Praggnanandhaa’s potential comes to the fore in World junior chess championship.

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R. Praggnanandhaa never ceases to surprise. The ease with which the 14-year-old sacrifices his rooks for bishops, like he did during his wins in the second and fourth rounds of the World junior chess championship, underline his deep reading of the given positions.

After being shockingly held by England’s Ravi Haria in the morning round, Praggnanandhaa unleashed a rare twin rook-sacrifice before putting the finishing touches with his queen and bishop-pair to end Mongolian Dambasuren Batsuren’s resistance in 44 moves.

With seven of the top eight boards ending in draws, Praggnanandhaa joined Ukraine’s Evgeny Shtembuliak and Spain’s Ruiz Miguel Santos in the lead at 3.5 points from four rounds.


In fact, the double-round day saw the stronger players recover in varying degrees from the setbacks of the last two days. There was also an unusual ‘walkover’ from the 11th seeded Iranian Aaryan Gholami when pitted against Israel’s Alexander Zlatin in the fourth round. Since there have been many occasions in chess a contest between players of these two countries have remained non-starters, Gholami took nothing to chance and even produced a medical certificate to prove his ‘indisposition’.

Among the girls, Arpita Mukherjee blew away a golden chance to win and take the lead against teammate N. Priyanka but settled for a draw.

Altantuya ahead

Earlier, Mongolian Boldbaatar Altantuya took the lead with four straight wins. The victorious Rakshitta Ravi (3.5) moved to the joint second place while Praggnanandhaa’s sister R. Vaishali (3), seeded five, was held by Russia’s Elizaveta Solozhenkina. Vantika Agarwal and Divya Deshpande drew; so did Mrudul Dehankar to reach three points.

Important results:

Open: Fourth round: Ruiz Miguel Santos (Esp, 3.5) drew with Evgeny Shtembuliak (Ukr, 3.5); Semen Khanin (Rus, 3) drew with M. Karthikeyan (3); Shant Sargsyan (Arm, 3) drew with Ravi Haria (Eng, 2); R. Praggnanandhaa (3.5) bt Dambasuren Batsuren (Mgl, 2.5); P. Iniyan (3) drew with Zhandos Agmanov (Kaz, 3); Dmitrij Kollars (Ger, 2.5) drew with Sammed Shete (2.5); Aronyak Ghosh (2.5) drew with Harsha Bharathakoti (2.5).

Third round: Haria (2.5) drew with Praggnanandhaa (2.5); M. Karthikeyan (2.5) bt Aaryan Varshney (2); R.K. Srihari (2) drew with Kollars (2): Vid Dobrovoljc (Slo, 1.5) lost to P. Iniyan (2.5). Aditya Mittal (2) bt Arno Sterck (Bel, 1); Aravindh Chithambaram (1.5) bt Amir Ghaazi Mohd Saprin (Mas, 1).

Girls: Fourth round: Boldbaatar Altanutuya (Mgl, 4) bt Michelle Katkov (Isr, 3); N. Priyanka (3.5) drew with Arpita Mukherjee (3.5); Elizaveta Solozhenkina (Rus, 3) drew with R. Vaishali (3); Vantika Agarwal (3) drew with Divya Deshmukh (3); Mrudul Dehankar (3) drew with Gabriela Antova (Bul, 3); Rakshitta Ravi (3.5) bt V. Toshali (2.5).

Third round: Dinara Dordzhieva (Rus, 2) lost to Priyanka (3); Mrudul (2.5) drew with Rakshitta (2.5); Arpita (3) bt Marian Avetsyan (Arm, 2); Vaishali bt Saloni Sapale (1.5); Divya (2.5) bt G. Harshita (1.5).