FTX Crypto Cup QF Day 1: Carlsen and Nakamura engage in a brutal slugfest
When Carlsen and Nakamura are paired in a knockout stage, you can expect some exciting games, be it the Finals or Quarter-Finals. The match of the day of the first set of Quarter-Finals in Meltwater Champions Chess Tour FTX Crypto Cup certainly goes to Carlsen-Nakamura. The only match which had all decisive results and no dull 100+ move draws. Carlsen himself admitted getting crushed by Nakamura in the third game and not enjoying the fact of getting into must-win situations often in this event. Caruana tied the first set 2-2 with Nepomniachtchi. Watch Quarter-Finals action continue tonight on ChessBase India youtube channel from 8:30 p.m. IST. with live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal. Photo: Amruta Mokal
Giri and Vachier-Lagrave in a must-win situation
Carlsen and Nakamura traded blows in the first set of the Quarter-Finals. Both players won two games each to tie the first set 2-2. Caruana barely managed to save the first set after winning a must-win fourth game to level the score 2-2. After making three draws, Radjabov beat Giri to win the first set 2.5-1.5. So made two solid draws with Vachier-Lagrave before winning the next two games to win the first set by 1-3.
Caruana has been consistent in the entire Prelims | Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE
Caruana - Nepomniachtchi: 2-2
Nepomniachtchi got an early opportunity to gain a substantial advantage against Caruana.
Nepomniachtchi - Caruana, Game 1
Black's pieces are not well coordinated. How can white exploit that fact to its advantage?
Later in the endgame, Caruana made a rare mistake of putting the pawns in the same color as his bishop, naturally it became that much more difficult to play and Nepomniachtchi had no difficulty converting his advantage into a victory.
Nepomniachtchi played a bit passively in the second game but Caruana did not seize the opportunity.
Caruana - Nepomniachtchi, Game 2
24...Be8 is uncalled for. Instead 24...Ba3 followed by Bb2, Bb5 active play would have been better. Caruana continued with 25.Rfe1 Rh6 but then he did not follow through. What was the plan white should have gone with? The game eventually ended up in a draw.
Third game was a well-fought draw.
Caruana won a topsy-turvy fourth game to level the set 2-2.
Caruana - Nepomniachtchi, Game 4
One of the final mistake in the game was 46...h4. Black still would have had some fighting chances if he did not push the h-pawn.
So - Vachier-Lagrave: 3-1
First game was a solid draw. Vachier-Lagrave missed a tactical opportunity against So in the second game.
So - Vachier-Lagrave, Game 2
19.0-0 is a blunder. Find out why. Black missed his opportunity and continued with 19...Bxe2.
Vachier-Lagrave misplayed against So in the third game.
Vachier-Lagrave - So, Game 3
22.Bc3 does not add anything to the position for white, in fact it only allows black to launch an onslaught on the kingside. So scored the first win and took 1-2 lead.
So completely outplayed Vachier-Lagrave in the fourth game to win the first set 3-1.
Nakamura - Carlsen: 2-2
Carlsen's passive play was correctly punished by Nakamura in the first game.
Nakamura - Carlsen, Game 1
16...Bd5 would have made sure that things are in control for black, however 16...Ne7 shifts the balance of power to white as 17.Bg5 pins the knight. Everything still would have been fine if black had played 17...c6 but it all fell apart after 17...h6. Find out why it is a mistake.
Carlsen immediately struck back and leveled the score 1-1.
Carlsen - Nakamura, Game 2
When Carlsen plays 15.Bxh6, you know that he is playing for win only. After 15...gxh6 16.Qxh6 Bf5 17.Re5 it is clear that white is winning but what was the better defence instead of 16...Bf5 ? It is certainly not easy to find. The world champion won the game and leveled the score 1-1.
Nakamura won the third game after Carlsen played uncharacteristically and arrived at a lost endgame.
Nakamura - Carlsen, Game 3
Things have gone terribly wrong for black so much that even 25...e3 does not help black. Nakamura once again took the lead 2-1.
Sometimes one tiny inaccuracy can have a ripple effect which just snowballs out of control. Something like that happened in Nakamura's fourth game against Carlsen.
Carlsen - Nakamura, Game 4
15...Bg6 at a first glance might seem to be an unassuming move but only a careful calculation can reveal how bad it could possibly be. Carlsen slowly exploited it to his advantage and won the game to level the first set 2-2.
Radjabov - Giri: 2.5-1.5
The first game was a 161-move long dull draw when the result was obvious after just 30 moves. Radjabov got a couple of good opportunities in the second game but he missed them all.
Radjabov - Giri, Game 2
What white should not do here is exchange rooks because it is quite obvious that white's rook and bishop are much more active compared to black's rook and knight. White just needs to bring his king in the action starting with 28.Kf2. However 28.Rc8+ reduced white's chances to get a decisive result.
White can still win this. Find out how. The game went on with 47.Kf6 which allowed black to salvage a draw.
Third game was an uneventful draw. Giri made a tactical error which cost him the fourth game.
Radjabov - Giri, Game 4
16...Nxd4 was a bit early. Black needed to play 16...Bf4 then things would be less unpleasant for black.
The game went on with 19.Qxd4. However there was a quicker and much more direct win here for white. What is it? Thus Radjabov won the first set 2.5-1.5
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Quarter-Final Day 1 results
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