Pragg and Nodirbek on the charge as lead changes several times

Praggnanandhaa and his Uzbek rival Nodirbek Abdusattorov are the two hot favourites – and today showed why

The two hot favourites in the Gelfand Challenge sit top of the leaderboard after a day of bloodthirsty chess.

Indian wonderkid R Praggnanandhaa and his Uzbek rival Nodirbek Abdusattorov both had stormers to rack up 8/10 at the half-way point.

The lead changed several times as Team Polgar’s Awonder Liang, the overnight front-runner, suffered a spectacular fall with three defeats in a row.

Gelfand Challenge

Liang did turn it around in the final round to score a vital win that keeps him in the running on 7/10 alongside D Gukesh and Vincent Keymer.

Meanwhile, Praggnanandhaa, the overall Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour leader, quickly overcame his slow start to this event yesterday.

Just as he did in the Polgar Challenge, Praggnanandhaa roared into action on Day 2 by hitting a perfect five-in-a-row.

The final standings

The super-strong Uzbek Abdusattorov also showed why he is one of the favourites to scoop the golden ticket to the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour on offer.

He scored three wins in a row to go eight unbeaten before being finally beaten by 20-year-old Gunay Mammadzada, of Azerbaijan.

But any thoughts that the loss may knock Abdusattorov off his stride were dispelled in the final round as he beat Saduakassova to finish level in the lead.

Pragg and Abdusattorov are both members of Team Kramnik but in the overall team battle Team Polgar is still level with the scores locked 50-50.

Liang’s misery came after he started the day on the back of a perfect score of 5/5 yesterday.

The 18-year-old American won his first to go 6/6 but then the spectacular fall from grace began against Dinara Saduakassova.

Liang will now have to pick himself up for the second half of the tournament.

Play starts again on the playzone on Saturday at 15:00 CEST with the final four rounds on Sunday.

The Gelfand Challenge is organised by the Play Magnus Group with presenting partner Air for Kids by Airthings.

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