Three Indian Grandmasters remain in contention for the honours in the men’s section of the FIDE chess World Cup with focus on teen prodigy R Praggnanandhaa in the fourth-round matches on Thursday. The experienced P Harikrishna and fast-rising Vidit Santosh Gujrathi are also in the fray and will be aiming to keep their winning run going.
Play in the tournament resumes on Thursday after a day’s rest on Wednesday. The Chennai-based Praggnanandhaa, playing in his maiden World Cup, faces highly-rated Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, ranked 16th in the world, in round four.
Vachier-Lagrave comes into the match on Thursday after a hard-fought win over Russian David Paravyan via the tie-break. The 15-year old Praggnanandhaa’s good run has drawn the attention of chess pundits and the manner in which he kept his cool in round three after veteran Michal Karsenkow forced a tie-break won appreciation.
The Indian teenager, however, faces a tough task against the French player, who came into the tournament after winning the title in the Croatia Grand Chess Tour event recently. There is a wide gulf in the ELO rating (Vachier-Lagrave’s 2760 as against 2608 of Praggnanandhaa) apart from the experience factor. However, the Indian will fancy his chances in a world cup knockout game as the tournament has already witnessed a few upsets including that of the world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri and Shakriyar Mamedyarov, among others.
Harikrishna takes on Iran’s M Amin Tabatabaei in the fourth round and starts favourite on the basis of the ratings. Gujrathi (ELO 2726), who overcame the stubborn challenge of compatriot B Adhiban in the tie-break, will be up against highly-rated American Jeffery Xiong (ELO 2709) in what promises to be a battle among equals.