Jan-Krzysztof Duda leads the Prague International Chess Festival Masters with 3.5/5, ahead of Nikita Vitiugov and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. The Czech capital is hosting the event for the first time.
It’s not so strange that a new and rather big chess event was born in Prague. The Czech Republic has a long chess tradition (Oldrich Duras! Richard Réti! Rudolf Charousek! Salo Flohr! Lubomir Kavalek! Vlastimil Hort!) and strong grandmasters also currently, such as David Navara and Viktor Laznicka. These days Pentala Harikrishna is living there as well, after getting married to a Serbian lady.
Organized by the Novy Bor Chess Club and AVE-Kontakt, the first edition of the festival takes place March 5-16 in the four-star hotel Don Giovanni in Prague. There’s a typical idea behind it: to give both young & upcoming as well as top Czech players a chance to face the world’s top players on home soil.
And the organizers are ambitious as well: “The long-term goal of the project is to establish a tradition of organizing a chess festival on par with the world’s finest events, at both tournament str[e]ngth and organizational levels.”
Like in Wijk aan Zee, there’s both a Masters and a Challengers group, although here both are 10-player round robins. Besides those there’s a big open, and smaller tournaments for amateurs. In this report, the focus is on the top two groups.
The participants here are David Navara (CZE, 2739), Richard Rapport (HUN, 2738), Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL, 2731), Sam Shankland (USA, 2731), Pentala Harikrishna (IND, 2730), Nikita Vitiugov (RUS, 2726), Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL, 2722), Vidit Gujarathi (IND, 2711), Viktor Laznicka (CZE, 2670) and Boris Gelfand (ISR, 2655).
20-year-old Duda is leading the main event after five rounds, and during the rest day on Monday. It all started with a long first-round game where he tried the Classical Pirc, and was under pressure against Rapport.
Not able to break through, the Hungarian GM went for a material imbalance that just wasn’t working for White—or did he forget that e4 was hanging in that line? In any case, Duda ended up with two knights for a bishop and two pawns, and won that 46 moves later.
In the third round it actually went wrong for Duda. Probably caught by surprise in the opening, his early mistake was in fact a theoretical novelty. It wasn’t easy to see the Qh4 move that attacks both f4 and d8.
A win vs top seed Navara got Duda back to plus two. He had already reached a pleasant isolated queen’s pawn position when his opponent missed a nasty tactic. This one was also based on the theme of double attack.
Vitiugov, currently sharing second place on a plus-one score, won an excellent game in round two. It got the best game prize (great to see the organizers taking up this old and somewhat forgotten tradition!) for that day.
Prague Masters | Round 5 Standings
The participants here are Alexei Shirov (ESP, 2667), David Anton (ESP, 2643), David Paravyan (RUS, 2627), Mateusz Bartel (POL, 2600), Jiri Stocek (CZE, 2592), Ju Wenjun (CHN, 2580), Jan Krejci (CZE, 2570), Peter Michalik (CZE, 2565), Thai Dai Van Nguyen (CZE, 2546) and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (IND, 2532).
It’s a bit odd to see a former super GM like Shirov not playing in the top group, but that’s part of the idea behind the tournament. The Czech participants are all getting a chance to play him!
Challengers top seed GM Alexei Shirov won his game yesterday against Mateusz Bartel 📷 by Vladimir Jagr #chess #picf2019 pic.twitter.com/GBKSVXiXLH
— Prague Chess Festival ( @PragueChess) March 8, 2019
Back to representing Spain, Shirov is on a modest 50 percent so far. He was on the wrong side of the Game of the 3rd Day, indeed an excellent game by Stocek:
There’s a four-way tie for first place at the moment among local heros Michalik and Krejci, and also the more known Anton and the one female player in the two groups (something to improve for next year? ), Ju Wenjun.
The latter was on plus two in fact, but today she lost to Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa after dropping a pawn early in a Petroff—a move that was a (bad) novelty.
Prague Challengers | Round 5 Standings
|7||Nguyen,Thai Dai Van||2546||2595||½||0||½||½||1||2.5/5||5.5|
Games via TWIC.