Prague: Abdusattorov scores, Gukesh escapes

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/6/2024 – Nodirbek Abdusattorov bounced back from his round-6 loss by beating Vincent Keymer at the Masters section of the Prague Chess Festival. Thus, Abdusattorov continues to be the sole leader with two rounds to go. Parham Maghsoodloo got the better of Vidit and now stands in sole second place. In the all-Indian confrontation between Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh (pictured), the latter escaped with a draw in a 91-move game. Meanwhile, Anton Korobov caught Ediz Gurel in the lead of the Challengers. | Photo: Petr Vrabec

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Refusing to capture a pawn

Right after losing to Praggnanandhaa — and remaining in the sole lead despite the loss — Nodirbek Abdusattorov faced yet another fellow elite junior opponent, German star Vincent Keymer. An imbalanced position was reached in a difficult-to-evaluate middlegame, as Keymer refused to grab a pawn twice, on moves 22 and 23.

Surely, going for 22.Rxf5 is scary, as White would further weaken his structure while creating a semi-open e-file with his king still in the centre. However, capturing the pawn was still a better move than Keymer’s 22.Kd1.

Moreover, after 22...h6, retreating with 23.Rg1 (instead of grabbing the pawn, again) leaves Black in a superior position.

Abdusattorov increased his advantage quickly, as Keymer was in deep time trouble already. By move 30, things looked grim for White.

Black restored the material balance with 30...Nxe4. And more importantly: White will have a lot of trouble trying to get counterplay with his uncoordinated pieces. Abdusattorov continued to make progress until Keymer resigned the game on move 38.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Nodirbek Abdusattorov signing autographs after round 6 | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Gukesh saves a half point

Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh, aged 18 and 17 respectively, are set to participate in their first Candidates Tournament next month. In their direct confrontation in the Czech capital, Pragg got an edge with white in the early middlegame — a good handling of the strategic advantage allowed him to eventually reach a superior rook endgame with two connected passers on the queenside.

Defending this position with black requires precision and a bit of luck, though the drawish tendency of rook endgames surely gave Gukesh hopes of escaping with a half point.

A few inaccurate moves by Pragg allowed his compatriot to showcase his great technical knowledge.

Gukesh’s 49...h4 is the only move that keeps the balance here. What justifies the defensive idea is that Black can give up all three of his pawns on the kingside for White’s b and c-pawns, entering a rook ending with f and h-pawns against a well-positioned king — i.e. a draw.

And that is the setup that appeared on the board on move 60.

With this escape, Gukesh stopped the bleeding, as he came from suffering two losses in a row, while Pragg failed to score a third consecutive full point and keep up the pace with the tournament leader.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa taking a stroll | Photo: Petr Vrabec

Two more games ended decisively in round 7, with Thai Dai Van Nguyen grabbing his second win in a row by beating Richard Rapport and Parham Maghsoodloo bouncing back from his loss against Nguyen with a win over Vidit.

Vidit’s queen got trapped for a second day in a row.

26...Nf6 was the losing mistake, as White now counts with the sneaky 27.Bc1, threatening to trap the queen eventually with g3-g4.

After 27...h6, Maghsoodloo played the correct follow-up — 28.Re4 (diagram), since the direct 28.g4 would allow 28...Nxg4 29.hxg4 Qxg4+, with a winning attack for Black.

Vidit has nothing better than 28...Nxe4 29.Rxe4 g5 30.g4 Qxh4 31.Nxh4 gxh4

Black does have a rook and a knight for the queen, but White has a strong initiative and is vastly better coordinated. Vidit resigned after seeing 32.Bxh6 played on the board.

Maghsoodloo, who stands in sole second place a half point behind the leader, is set to face Abdusattorov with the black pieces in Wednesday’s penultimate round.

Prague Chess Festival 2024

The playing hall in Prague | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Results - Round 7

Standings after round 7

All games

Challengers: Korobov catches Gurel

Four games ended decisively for a second day in a row in the Challengers section. While sole leader Ediz Gurel held a draw with the black pieces against Jaime Santos, Anton Korobov bounced back from his loss on Monday by beating Vaclav Finek in 81 moves.

Korobov got to play a good-looking rook sacrifice against his young Czech opponent.

58.Rxh7+ is not mate in a few moves, but with the bishop standing strong on the b3-g8 diagonal, the sacrifice is more than justified. White is winning.

There followed 58...Kxh7 59.Rg3 g5 60.fxg6+ Kg7 61.Qh5 Qh8 62.Qf5 Re7 63.Rh3

Black is now forced to give up his queen with 63...Qxh3, since, for example, 63...Qd8 fails to 64.Rh7+ Kf8 65.Qxf6+ Ke8 66.g7, and mate is coming soon.

After Black gave up his queen, Korobov made a few inaccuracies during the conversion of his advantage, but nonetheless managed to get the win that allowed him to return to shared first place in the standings.

Korobov will play black against Santos on Wednesday, while Gurel will get the white pieces against the ever-dangerous Erwin l’Ami.

Anton Korobov

Anton Korobov | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Results - Round 7

Standings after round 7

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.