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Last round results can make or break your events

by Sagar Shah - 16/03/2019

Last rounds are extremely important. An entire event that was played well can spiral downwards if you lose the last round. At the same time a mediocre event can become the best if you manage to win your final game. At the World Team Championships team India's fate was spoiled by the last round loss to Russia. We had to settle for the fourth place without a medal. At the Prague Chess Festival both Harikrishna and Vidit were on 4.0/8 before the last round. Harikrishna lost his game to Gelfand and finished seventh out of ten players. On the other hand Vidit won the last round against Navara and finished second! Talk about last round result making or breaking an event!

Vidit Gujrathi finishes second at the Prague Masters 2019 | Photo: Vladimir Jagr

Vidit Gujrathi was playing the top seed of the Prague Masters 2019 David Navara in the final round. Playing with the black pieces against an opponent like Navara is never easy. But at the same time the chances of winning a game against the Czech no.1 are tangible because of his uncompromising style of play. The game was quite unusual from many viewpoints. Firstly Navara played an opening idea which was not particularly strong giving Vidit easy equality and then in a relatively even position he blundered big time losing an exchange.

Qc3-e5 is the normal move in such positions. Navara's Qb4 has been played only in one game before

Black has many additional moves compared to the normal line. For eg. He has managed to get his pawn to a4, castled and the rook on d8. Yet, White is not worse because f3 and e4 will push Black's pieces behind.

Rc1 by Navara was one of those blind spots which lead to a completely lost position

Vidit was quick to spot that b5-b4 leads to a discovered attack from the bishop on a6.

...Nd2+ simply wins an exchange!

The conversion was tricky as White kept his bishop on c3 and not giving Black an easy way to improve the position. But Vidit is now pretty good at converting such endgames. He kept his cool and managed to breakthrough when Navara made a mistake.

With this performance Vidit managed to gain 5.7 Elo points and his live rating is now 2715

Harikrishna also would have had a fine event had he won the last round against Boris Gelfand. But the Indian was completely out of sorts as he went down to Boris in just 24 moves | Phtoto: Macauley Peterson

Nikita Vitiugov managed to win the tournament by half a point margin with 5.5/9 | Phtoto: Macauley Peterson

Final results in Masters

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
18
GMVitiugov NikitaRUS27265,50,024,255
210
GMVidit Santosh GujrathiIND27115,02,022,255
31
GMWojtaszek RadoslawPOL27225,01,522,004
49
GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofPOL27315,01,520,755
56
GMGelfand BorisISR26555,01,021,755
67
GMShankland SamuelUSA27314,50,020,255
74
GMHarikrishna PentalaIND27304,01,017,754
82
GMRapport RichardHUN27384,01,017,004
5
GMNavara DavidCZE27394,01,017,004
103
GMLaznicka ViktorCZE26703,00,014,504

Vidit's article on his website:

At halfway stage of the Prague Masters 2019 Vidit wrote a blog about his performance in the first five rounds. Here's one position for you to think:

 

Vidit vs Shankland, Round 5

White has just taken the pawn on c7. How should Black play here?

Vidit: "Here black played 26..h5!! The point is if 26...Qb2 then 27.h5! Rxe2 28.Qd8+ Kg7 29.h6 is mate. h5 gets rid of all the mating ideas and although Black is three pawns down, his attack is unbearable."

Read Vidit's experience in his own words on his website.

Challengers section:

David Anton Guijarro from Spain scored 2.5 points in the last three rounds and won the Challengers section. This performance gives him a direct entry into the A group next year | Photo: Vladimir Jagr

Praggnanandhaa had done really well by beating Ju Wenjun and Shirov in rounds five and six. He was also the leader at the end of round 6 with 3.5/6. However, he was able to get only half a point in last three rounds and finished eighth. | Phtoto: Macauley Peterson

Gaining a few Elo points and lot of experience!

The closing ceremony photo of all the participants | Photo: Vladimir Jagr

Final results in Challengers

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
17GMAnton Guijarro DavidESP26436,00,024,505
25GMKrejci JanCZE25705,50,022,504
310GMJu WenjunCHN25805,01,022,505
46GMMichalik PeterCZE25655,00,023,255
59GMStocek JiriCZE25924,51,019,255
64GMShirov AlexeiESP26674,50,018,754
71GMNguyen Thai Dai VanCZE25464,01,516,754
83GMPraggnanandhaa RIND25324,01,018,754
92GMParavyan DavidRUS26274,00,516,754
108GMBartel MateuszPOL26002,50,011,005

Stany in the Open section:

The open section has the last round yet to played. In the eight rounds that have been completed GM Hannes Stefansson is the leader with 7.0/8. Indian GM Stany G.A is on 6.5/8.

Hannes Stefansson is the leader with 7.0/8 | Phtoto: Macauley Peterson

Stany is in third position and faces Vladislav Bakhmatsky, an untitled players from Ukraine in the last round | Phtoto: Macauley Peterson

We wish Stany the best in the final round. If he wins it, he might have a chance to win the Prague Open!