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Candidates Tournament 2024, Round 8: Gukesh Back on Top, Humpy Gets First Win

Candidates Tournament 2024: A stunning comeback got D Gukesh back to the top, while Koneru Humpy got her first win.

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After a defeat against Alireza Firouzja, which cost him first place in the standings, D Gukesh made a stunning comeback at the 2024 Candidates Tournament as he defeated fellow Indian compatriot Vidit Gujrathi in round 8 of the competition.

Gukesh, the youngest player in this edition of the competition, had an early advantage in the game against Vidit, where he opted for the Two Knights Defense. With time not being in his favour and Gukesh being in an advantageous position since move 19, Vidit had to concede defeat after 38 moves.

R Praggnanandhaa, meanwhile, dished out another clinical and secure performance in his game against Alireza Firouzja, where the French-Iranian Grandmaster preferred solidity ahead of risks, opting for the Paulsen variation of the Silician defense. The 40-move game could only have had a draw as its conclusion.
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Besides Gukesh, Koneru Humpy was the other Indian who clinched a victory in the eighth round, beating R Vaishali. The youngster opted for an aggressive approach, using the Botvinnik variation of the Grünfeld defense, and did well to keep the game at even stevens, but Humpy’s experience worked in her advantage as he nailed her opponent down with her endgame strategy. This was her maiden win of the competition.

Elsewhere, Fabiano Caruana, touted as among the favourites to win the competition, erred yet again as he was handed a defeat by fellow American Hikaru Nakamura, who is now on a five-match unbeaten streak after what was a rather surprising defeat to Vidit Gujrathi.

The biggest surprise of the day, however, was perhaps Nijat Abasov’s excellent performance against Ian Nepomniachtchi, enabling him to hold the Russian to a draw – an outcome which visibly did not go down well with the defending Candidates champion.

In the women’s section, Nurgyul Salimova and Anna Muzychuk were involved in an almighty marathon which eventually ended in a draw after 120 moves. Meanwhile, Lei Tingjie’s late resurgence continues to gather pace as she won her third consecutive game, beating fellow Chinese player and tournament favourite Tan Zhongyi on this occasion. The game between Nurgyul Salimova and Aleksandra Goryachkina ended in a draw as well.

2024 Candidates Tournament Round 8 Results:

  • Hikaru Nakamura won against Fabiano Caruana

  • Ian Nepomniachtchi drew against Nijat Abasov

  • R Praggnanandhaa drew against Alireza Firouzja

  • Vidit Gujrathi lost against D Gukesh

  • Kateryna Lagno drew against Aleksandra Goryachkina

  • Nurgyul Salimova drew against Anna Muzychuk

  • Tan Zhongyi lost against Lei Tingjie

  • Koneru Humpy won against R Vaishali

(Players mentioned on the right played with black pieces)

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Gukesh Reclaims What He Lost

Having been dethroned from pole position after his previous defeat, Gukesh is now back on the top of the standings, tied on 5 points with Ian Nepomniachtchi. Hikaru Nakamura’s victory sees him climb to the third place with 4.5 points. Albeit he has the same points as Praggnanandhaa, the Indian teenager is currently placed fourth owing to the American’s better Sonneborn-Berger score.

Fabiano Caruana is placed fifth with 4 points, whilst with 3.5 points, Vidit Gujrathi is in sixth place, with a mountain to climb in the last six rounds. Alireza Firouzja is placed seventh with three points, followed by Nijat Abasov, who might be occupying the last position with 2.5 points, but should be content with some of his displays in this competition.

In the women’s section, Lei Tingjie is now jointly placed on top with 5 points, alongside Aleksandra Goryachkina and Tan Zhongyi. The trio is followed by Kateryna Lagno in fourth place, with 4.5 points.

Koneru Humpy is tied with Nurgyul Salimova on 3.5 points, albeit a better Sonneborn-Berger score sees the Bulgarian ahead of the Indian in the standings. Anna Muzychuk is placed seventh with 3 points, whilst, with 2.5 points, R Vaishali is currently sitting at the bottom of the standings.

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Teen Prodigies Meet in Round 9

Round 9 promises to bear immense significance for the Indian contingent, as Gukesh will be facing Praggnanandhaa in a contest where the former would want to increase his advantage over the chasing pack, whilst the latter would be desperate to close the gap down with the leaders. Vidit will be facing a high-flying Nakamura.

In the women’s section, Koneru Humpy would want to build on her first victory as she faces Kateryna Lagno, while Vaishali’s challenge of getting out of the bottom place will be stern, as she will face a bruised and belligerent Tan Zhongyi.

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