Caruana Survives Scare Against Erigaisi

Caruana Survives Scare Against Erigaisi


GM Fabiano Caruana was the first player to progress to the quarterfinals of the 2022 Speed Chess Championship on Wednesday after defeating GM Arjun Erigaisi in a nail-biting curtain-raiser for the main event.

Erigaisi built a strong lead early; however, Caruana came in clutch with a four-game win streak in the 3+1 section. Carrying the momentum into the bullet portion, Caruana was able to secure the match with a score of 14.5-12.5, eliminating his dangerous challenger.

The next round of 16 match between GMs Ding Liren and Alexander Grischuk will take place on November 27 at 6.00 a.m. PT / 16.00 CET.

Blitz 5|1: Caruana 3-6 Erigaisi

The match started with a bang and produced one of the most exciting draws of the day. Erigaisi took the mantra “passed pawns must be pushed” literally and sacrificed a rook in favor of running his passed a-pawn. His calculations paid off and the Indian sensation promoted moves later though he was unable to find the winning line and conceded a repetition.

On his new podcast “C-Squared,” Caruana heaped praise on Erigaisi and dubbed him as the Indian junior most likely to reach 2800. Familiar with his meteoric rise to the upper echelons of chess, Caruana was clearly taking his opponent very seriously.

In the second game, the match opened up and Erigaisi took an early lead with a stunning 15-move win against the U.S. champion. Things unraveled quickly for Caruana as a theoretical rook sacrifice in the Polerio, Bishop Check line in the Italian Game went horribly wrong.

Back-to-back wins were on the menu for Erigaisi several games later as he extended his lead to three points. The second of these wins was an ominous sign for Caruana, who failed to capitalize on a series of mistakes from Erigaisi and eventually lost the game.

A single win was the only reprieve Caruana could find in the 5+1 segment though it provided little solace as Erigaisi was able to respond with a riposte of his own in the ninth and final game before the break, flagging Caruana in an even endgame.

Caruana later talked about how his match strategy had to change after Erigaisi’s remarkable run in the early stages, remarking: “… before the match, I thought [the 5+1 segment] might be 50-50, but then I started to reconsider once he started outplaying me in every game.”

Blitz 3|1: Caruana 6-3 Erigaisi 

Staring down a three-point deficit and in need of a resurgence, the experience of Caruana shone through and a blistering run in the 3+1 portion saw him take the lead. A Torre Attack gone wrong for Erigaisi was the beginning of the mammoth momentum swing that went a long way in determining the winner of the match.

A “quiet” version of the Slav Defense was anything but in game 11 and by move 17 a brilliant knight sacrifice was calling for the opening to be renamed. The resulting pin allowed Caruana to stack the queenside with attacking pieces and Erigaisi was left flailing.

Four straight wins for Caruana meant that Erigaisi’s lead had completely dissipated, and just over two hours into the match, Caruana took the lead for the first time.

A flash of artistry from Erigaisi allowed him to even the scores in the 16th game and a second win then pushed him in front once more. The lead was short-lived though and Caruana didn’t let the Indian player run away on the scoreboard again.

Bullet 1|1: Caruana 5.5-3.5 Erigaisi

In classic Speed Chess Championship fashion, the bullet portion decided the winner on Wednesday and it was Caruana who stepped up to the mark and came out in front. The pair traded blows throughout the portion and kept within a single point of each other for the most part, contrasting the imbalanced ebb and flow that characterized the early stages of the match.

Caruana scored his most important victory in the penultimate game, which ultimately decided the match.

Deep into a Petroff and with only 10 seconds left on the clock, Erigaisi made a fatal error that would leave Caruana with a one-point buffer heading into the final game. Our Game of the Day has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Caruana was able to secure the result with a smooth win in the final game on Wednesday and booked himself a quarterfinal spot in the Speed Chess Championship, as well as $3,074.07. Erigaisi eared $925.93 for his efforts.

Should World Champion Magnus Carlsen overcome GM Gukesh D in their round of 16 encounter, a mouthwatering clash would await the former world championship combatants.

All Games – Round of 16

Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket

The 2022 Speed Chess Championships Main Event will begin on the 21st of November and conclude on the 16th of December. Top speed-chess players will compete at three different time controls in a 16-player knockout as they vie for a share of the $100,000 prize fund along with the most prestigious title in online chess.

The likes of GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Ding Liren, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and many more will battle it out to determine the 2022 speed chess champion.

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