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Candidates: Gukesh wins to take sole lead after round 13, Nepomniachtchi draws with Nakamura

Updated: Apr 21st, 2024

D Gukesh/FIDE

India’s 17-year-old chess prodigy D Gukesh defeated Alireza Firouzja in Round 13 of the Candidates 2024 to take the sole lead with one round to go.
Two-time Candidates winner Ian Nepomniachtchi, World No 2 Fabiano Caruana and World No 3 Hikaru Nakamura are trailing the Indian by half a point.

In the last round, which would be one of the most exciting final rounds of the Candidates ever, Gukesh will face Nakamura while Caruana will take on Nepomniachtchi.

Gukesh started slow against Firouzja and did not gain an advantage from the opening in the Ruy Lopez as white. However, as the game progressed, Firouzja opened up his position, providing white with chances to play on, Fide reports.

This is when Gukesh started to slowly outplay his opponent and obtained a promising position after the 40-move time control. A serious mistake on move 45 (45…Qg6) allowed white to trade queens and enter the technically winning endgame, which Gukesh converted with ease.

“After he played 17…Re8 I felt that the position was getting a bit messy. After 22. Bb3, I think he got over-optimistic and started pushing for more. Although my pieces looked passive, strategically, if I consolidate, I will be better. This is exactly what happened in the game. I was quite happy to see 27…f5 because I wanted to win, and I thought this move would give me some chances,” Gukesh was quoted as saying by FIDE (International Chess Federation).

The game between Nepomniachtchi and Nakamura ended in an uneventful draw.

Meanwhile, in Round 13 of the Women’s Candidates, India’s Vaishali R secured her fourth consecutive victory, defeating Lei Tingjie.

(Source: IANS)

- Edited for style