Carlsen On The Brink After Armageddon Win

Carlsen On The Brink After Armageddon Win


GM Magnus Carlsen won his fifth match in a row at the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals but lost his perfect score as GM Le Quang Liem only went down in the armageddon game of their tiebreak. The Vietnamese GM thereby took one match point away from the world champion, who can still clinch tournament victory with a round to spare with a win on Saturday.

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals live

Le put up a great fight and managed to beat Carlsen twice on one day: in the second rapid game and in the second blitz game of the tiebreak, on demand. That alone deserved applause. Was he going to pull off another match victory, as he did back in April at the Oslo Esports Cup?

Here’s that on-demand blitz win:

This meant that we got to see the first armageddon game of the tournament, where Carlsen got the white pieces for what was now a must-win for him. He played with five minutes on the clock, while Le got four minutes with draw odds.

“The blitz was really poor,” said Carlsen, “but I felt in the armageddon game, I am not so sure about his choice of opening because I feel like generally it’s easier to have the minor pieces there in blitz.”

On the match as a whole, he said: “It was clearly a lot tougher than some of the other matches. It was a combination of him playing a good match and me not really not finding my rhythm after the first game so I gotta do better in the last two matches.” 

Meltwater finals playing hall
Carlsen putting on his earphones, getting ready for the armageddon game, in the beautiful playing hall inside the San Francisco Ferry Building with the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

The gap with runner-up Duda increased by one more point in the standings as the Polish GM lost his second match in a row, but also in the tiebreak, so he got one point. After a match that saw six straight wins for the white pieces it was Pragg who held the armageddon game to a draw as Black.

We’ll look at the fourth rapid game, a must-win for Pragg:

Praggnanandhaa Meltwater Finals
After playing Duda, Pragg will face Carlsen on Saturday. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Winning his third match in a row without a tiebreak, So has now collected nine points and has jumped to third place in the standings. He defeated a struggling GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in all three games. The Azerbaijani GM seems to suffer the most from playing late at night, considering him blundering like this:

GM Arjun Erigaisi, however, seems to have fully adjusted to playing after midnight. He won his second match in a row, against an also struggling GM Anish Giri. Two wins, followed by a draw was enough for a quick match victory.

Here’s the first game, which set the tone of the match:

Day 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Score
1 Magnus Carlsen 2848 14/15
2 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2798 10/15
3 Wesley So 2774 9/15
4 Le Quang Liem 2775 8/15
5-6 Praggnanandhaa R. 2750 6/15
5-6 Arjun Erigaisi 2733 6/15
7 Anish Giri 2732 4/15
8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2756 3/15

All games day 5

Some players went to the Chase Center at night to see (or not see!) the Golden State Warriors beat the New York Knicks 111-101.

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals take place November 14-20, 2022 on chess24. The format is an eight-player round-robin; each round has four-game rapid matches, and the winner gets three points. The time control is 15 minutes for each 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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