Carlsen Goes Undefeated vs. Nakamura, Advances With Nepomniachtchi, Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov

Carlsen Goes Undefeated vs. Nakamura, Advances With Nepomniachtchi, Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov


GMs Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov advance in the Division I Winners Bracket of the 2023 AI Cup after winning their quarterfinal matches on day one.

With echoes from the finish of their SCC Final match, Carlsen defeated GM Hikaru Nakamura in just three games. Nepomniachtchi also only needed three games to triumph against GM Anish Giri. Vachier-Lagrave took down his higher-ranked compatriot, GM Alireza Firouzja. Mamedyarov won the intergenerational battle vs. GM Denis Lazavik.

In Division II, eight players advance to the Winners Quarterfinals. One hard-fought match was GM Jan-Krzystztof Duda‘s victory over GM Hans Niemann

After two rounds in Division III, 32 competitors have been narrowed down to eight in the Winners Quarterfinals. GM Jose Martinez beat GM Vladimir Kramnik with a poisoned pawn trap. 

The knockout tournament continues on Tuesday, September 25, starting at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 20:30 IST.

See what happened

Division I

Since this is the last CCT event of the regular season, the upcoming in-person Finals loom over every move. Seven qualification spots have been claimed―Carlsen, Nakamura, Lazavik, Firouzja, GMs Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Fabiano Caruana, and Wesley So―while one spot remains up for grabs. Who are the top contenders? 

Since GM Levon Aronian is not competing, GM Vladimir Fedoseev has chances to pass him, but he can only gain a maximum of 50 tour points from Division II. This means that if Nepomniachtchi, Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave, or Giri win Division I, they can leapfrog into eighth. Because so many more points are available in Division I, Nepomniachtchi or Mamedyarov could also potentially qualify with second- or third-place finishes.

Day 1 Match Scores

Carlsen-Nakamura 2.5-0.5

The legendary rivalry between Carlsen and Nakamura continues. At the close of last year, Nakamura defeated Carlsen in the Speed Chess Championship Final to win his fifth title. Carlsen retaliated by beating Nakamura in the Airthings Masters Final, the first Champions Chess Tour event of 2023. Nakamura gained vengeance in the Bullet Chess Championship Final, impressing even Carlsen with his mastery of that format. Days ago, Carlsen struck back again by claiming his second SCC title while interrupting Nakamura’s five-year winning streak. 

Less than 72 hours later and these relentless players are matched up again.

The duel kicked off with a taste of classic Carlsen, turning an even ending into a victory. Carlsen outmaneuvered Nakamura in the subtleties of a minor piece endgame. 

In game two, as the tactics began to turn against him in the time scramble, Carlsen gave up his queen, reaching a bishop pair vs. queen ending. To the surprise of all, Nakamura immediately offered a draw.

After the match, Carlsen shared the deep knowledge behind his decision to venture into this ending: “I did feel that it’s probably closer to a draw than to a win for him, especially considering that there’s a famous game Polugaevsky vs. Geller… I guess he was just frustrated and didn’t want to try, but it’s pretty clear that you’re just giving away equity there for no reason.”

With the match on the line, Nakamura tried to show his teeth by pulling out the King’s Indian Defense, but Carlsen’s dynamic piece play seized control of the kingside. It was the 16th world champion who ended up breaking through with a dangerous attack. 

In his interview, Carlsen shared his perspective on his rivalry vs. Nakamura: “In terms of rivals, there are two tiers. The first tier is no rivals, and then a little bit after that is Hikaru. He’s definitely the second after no rivals, I would say.”

Will Nakamura make a comeback in the Losers Bracket and challenge Carlsen’s cheeky remark?

Firouzja-Vachier-Lagrave 1-3

Until Firouzja’s transfer to France in 2021, Vachier-Lagrave was the French number one for a number of years. This gives their matchup particular significance as the country’s top two competitors wrestle for bragging rights. 

Their first game featured resourceful attacking and defensive play by both sides game, leading to a high-quality, balanced fight, ending in a draw. After another draw, Vachier-Lagrave scored the first win of the match. In a Sicilian Najdorf, he held off Firouzja’s kingside attack and then seized the opportunity to counterattack, culminating in a decisive rook sacrifice. This double-edged duel is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Firouzja lost a heartbreaker in the final game. After clawing his way out of a difficult middlegame, he promoted first in a four-queen ending, but mouse slipped and gave away his crucial initiative.

Nepomniachtchi-Giri 2.5-0.5

Nepomniachtchi and Giri are a mere five points away from each other on the live rating list. Giri has a modern, versatile playing style, while Nepomniachtchi favors aggressive play and especially stands out as a fast player, even in classical chess. 

Nepomniachtchi drew the first blood, accurately navigating the dynamics of a double-rook ending. Nepomniachtchi’s habit of playing quickly throughout the game helped him as he amassed a nine-minute lead by the time Giri’s clock ticked under 30 seconds. This gave the two-time challenger ample time to think in the decisive endgame moments while his opponent had to move nearly instantly. In fact, Giri missed a critical opportunity to save the game. Can you find what he overlooked?

Black to move.

Nepomniachtchi won a second game in a row, putting Giri in a must-win position for the rest of the match. Once again, Nepomniachtchi had an overwhelming time edge of over seven minutes vs. mere seconds for the Dutch number one. Up a pawn in the ending, Nepomniachtchi invited his opponent’s knight onto his side of the board and then locked it in with teamwork from his king, rook, and knight. 

Needing only a draw with White, Nepomniachtchi played it safe, keeping his pieces centralized, avoiding creating weaknesses, and trading whenever possible. At one moment, a hidden tactical opportunity appeared for Giri, but it came and went unnoticed by the players. Ultimately, Nepomniachtchi doubled his rooks on the seventh and forced a perpetual check.

Mamedyarov-Lazavik 3-2

This was a clash of opposites in more ways than one. At 38, Mamedyarov is more than double the 15-year-old Lazavik’s age. Mamedyarov is also known for his classic attacking style, while Lazavik favors slow, positional games. Which player would be able to imbue the board with the type of game he thrives in?

Starting the match with two level battles, Mamedyarov began to ramp up into his aggressive style in game three with a piece sacrifice to sink his rook into his younger opponent’s kingside. Though Lazavik was able to hold his position together and draw, it was a preview of Mamedyarov’s explosive intentions. 

In game four, Mamedyarov decided to take his chances in a playoff, offering a draw after 15 moves. With White in the armageddon, Mamedyarov dove into a highly unbalanced position, sacrificing two pawns in the opening and focusing all of his forces on generating attacking play. With his bishop pair and greater space, he was able to break through decisively. 

In the semifinals, Nepomniachtchi gets another shot at challenging Carlsen. Meanwhile, Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave, the sixth and seventh highest-ranked players ever, will duke it out. 

Division I Standings

Division II

In a combative matchup, Duda gained the early lead, but Niemann tied up the match in game three. In their final encounter, Duda outmaneuvered his opponent in a symmetrical structure, capitalizing with a tactical insight. 

Duda will take on GM Vladislav Artemiev in the Quarterfinals. 

Division II Standings

Division III

Martinez gained the upper hand against Kramnik in a strategic position by setting up a unique poisoned pawn trap. Despite losing a knight, Kramnik fought on and had chances to save the game in the wild arising duel.

Martinez will face GM Rauf Mamedov in the Quarterfinals. 

Division III Standings

The Champions Chess Tour 2023 (CCT) is the biggest online tournament of the year. It is composed of six events that span the entire year and culminate in live in-person finals. With the best players in the world and a prize fund of $2,000,000, the CCT is’s most important event yet.

Previous Coverage


Source link

Tinggalkan Balasan