Norway Chess: Praggnanandhaa twice lucky as Ding Liren blunders again

Stavanger, 4 Jun: Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa avenged his early Armageddon defeat with a win against world campion Ding Liren but only after the Chinese blundered from a position of strength in both the games in the seventh round of Norway chess tournament.
While the first match ended in a draw, Praggnanandhaa came on top in the Armageddon.
Praggnanandhaa employed his pet Italian opening as white against Liren but was in for a surprise as the Chinese seized the initiative in the middle game with a timely control of the center.
With his Kingside under threat, Praggnanadhaa tried to stay afloat and on the 29th move Liren made an error. The game was drawn abruptly on the next move when the pundits believed there was still a lot to play for.
In the return game too, Liren missed a simple manoeuvre that would have netted him a decisive material advantage and instead ended up throwing his own piece away a couple of moves later.
Magnus Carlsen of Norway proved just a tad slow and lost on time in the Armageddon game against Hikaru Nakamura of United States.
The Norwegian was within a few moves of attaining a draw which would have netted him the match victory in the Armageddon but for once the clock deserted the world number one.
In the other game of the day, Firouza Alireza of France defeated Fabiano Caruana of United States also in the faster version of the game.
With three rounds still remaining Carlsen, who is on 13 points, is now marginally ahead of Nakamura who is just a half point adrift.
Praggnanandhaa on 11 points is still third enjoying a 1.5 points lead over Alireza. Caruana is fifth on 7.5 while there does not seem any possible revival for Liren who is languishing on just 3.5 points.
In the women’s section, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine handed world champion Wenjun Ju of China her first defeat in the tournament to emerge as the sole leader on 12 points. Despite the loss, Ju is close behind on 11.5.
Koneru Humpy won her first classical game in the tournament at the expense of compatriot R Vaishali, who is still in third spot on 10 points.
Tingjie Lei of China accounted for Pia Cramling of Sweden to remain fourth on 8.5 points while Humpy’s comeback victory took her closer to the Chinese on eight points.
Cramling on 5.5 is a distant last in the six-player double round-robin tournament.
Carlsen had an extra piece against Nakamura in the endgame where the American’s pawns were successfully halted but a quirk of fate saw him losing the game as he ran out of time.
Humpy did not get much against Vaishali as white out of the opening but stayed put to look for an advantage in what was a must-win game for her.
Vaishali survived most of the scare but walked in to a heavy-pieces endgame a pawn less. Humpy ended the game with a fine rook sacrifice. (PTI)