FIDE Candidates Round 3: Brother/Sister Comeback As Praggnanandhaa Defeats Vidit While Vaishali Finds Her Groove

The brother/sister duo of GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and GM-elect Vaishali Rameshbabu stole the show as the only victors in round three of the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournament.

Praggnanandhaa defeated one of the leaders, GM Vidit Gujrathi, by unleashing the Schliemann Gambit to unsettle his more experienced opponent. GMs Gukesh Dommaraju, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Fabiano Caruana continue to share the lead after drawing their respective games.

In the 2024 FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament, Vaishali sacrificed three minor pieces in the hunt after IM Nurgyul Salimova‘s king. GM Tan Zhongyi maintained her lead by blitzing out a draw with Black against GM Humpy Koneru.

Round four starts on Sunday, April 7, at 2:30 p.m. ET / 20:30 CEST / 12:00 a.m. IST.

Standings – Candidates 

Standings – Women’s Candidates 


Candidates: Praggnanandhaa Strikes Back

Vidit vs. Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Vidit and Praggnanandhaa have a habit of playing fighting chess versus each other. In the seven classical games where they have faced off, six have been decisive with an equal 3-3 share of victories.

Once again, Praggnanandhaa came prepared with the biggest surprise. He deployed the Deferred Schliemann, launching his f-pawn forward early in the game to shake the usually calm, strategic Ruy Lopez into gambit territory.

His spirited preparation paid off. Praggnanandhaa equalized while gaining a 40-minute time edge in the opening. A flurry of dynamic moves appeared on the board as the players wrestled for the initiative. The scales began to tip in Praggnanandhaa’s favor when he stormed his g-pawn into the enemy kingside while Vidit struggled with time pressure. IM Tania Sachdev summed up the finish: “Pragg can smell blood right now.”

Pragg can smell blood right now.

―Tania Sachdev

Praggnanandhaa and Vidit’s scintillating clash is our Game of the Day. Enjoy GM Rafael Leitao‘s insights below.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

What risky, creative idea will Praggnanandhaa try next? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Firouzja vs. Caruana: 1/2-1/2

With five wins to just one, Caruana has a significant lead against GM Alireza Firouzja in their overall score in classical chess. Tania shared her perspective on their lopsided results:

Fabi has such a big plus score against Alireza in different formats actually. Recently, he had this incredible win in Norway Chess playing the black pieces as well, and it was GM Judit Polgar who called it the game of the tournament.

There’s been this narrative, this pattern in their matchups where Firouzja doesn’t end up getting his kind of positions, the Alireza mess that he aims for. Fabi keeps things under control. Alireza gets desperate and starts sacrificing material for the initiative. Fabi grabs it, holds on to it, keeps everything under control, and Alireza is not able to prove it. That often sees Fabi come out on top.

Firouzja doesn’t end up getting his kind of positions, the Alireza mess that he aims for. 

―Tania Sachdev

This was another game where Firouzja wasn’t able to create the dynamic chaos he thrives on. In the opening, Caruana provoked him, according to GM Peter Leko, by opting for the zesty 4…Nd4 line in the Rossolimo Sicilian. Firouzja searched for ways to enhance his small edge, but Caruana countered with a timely central pawn break. Though Firouzja wasn’t so willing to admit to equality, it became inevitable as the game progressed into an ending.

Gukesh vs. Nepomniachtchi: 1/2-1/2

At Tata Steel this year, Gukesh and Nepomniachtchi met for the first time in classical chess. It was Gukesh who prevailed with striking tactical play.

In the middlegame, Gukesh had Nepomniachtchi under pressure, but the two-time challenger regrouped and defended successfully. The players traded into a minor-piece ending, and after a clock malfunction was resolved, they agreed to a draw in an equal position.

Abasov vs. Nakamura: 1/2-1/2

In February, GM Hikaru Nakamura defeated GM Nijat Abasov, despite playing Black and being down two pawns for most of the game. Would the American grandmaster try again to gain victory with the black pieces against the lowest seed?

Not this time, as neither player seemed willing to rock the boat today. Abasov chose a solid setup with White, and Nakamura followed suit. As the competitors traded away material with a symmetrical center, their game didn’t really get off the ground.

Afterward, Nakamura talked about it in his recap.

In round four, Nakamura and Praggnanandhaa―two players capable of highly imaginative chess―will clash. Also, Nepomniachtchi will get his chance to strike with White while Vidit is recovering from a tough loss.


Women’s Candidates: Vaishali Sets Board On Fire, Lei Awakens Evans Gambit

Vaishali vs. Salimova: 1-0

These players, the two youngest in the field, have never played each other in classical chess. With White against the bottom seed, would this game present Vaishali with the chance to bounce back from her loss in round two?

In her trademark attacking style, Vaishali offered a knight sacrifice with the hopes of opening a file to the enemy king. When Salimova declined the sacrifice, Vaishali insisted, launching her knight into the opposing king’s home with a bang―and two exclamation points.

With 14.Nxf7!!, we see the Vaishali that won the Grand Swiss arrive

Though Salimova held off the mating attack, Vaishali reached an ending with three extra pawns.

Vaishali bounced back with ambitious play today, eager to sacrifice a piece to spur on her attack. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Muzychuk vs. Lagno: 1/2-1/2

GM Anna Muzychuk leads GM Kateryna Lagno 3-1 in decisive games. The 10 draws between them show that they are formidable opponents for each other. Would Muzychuk be able to capitalize on her first-move advantage?

Though much of the game involved balanced positional shuffling, the tide turned when Lagno made an inaccuracy. Muzychuk’s queen and rook dove into Black’s back rank. Yet, the Ukrainian grandmaster ultimately missed the opportunity for a deadly king hunt.

Lei vs. Goryachkina: 1/2-1/2

GM Lei Tingjie caught the gambit bug herself, choosing to take the Evans Gambit for a spin in this critical duel with the top seed.

GM Aleksandra Goryachkina was caught off-guard, investing 35 minutes to get her bearings in the early stages. Lei made efforts to open up the game and generate pressure across the board. Yet, Goryachkina was able to stabilize her position with sensible maneuvers and well-timed exchanges.

A fighting matchup between the top seeds. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Humpy vs. Tan: 1/2-1/2

Humpy has the upper hand against Tan with three victories and one draw out of their four previous classical matchups. How would the tournament leader approach her game against a player that seems to have her number?

While Humpy invested much of her time, Tan used negative four minutes, gaining time due to the increment, to steer the game into an early draw.

Tan neutralized with Black against a dangerous rival and continues to lead the tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In round four, Lagno will have her chance with the white pieces versus Tan. Can she slow down the leader? Meanwhile, Goryachkina faces Vaishali as she comes off an inspired victory.

You can watch video recaps of the Candidates in our playlist below (click here).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

How to watch?

You can watch the 2024 FIDE Candidates Tournament on Chess24’s YouTube and Twitch, and the 2024 Women’s FIDE Candidates on Chess.com’s YouTube and Twitch. The games can also be followed from our Events Page.

The FIDE Candidates Tournaments are among the most important FIDE events of the year. Players compete for the right to play in the next FIDE World Championship match against current World Chess Champions GMs Ding Liren and Ju Wenjun.


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