Prague Chess Festival R1: Favorites Strike

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Top seeds Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Nikita Vitiugov started with wins at the Prague Chess Festival, where Vidit Gujrathi was another winner in the opening round of the Masters. Hannes Stefansson was the only winner in the Challengers group.

You can follow the tournament here in our live portal. The tournament runs February 12-21 with a rest day on February 17. The rounds start at 15:00 CET which is 6 a.m. Pacific time. The last round starts an hour earlier.

It was a pretty good first round in Prague with five interesting games, and three ended decisively in the Masters. 

Top seed Duda had a relatively easy day at the office, happening simultaneously on what was an off-day for David Navara. The Czech grandmaster failed to cope with Black’s early, positional …g5 thrust (in this particular position a novelty), quickly got into a worse endgame and lost without a chance.

The first winner was Vidit, who crushed Sam Shankland in a game that started with a rather quiet line of the Nimzo-Indian but suddenly exploded. Putting one piece back to its starting square was playable, but when Shankland did that to a second minor piece, his kingside suddenly became almost undefendable. Self-trapping his queen then accelerated his demise.

The third winner was Vitiugov, whose fairly straightforward win against Tata Steel Chess Challengers winner David Anton can be found below.

Both Grandelius-Harikrishna and Firouzja-Ragger ended in draws with a fairly theoretical opening phase in especially the latter game. The game Anand-Svidler from the 2019 Grenke Chess Classic developed for 24 moves, when the players moved straight into an equal queen endgame.

Prague Masters | Round 1 Games

Stefansson, the oldest grandmaster among the 20 players, was the only player to win his game in the Challengers group. After he played some mysterious moves in a Classical Scheveningen, he wasn’t doing too great, but one passive move from Czech IM Tadeas Kriebel was all it took:

Prague Challengers 2020
A group photo of the Challengers with Stefansson in the top row, fifth from the left. Photo: Prague Chess Festival.

Prague Challengers | Round 1 Games

The Prague Chess Festival has a prize fund of 44,000 euros ($48,000) and runs February 12-21 in Hotel Don Giovanni in Prague.

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