The Winding Wonderland of Fischer Random: Abdusattorov, Nakamura Lead

The Winding Wonderland of Fischer Random: Abdusattorov, Nakamura Lead


GMs Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Hikaru Nakmaura won both matches of the day to lead Groups A and B at the 2022 Fischer Random World Championship on Tuesday. Abdusattorov swept vs. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and defeated GM Wesley So. Nakamura won vs. GM Matthias Bluebaum and longtime rival, GM Magnus Carlsen.

The knockout stage continues on Wednesday, October 26, starting at 8 a.m. PT / 21:00 CEST.

How to watch?

The first Fischer Random starting position is evaluated as +0.15―closer to equal than the standard chess initial setup. 

What’s the human perspective on this position? Commentator GM Jeffery Xiong saw a Ruy Lopez opening setup in the making, which makes sense with four of the pieces on their regular starting squares, the h1-knight ready to go to its common Spanish square of g3, and the d1-bishop easily able to transform into the Lopez bishop on the squares of a4, b3, or c2. On the other hand, Commentator GM Robert Hess was first drawn to the tactical feature that each side has an undefended pawn on the h-file. 

Carlsen defeated GM Vladimir Fedoseev, winning the first game and drawing the second, despite a shocking blunder. 

Abdusattorov’s 2-0 victory vs. Nepomniachtchi included a 22-move attacking miniature.

So far, eighteen-year-old Abdusattorov has taken down the reigning Fischer Random Champion and the World Championship Challenger. Image: Maria Emelianova.

Reigning champion So won his match vs. GM Hjorvar Gretarsson also with a miniature victory in just 19-moves.

In his hard-fought match vs. Bluebaum, Nakamura won a tactical queen, bishop, and pawns vs. queen and rook ending.

The starting position for the second match is evaluated as +0.2―very close to the standard chess initial setup. 

A feature that stands out is the placement of the bishops and queens in each corner, leaving two major approaches to the opening: a ferocious fight between the two players to take over control of the two longest diagonals on the board, which we see in full force in Nakamura vs. Carlsen, or an attempt to blunt the bishops by setting up a well-supported center pawn chain, such as in Abdusattov vs. So. 

Let’s start with fierce fight for the central diagonals between Nakamura and Carlsen, which featured five sacrifices offered within the first 12 moves. 

To the shock of all watching, Carlsen blundered a second time in the day in game two vs. Nakamura.

Even Carlsen lost his balance at times in the winding wonderland of Fischer Random. Image: Maria Emelianova.

Nakamura shared his thoughts on his fascinating match vs. Carlsen on his YouTube channel:

The so far unstoppable Abdusattorov also won his match against So. 

Fedoseev defeated Bluebaum in a curious game where both sides intentionally kept their kings in the center and opened up the flanks. 

Nepomniachtchi swept his match against Gretarsson 2-0, including a win where he spent nine moves carefully setting a trap for his opponent’s centralized bishop. 

Knockout Day 1 Standings

The Fischer Random World Championship, brought to you by the Government of Iceland and the City of Reykjavik, gathers top players worldwide to compete in a series of classical Fischer Random games for their share of the $400,000 prize fund and the title of FIDE Fischer Random World Champion. Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) is a chess variant where all standard chess rules are the same, except for the starting position of the pieces, which can be in one of 960 semi-random setups. Heavily endorsed by the 11th world champion GM Bobby Fischer, the variant sidesteps opening preparation to highlight players’ true understanding of chess.

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