malmstig Erik 2357 SWE 6,5 s 1
5 4 8 GM Tari Aryan 2620 NOR 8,0 w ½
6 3 2 GM Korobov Anton 2687 UKR 7,5 s 1
7 2 11 GM Vocaturo Daniele 2612 ITA 7,5 w 1
8 1 12 GM Andersen Mads 2605 DEN 7,5 s ½
9 2 10 GM Karthikeyan Murali 2613 IND 7,5 w 1
10 1 4 GM Sevian Samuel 2667 USA 8,0 s ½

With a performance of 2741, Pragg delivered his career best

Pragg's first big win came against GM Anton Korobov in round six. In a game arising out of Nimzo-Indian Defence, it seemed equal even util the liquidation into a same-color bishop ending. However, Korobov made an unforced error. 

 

Here is the entire game annotated by IM Sagar Shah:

 

Pragg en route his victory against Vocaturo | Photo: Xtracon official site

In round seven, Pragg defeated Italy's no.1 GM Daniele Vocaturo. Pragg played the Sicilian Maroczy Bind and won his game with ease.

 

In round nine, Pragg defeated the silver medalist GM Murali Karthikeyan in the recently concluded Asian Continental 2019.

Pragg opts for 1.Nf3 against Murali | Photo: Xtracon official site

 

Here are a few video analysis of Pragg's games by IM Sagar Shah:

Korobov vs Pragg, round 6

Pragg vs Vocaturo, round 7

Pragg vs Murali, round 9

Aryan Tari should have gone all-in in the last round against Allan Stig | Photo: Xtracon official site

 

This was the chance Tari needed to take which could have made him the champion. Find the winning continuation for white. The only reason he might have not continued with the attack could be that he was low on time, even then the knight sacrifice needed to be justified.

 

Generally in a Swiss league tournament, it is almost rare to see a battle between the eventual champion and a runner-up of the tournament. However, Xtracon 2019 witnessed the battle between Pragg and Tari in as early as round five.

Pragg vs Tari was definitely as expected | Photo: Xtracon official site

 

3rd seed Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia finished in 3rd place | Photo: Xtracon official site

Here is Pragg's final round game against Samuel Sevian:

 

In round 3, Vaishali defeated Sevian with some sharp play in a complex game.

 

The move 26.e5 was played on intuition

 

Vaishali became over ambitious and played 30.f5, however there was a better move for white. Can you find it?

 

When you get a position like that, you know that you have to bring the full point home.

 

In round 6, Vaishali beat Johan Salomon (2514) of Norway, however she missed a simpler win.

Norwegian GM Johan Solomon (2514) was Vaishali's second victim among the GMs | Photo: Xtracon official site

 

Here Black opted for 32...Qd3. However, there was a continuation for Black which could have led to a quicker finish. Can you find it?

 

In the final round, Vaishali was in a must-win situation to secure her maiden GM-norm.

 

Photo Gallery

The Norm makers | Photo: Xtracon official site

GM-norms: WGM R Vaishali and IM Kassa Korley
IM-norms: FM Jonas Roseneck, FM Anders Hobber and CM Bharath Subramaniyam H (although Bharath has already fulfilled all requirements to become an IM)
WGM-norm: WIM Elena Tomilova 
WIM-norm: Monika Machlik

IM Kassa Korley (DEN) poses with the latest New in Chess magazine gifted by the organizers | Photo: Xtracon official site

Final standings on display through a projector | Photo: Xtracon official site

Team India bonding together at the prize giving | Photo: Xtracon official site

 

Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 R Praggnanandhaa 8,5 55,0
2 Tari Aryan 8,0 57,0
3 Sargissian Gabriel 8,0 54,5
4 Postny Evgeny 8,0 53,5
5 Sevian Samuel 8,0 53,5
6 Rasmussen Allan Stig 8,0 52,0
7 Kryakvin Dmitry 7,5 57,5
8 Svane Rasmus 7,5 55,5
9 Korobov Anton 7,5 55,5
10 Grandelius Nils 7,5 54,5
11 Hammer Jon Ludvig 7,5 53,5
12 Vocaturo Daniele 7,5 53,5
13 Andersen Mads 7,5 53,0
14 Kollars Dmitrij 7,5 52,5
15 R Vaishali 7,5 52,0
16 H Bharath Subramaniyam 7,5 52,0
17 Karthikeyan Murali 7,5 52,0
18 Holm Kristian Stuvik 7,5 49,0
19 Moiseenko Alexander 7,5 49,0
20 Hauge Lars Oskar 7,5 49,0

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Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.
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