Four tour debutants faced a baptism of fire at the top level on Saturday as the $100,000 New In Chess Classic got underway.
The online chess event, the fifth leg of the $1.5 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, started with only one win among the newboys in the first three rounds.
But the standout was India’s 15-year-old prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, who scored that early win and went on to finish the day on 3/5.
The youngster, who qualified via the junior Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour, appeared completely unfazed by playing at the top tier of online chess.
After his early win, Pragg recorded two draws before finishing with a flourish by capping his day with a win over Russia’s former world title challenger Sergey Karjakin.
“I am just happy about the day,” he said after.
Teimour on top
Out in the lead after Day 1 of the prelims is the Airthings Masters champ Teimour Radjabov who finished on an unbeaten 4/5.
Radjabov drew his fifth-round against World Champion Magnus Carlsen. The Norwegian, who finished joint-second on 3.5/5, had declared he was feeling relaxed in the earlier rounds and it showed.
Radjabov said afterward: “Quite happy about the start, but I know that in this tournament it doesn’t matter if you are 1st or 8th, it’s just the same.”
Carlsen added: “Overall a reasonable start, the most important on the first day is not to mess up in a way that I have to play catch-up.”
For the first time, Carlsen was playing at a Tour venue – the Meltwater HQ in Oslo – along with fellow Norwegians Aryan Tari and Johan-Sebastian Christiansen.
However, Carlsen’s younger compatriots both struggled in their first Tour event.
Christiansen suffered the most. The 21-year-old was left with his head in his hands after losing his first five games on the trot. That was the first shut-out in a Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event.
A famous win
Tari fared better, picking up three draws before meeting Christiansen in the last round of the day. In the first game between two players in the same room, Tari won to pile on the misery for Christiansen.
Englishman Gawain Jones, the other debutant, also suffered early on but pulled off a famous win in Round 4.
The reigning European Blitz Champion took down the overall Tour leader Wesley So in 22 moves after the American fell into a well-known opening trap.
Jones, ranked world number 69, had beaten the world number 9.
With the first five rounds of the three-day prelim stage completed, play will resume tomorrow at 19:00 CEST.
When 15 rounds have been completed the field will be halved with eight going forward to the knockout stage.