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CCT Finals R1: Carlsen and So make a dominant start

by Shahid Ahmed - 26/09/2021

Magnus Carlsen started the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals with 16.5 point lead over Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The bonus points is from the entire tour performance of this season. Duda has a monumental task in front of him if he wants to win the event. A loss against Carlsen did not help his situation either, as the world champion moved to 19.5 points in the points table. Wesley So is the only other player who won his match in the rapid, thus he also gained 3 points, taking his points tally to 15.5 points. The next player in the points table is Aronian at 9 points. Round 2 starts tonight at 8:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess

Giri beats Nakamura

Carlsen and So beat their opponents Duda and Mamedyarov respectively without the need of tie-breaks. Vachier-Lagrave played and won the sole Armageddon of Round 1 against Aronian. A player can win a maximum of 3 points per match, which means as the tournament progresses, it will be difficult for anyone to catch Carlsen apart from So if the world champion continues his momentum.

Carlsen beat Duda in Round 1 | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess

Carlsen - Duda: 2.5-0.5

Carlsen made a short work of Duda in just 18 moves in the first game.

Carlsen - Duda, Game 1

Position after 13...Nf6

13...Nf6 may seem unassuming at a first glance, however it invites a lot of trouble 14.Ne5 Qa5. Thus, 13...Qc7 in the first place would have been a better choice. 15.Rg3 Kh8 16.Bg5 h6 17.Bxh6 gxh6 18.Qf3 and Black resigned. 15...Ne8 would have only delayed the inevitable. Carlsen took 1-0 lead in against Duda.

The world champion played aggressively right out of the opening against Duda in the second game.

Duda - Carlsen, Game 2

Position after 14...f4

Carlsen made his intentions very clear with 14...f4. Things escalated in the middlegame when Duda got some substantial advantage.

Position after 25...Bf6

The game continued 26.Bxf4 Bxc3 27.Bxd6 Bd4 28.f4 Bxg1 and now White had to play 29.Rxg1 to keep things in his favor. However, Duda opted for 29.Bxe5 and the position turned completely against him. 29.Be5 Nf6 30.fxg5 Ng4 and it was all over for White. Even after 29...Nf6, 30.Bxf6 or Rxg1 would have kept White in the game. Carlsen won the second consecutive game, thus he gained a 2-0 lead. He is now just a draw away from winning the first round against Duda.

Duda repeated moves and drew the third game in just 19 moves. It means Carlsen won the first round 2.5-0.5 against Duda and he bagged three points for the win.

Duda had a tough start | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

So - Mamedyarov: 3-1

The first game between So and Mamedyarov was drawn. So won the second game. Thus So gained a 1.5-0.5 lead.

They drew the third game and So won the fourth one. Thus, So defeated Mamedyarov 3-1 to gain three points.

Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave: 3-4*

Aronian won the first game convincingly against Vachier-Lagrave.

Second and third game were drawn, which means Vachier-Lagrave was in a must-win situation to force tie-breaks as Aronian had a 2-1 lead.

Vachier-Lagrave - Aronian, Game 4

Position after 41.Nf3

Aronian needed a draw to win the first round. 41...Nfxe4 and he stays out of danger. However, he played 41...Ncxe4 and Vachier-Lagrave got the opportunity he needed, 42.Qa2 Qf8 things more difficult for Black. The Frenchman won the game, tied the score 2-2 and forced tie-breaks.

MVL won the first Blitz tie-break comfortably, putting Aronian in a must-win situation.

Aronian won a wild second Blitz tie-break to force Armageddon.

Vachier-Lagrave won an interesting Armageddon which Aronian was completely winning. In the end, lost his queen in time scramble.

Radjabov - Artemiev: 2.5-3.5

All four rapid games were drawn. Although Artemiev had some chances in the final moments of the fourth game.

Artemiev won the first Blitz tie-break

Artemiev - Radjabov, Blitz 1

Position after 29...Qxb3

29...Qxb3 is a mistake. Find out why.

Radjabov, being in a must-win situation, tried his best but could not break Artemiev's defenses, could only manage a draw in the second blitz tie-break. He lost the round 1 encounter against Artemiev 2.5-3.5. Artemiev won 2 points and Radjabov got 1 as the result got decided in tie-breaks.

Giri - Nakamura: 3.5-2.5

Giri lost the first game against Nakamura as he misplayed in the endgame.

Giri - Nakamura, Game 1

Position after 39...Bc2

40.Nf3 would have made sure White does not look an extra pawn. Even if Black traded the knights, the resultant opposite color bishop endgame should be relatively easier to hold, being a pawn behind. The game continued 40.Bxc5 Bxb3 41.Nf3 Nd3 42.Bd4 Bxc4 and Black gained a pawn which eventually cost White the game.

The second game was an exciting draw. Giri delivered the equalizer in the third game, after Nakamura made a tactical error.

Giri - Nakamura, Game 3

Position after 21...Nb2

Find out why 21...Nb2 is a blunder. 21...Bxc2 would have been a better continuation for Black.

A quick draw in the fourth game forced Blitz tie-breaks. Giri made a great escape in the first Blitz tie-break game.

Giri played an outstanding positional game in the second blitz tie-break which ended with Nakamura blundering his rook for free. Giri won the round 3.5-2.5 which means he won 2 points and Nakamura got 1 point.

Anish's celebration, Nakamura's despair | Video: ChessBase India

* - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won Armageddon.

Replay Round 1 games

Replay the live stream

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Round 1 - Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal | Video: ChessBase India

Round 1 results

Carlsen, So, MVL, Artemiev and Giri won their first round match | Photo: chess24

Standings after Round 1

Carlsen maintains his lead 19.5 points | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Format

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals 2021 format | Photo: chess24

Prizes

The winner of the Final will earn US$ 100000 and the total tour prize fund is US$ 1640000.

The prize fund | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Schedule

All games will start from 8:30 p.m. IST between 25th September and 4th October 2021. Rest day is on 30th September 2021.

Schedule for the Finals | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Links

Champions Chess Tour official site

Tournament regulations


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