Prague: Keymer traps Vidit’s queen, Pragg beats Abdusattorov

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/5/2024 – An exciting sixth round at the Masters tournament in Prague saw Praggnanandhaa taking down frontrunner Nodirbek Abdusattorov — who remains as the sole leader despite the loss. Parham Maghsoodloo, who entered the round in sole second place, was defeated by Thai Dai Van Nguyen, while Vincent Keymer beat Vidit Gujrathi and Mateusz Bartel got the better of Gukesh. In the Challengers, Ediz Gurel is now the sole leader, as Anton Korobov, who was sharing first place before round 6, was defeated by Maxim Rodshtein. | Photo: Mark Livshitz

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Pragg takes down the leader

The two highest-rated junior players in the world were paired up against each other in the sixth round of the Prague Masters. Nodirbek Abdusattorov came from scoring three wins and two draws to take the sole lead, while Praggnanandhaa had suffered a couple of painful defeats in round 2 and 3 before bouncing back with a win in his game against Vidit.

An intricate battle, emerging from a Ruy Lopez, led to the following dynamically balanced, sharp position.

With a bit over 5 minutes on his clock (and 5 moves to go before reaching the control), Abdusattorov here blundered with 36.Re2, missing Black’s 36...Rxd6, when a queen check from d1 will gain the bishop on d6.

Perhaps already aware of the fact that he had blundered, Abdusattorov first played 37.Re8+, and Pragg showed the line that justifies the whole idea — i.e. 37...Kh7 38.Bxd6+ Bd4 (the key intermediate move, as d1 is now defended by the white bishop on f3) 39.Qxd4 Qxf3

From f3 the queen both threatens mate on g2 and is still capable of giving the check from d1 on the next move: 40.Qf2 Qd1+ 41.Re1 Qxd6 followed.

The time control had been reached, and Pragg had a winning endgame with two minor pieces for a rook. Abdusattorov continued playing until move 56, but could not manage to escape, as Pragg showed his usual technical proficiency until securing the full point.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Vidit’s painful blunder

While Abdusattorov blundered in a balanced position with 5 minutes on his clock, Vidit made a losing mistake from a completely winning position with 15 minutes on his clock and his opponent, Vincent Keymer, struggling to find defensive recourses.

Vidit’s 33.Bb4 failed to address the one counter-attacking idea in the position: 33...Rh7, threatening to give a deadly check from h1.

The problem for White is that there is no way to save his queen — i.e. the most versatile of pieces has no way to escape in a position with reduced material on the board! Placing the queen on the one square not on the first rank (f2) allows checkmate, while 34.Kf2, as played in the game, is anyway followed by 34...Rh1, and there is no escape.

It took a while for Vidit to accept what had just happened, as he sat thinking for a few minutes before resigning the game.

Prague Chess Festival 2024

The playing hall during round 6 | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Nguyen and Bartel stun Maghsoodloo and Gukesh

The two lowest-rated players in this year’s particularly strong field obtained upset victories on Monday. Thai Dai Van Nguyen showed remarkable tactical alertness to take down Parham Maghsoodloo in 32 moves.

White’s king in the centre is actually safer than its counterpart on g8. Black was already in trouble, but Maghsoodloo’s 23...Qc3+ eased Nguyen’s task, as after 24.Kf2 Nf5 25. f4, White is ready to activate his d1-rook on the third rank, with a devastating attack.

It was a memorable victory for the 22-year-old from Prague.

Thai Dai Van Nguyen

Thai Dai Van Nguyen | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Like Nguyen, Gukesh did not castle while playing white — but the approach did not work quite as well, as Mateusz Bartel managed to coordinate his army against the white monarch sitting on the queenside.

Gukesh resigned the game in this position, right after reaching the time control.

All these results left Abdusattorov still in the sole lead, except that there are now three players standing a mere half point behind in shared second place: Maghsoodloo, Pragg and Richard Rapport, who drew David Navara with black in round 6.

Dommaraju Gukesh

Dommaraju Gukesh | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Results - Round 6

Standings after round 6

All games

Challengers: Gurel sole leader as Rodshtein beats Korobov

Similarly to the Masters, 4 out of 5 games ended decisively in the sixth round of the Challengers. Ediz Gurel and Anton Korobov entered the round in shared first place. Gurel signed a 36-move draw with Richard Stalmach, while Korobov blundered in a rook and knight endgame while facing Maxim Rodshtein.

Black is a pawn down, but his active pieces give him great drawing chances (engines evaluate the position as fully balanced). Korobov’s 56...Rd2, however, loses to 57.Nc5, since 57...Rd5 fails to 58.Ne6+

The f-file is covered by the rook on f1, so the king has just three squares to escape the check — going to g6 or h5 allows Nf4+, grabbing the rook, while going to h6 allows Kxg4.

Korobov threw in the towel. Knights are tricky pieces!

Maxim Rodshtein

Maxim Rodshtein | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Sharing second place on 4/5 with Korobov is now Jaime Santos, who grabbed a second consecutive victory in his game against Vaclav Finek.

Erwin l’Ami and Abhimanyu Mishra, who both scored full points with white on Monday, stand a half point further back.

Results - Round 6

Standings after round 6

All games


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.