Dominant show between Praggnanandhaa and Nakamura at chess world Cup.
CHESS WORLD CUP: Praggnanandhaa exerted pressure on Nakamura which proved too much for the American.
A day after turning 18, R. Praggnanandhaa extended the celebration by nailing second seed Hikaru Nakamura 2-0 before a fortuitous D. Gukesh took out Russian Andrey Esipenko on way to the FIDE World Cup pre-quarterfinals in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Friday. The two teenagers joined Vidit Gujrathi and Arjun Erigaisi but Nihal Sarin surrendered to fourth seed Ian Nepomniachtchi. The surprise defeat of third seed K. Humpy left D. Harika as the only Indian in the Women's quarterfinals. In the first 25-minute rapid game, Praggnanandhaa punished Nakamura for an early mistake and gained a knight.
Though the second seed tried to complicate matters, Praggnanandhaa proved equal to the challenge and emerged superior in 33 moves. Showing no signs of being intimidated by Nakamura's reputation in shorter time controls, Praggnanandhaa exerted pressure on his desperate rival. He blasted Nakamura's queenside, gained a bishop to leave his famed opponent in deep thought. Finding the right continuation, Praggnanandhaa added to Nakamura's exasperation. Nakamura delayed resigning and endured the pain for a bit longer before giving up on the 41st move.
After an equal battle in the first rapid game, Gukesh was extremely lucky to escape a sequence of three-move checkmate after his 40th against Esipenko. The Russian erred decisively on the next move and Gukesh went on to win in 53 moves. In the first rapid game against Nepomniachtchi, Nihal missed a narrow win, a possible draw before slipping into a lost position and running out of time. But in the second, it was the Russian all the way.
D. Harika seized her opportunity with black pieces against Eline Roebers in the second game after the first game ended in a hard-fought draw. Humpy, having beaten Bella Khotenashvili with black pieces on Thursday, couldn't reproduce the magic. Out of the opening, she encountered trouble and the Georgian kept up the pressure to win in 54 moves. However, a blunder on the 40th move accelerated her exit which followed three moves later when stared at an inevitable onemove checkmate.
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