Kolkata, World No.3 Hikaru Nakamura of the US stayed unbeaten to remain on sole pole position as five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand alongwith Pentala Harikrishna led the Indian challenge at the end of day one of the Tata Steel Chess India 2018 Blitz tournament here on Tuesday.
Nakamura, who won the rapid competition also, ended with a score of 6.5/9 and crossed the rating barrier of 2900 for a brief while on the live rating list but dropped down after his draw to Indian prodigy R.Praggnanandhaa in the last round. The 30-year old registered four wins and five draws after nine rounds.
Another American Wesley So, who had a poor rapid tournament, rallied with victories in consecutive rounds to end the day with a nice score of 6/9 and sit second.
Levon Aronian of Armenia scored 5.5/9 and remained on sole third place.
Anand improved on his lacklustre rapid showing to finish fourth while Harikrishna sat just behind him on fifth with both compatriots having five points.
Thirteen-year-old Praggnanandhaa, who replaced Nihal Sarin in the blitz part, scored an impressive 3.5/9 and delighted one and all through his games and results.
Facing Praggnanandhaa for the first time, Anand beat the fellow Chennai boy but not without having to overcome difficult moments after a bad opening in round 6.
Praggnanandhaa was launching an attack but a different pawn move on the 15th turn g4 was a mistake. Anand took the initiative and romped home later.
“I got the impression that Praggnanandhaa is very much at home in blitz,” an impressed Anand said later.
“At some point I felt that he had outplayed me in the opening. The only thing I could hope for was the exchange sacrifice, I honestly don’t know if it works or not. But at least in the blitz time control this is a great position. I had no idea what actually happened but in the end it was enough to win,” he added.
Asked whether he was nervous, Praggnanandhaa said, “Not nervous. I just want to do well always.”
On playing against Anand, the second youngest GM added, “When they invited me, I was very happy to play against top players.”
Praggnanandhaa tasted success in round five when he defeated Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine before outwitting local challenger Surya Sekhar Ganguly in the eighth round.
Against Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Praggnanandhaa captialised on a huge error and punished him by clocking his second win of the event.
Ganguly’s mistake on moves 22 and 48 made his position worse. But he lost as he couldn’t finish the game in the stipulated time.
In round one, Nakamura, who led from start to finish, won the first game against local hope Ganguly whose 24th move of Bd5 was a blunder and handed an easy win to the American.
Praggnanandhaa made his Indian super tournament debut and was doing fine against Harikrishna. But in time pressure, he blundered on the 55th move and went down in the next 5 moves.
Anand continued his peaceful approach as he drew Wesley, while Aronian played out a slugfest with Vidit as they drew after 70 odd moves. Shakh Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) also played out a draw with Sergey Karjakin (Russia).
Nakamura then breezed past Harikrishna in the second round as Ganguly stunned 2016 World Blitz Champion Sergey Karjakin of Russia.
In the third round, Russian Sergey Karjakin stunned Anand, who was clearly struggling as Nakamura continued his surge in the fourth round by defeating his countrymate Wesley.
The last game of the day was exciting as they saw their hero Anand go down in flames against Aronian thanks to a huge mistake on move 27 that cost him the game.
“In the middle, I was very pleased with how it was going. But in the end, I started to blow it. I had a win against Hari and well the last game was just a disaster,” Anand said later.