Hou Yifan Challenge: Pragg always perfect
Almost no draw
Due to the odd number of players, five players had a bye round on Saturday. Table favorites Praggananandhaa and Vincent Keymer – the only two players with a 2600+ rating – were not among them, however, and they ended the day as the top scorers with 5/5 and 4/5 points respectively.
Much like Pragg, Keymer had four wins in the first four rounds, but a loss to Christopher Yoo kept him from keeping pace with his young colleague – Keymer was born nine months before Pragg. Yoo’s victory over the German star was no accident, as the 14-year-old Californian IM was the only player other than the leader to end the day undefeated (Yoo is currently in third place, with 3½ / 4 points) .
Among the girls – six participants are in the mix – Vaishali Rameshbabu, Pragg’s sister, had the best performance on the first day of action. The Indian WGM is in 2½ / 4, having lost to his brother only on Saturday.
Pragg is not only an excellent tactician, but he also knows how to turn a strategic advantage into victory when the opportunity presents itself. Facing Balaji Daggupati in the first round, the Indian star showed good technique in a good riding position against a bad bishop.
35.Td5 was Daggupati’s losing mistake. Pragg quickly traded turns, as his knight will be the strongest minor piece in the technical endgame. Daggupati resigned 20 shots later.
Finals specialist Karsten Müller sent in a more in-depth analysis of Pragg’s instructive victory.
While his brother got the better of Daggupati, Vaishali was defending a lower final against Pole IM Pawel Teclaf.
GM Müller reminds us that we should not rush into the final phase, because Teclaf 44 … f5 + came too early. At this point the winning move was 44 … h4, leaving White in zugzwang.
After Teclaf’s mistake, Vaishali continued to defend until he got the draw six strokes later. Don’t miss GM Müller’s insightful analysis in the replayer below.