Carlsen Beats So As Champions Chess Tour Finals Take Off In San Francisco

Carlsen Beats So As Champions Chess Tour Finals Take Off In San Francisco


The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals took off on Monday in San Francisco with a win for the world champion. GM Magnus Carlsen toppled GM Wesley So, the recent winner of the Global Chess Championship, in the opening round.

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals live

The Finals, the last event in this year’s Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, has the top six players in the overall standings in the tour—Carlsen, GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, GM Praggnanandhaa R., GM Le Quang Liem, GM Anish Giri, and GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov—plus GM Arjun Erigaisi and So. The latter is making his debut in this season.

Carlsen, Giri, Praggnanandhaa, and So are playing from the San Francisco Ferry Building, while Duda, Erigaisi, Le, and Mamedyarov are playing from their homes. Visa issues might have played a role there, for some of the players.

Especially Erigaisi (starting at 1:30 a.m.) and Mamedyarov (starting at midnight) are somewhat handicapped having to play way after dark in their specific time zones. Mamedyarov, who gave his post-match interview at 4 a.m. local time in Baku, said he didn’t mind:

“We are professional chess players. Of course it’s OK to play at four or five, or to wake up and play chess immediately. It’s absolutely normal and for this reason I’m absolutely happy to play in this tournament.”

The Azerbaijani GM had reasons to smile after a 2.5-1.5 match win vs. Praggnanandhaa, which means he got the full three points. A win after a tiebreak only yields two points, with one going to the loser.

Here’s their decisive fourth game:

The big clash of the first day was obviously Carlsen vs. So, which started with two draws. Interestingly, in the second game the world champion once again played the Pirc, a slightly risky but fighting opening that he has tried quite a few times now in recent months.

The third was the only decisive game. Carlsen wasn’t surprised with his opponent playing the solid Berlin twice, and felt he got a good position in both of his white games. “Apparently in the third game there were a number of mistakes made but I felt like practically I was always doing well with his weaker king,” he said.

The world champion wasn’t sure about his form, calling it “not great” and acknowledging a number of mutual errors on the first day: “To be honest the match today was pretty weak for our standards, I thought both of us could have done better.”

Wesley So Meltwater Finals
Wesley So travelled from Toronto to San Francisco, fresh from winning the Global Chess Championship. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

In a match between two players playing from their homes, Duda defeated Erigaisi. The Polish GM needed only three games as he won both times as White. The last game was easy as Erigaisi suffered an opening disaster:

Giri and Le (who plays from his home in Missouri) drew all four games, and so this was the only match that saw a tiebreak. The Dutchman prevailed with 1.5-0.5, winning the first blitz game. 

This match also saw an ongoing discussion between the players in the Open Ruy Lopez:

“Yeah, I am happy that I won today,” said Giri. “Especially because my last two matches against Le Quang, I think I lost 2.5-0.5, both of them. I didn’t even last four games, so I was happy today.”

Anish Giri Meltwater Finals
Anish Giri is one of the four players who are playing the Meltwater Finals from San Francisco. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Day 1 standings

# Fed Name Rtg Score
1-3 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2798 3
1-3 Magnus Carlsen 2848 3
1-3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2756 3
4 Anish Giri 2732 2
5 Le Quang Liem 2775 1
6-8 Arjun Erigaisi 2733 0
6-8 Wesley So 2774 0
6-8 Praggnanandhaa R. 2750 0

All games day 1

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals takes place November 14-20, 2022 on chess24. The format is an eight-player round-robin, with each round having four-game rapid matches where the winner gets three points. The time control is 15 minutes for the whole game plus a 10-second increment. A tiebreak follows immediately in case of a 2-2 tie and in that case, the winner gets two points and the loser one.


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