Twelve-year-old R Praggnanandhaa will go into the last two rounds of the World Junior (u-20) chess championship just half a point behind the leaders after he held GM Aryan Tari of Norway to a draw on Wednesday.
The top-board clash against overnight leader Tari was very important for Praggnanandhaa as the Norwegian GM had been threatening to run away to the title after registering six wins in his last seven rounds.
But Praggnanandhaa, playing black, ensured that he did not give any advantage to Tari in the Ruy Lopez opening and went on to sign the peace treaty after 39 moves take his tally to 7 points from a possible 9.
The draw means that Tari, with 7.5 points, now shares the lead with defending champion Kirill Alekseenko, who defeated India’s Karthikeyan Murali in 38 moves.
While Karthikeyan suffered a reversal, another Indian GM Aravindh Chithambaram took just 35 moves to beat Austria’s Valentin Dragnev with a Ruy Lopez variation to jump to joint third spot. He will now face Alekseenko in the next round.
If Praggnanandhaa wins the tournament, he will gain the grandmaster title immediately without the need to score two more norms and as a result, will smash Sergey Karjakin’s record to become the youngest grandmaster in history.