Carlsen takes pole position in Miami despite losing to Duda

The FTX Crypto Cup is no longer a two-horse race as both GMs Magnus Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa R. lost their matches in the fifth round. While Pragg fell in three games against GM Le Quang Liem, Carlsen took the lead earning a point for losing to GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the tie-break.

Duda-Carlsen 4-2

Along with three games that only lasted three games, Carlsen and Duda had a most spectacular mini-game that saw six tiebreaks and not a single draw. The Polish general manager, who ended Carlsen’s 125-game unbeaten streak in 2020 and then beat the Norwegian at the 2021 World Cup, has once again proven to be a tough opponent for the champion of the world.

In fact, Duda could have sealed this match in three games as well, having won the first two and secured a close position to victory in the third. Carlsen, who had suffered several tactical lapses by this time, managed to get back into the game and the match.

“It was a horrible game, but it was the result I needed,” Carlsen said.

During this third game, after Black’s 36th move, the internet crashed in the game room following a power outage in the area. This led to a surreal situation, which lasted about 10 minutes, where players could not continue their games if only someone brought them wooden chess sets. Although it happened during his thinking time, Duda made a mistake shortly after the internet came back and then lost the fourth game as well.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda FTX Crypto Cup
Jan-Krzysztof Duda prepares for the tie-break. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

It looked like Carlsen had the momentum here, but it turned out that Duda used the five-minute break well. He came to the game room early, pulled himself together, played chess well, and beat the world champion in both blitz games.

Carlsen was highly critical of his acting, but gave his responses with a smile on his face: “It was so pathetically poor it’s hard to find words. I just couldn’t think. Just a horrible day of ‘chess.”

Here is the first flash match, where Duda won from a lost position:

Le-Pragnanandhaa 2.5-0.5

In what was “a very tense day” according to the Vietnamese grandmaster, Le beat Praggnanandhaa twice after drawing the opener. He felt the second game was the most critical: “I was worse in the opening and he was playing really fast, putting a lot of pressure on. Then at one point I think he pushed too much with that. 35.g4+. Probably he should draw there.”

It turned out that the real error came later:

The Quang Liem FTX Crypto
The stopped Praggnanandhaa’s winning streak. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Firouzja-Niemann 2.5-0.5

GM Hans Niemann’s suffering continued as he lost to GM Alireza Firouzja in dramatic fashion. As a result, Firouzja is only one point behind Praggnanandhaa and only two points behind Carlsen in the standings.

After a draw and a win for Firouzja, Niemann secured a completely winning position in game three but then goofed his queen. “It’s very strange because normally he doesn’t do that. I guess it’s my chance today,” Firouzja said.

Alireza Firouzja FTX Crypto Cup
Alireza Firouzja: “This last match was very low on my part, he played very well.” Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Giri-Aronian 2.5-0.5

“I just got lucky today, he wasn’t at his best,” GM Anish Giri said after beating GM Levon Aronian twice, with a draw in the opener. He was mainly referring to the second game, where Aronian’s loss was self-inflicted:

Luck seemed to be the theme of the day. Giri developed an interesting take on the best chess these days, where the Dutch GM was presumably referring to games with faster time checks:

“Generally the way I look at the best chess is basically like you have to be really talented and work really, really hard and do whatever you can, but by the time you’re actually playing, of course, you have to give your best but the outcome is basically decided by luck Magnus of course is better than the others so he scores better on average but when I play against other peers I have feels like we’ve already done everything and now it’s just a draw of course it’s not JUST a draw, like I’m doing a draw with a random guy and I I’ll beat him, but if you do everything right and you’re a professional chess player, the result will basically be a draw, that’s how I see it.”

Anish Giri Draw
Anish Giri on high-level chess: “Basically a draw.” Image: Champions Chess Tour.

All games round 5

FTX Crypto Cup | Classification of the 5th round

# fed Last name Rtg Points
1 Magnus Carlsen 2822 13
2 Praggnanandhaa R. 2751 12
3 Alireza Firouzja 2793 11
4 Anish Giri 2783 seven
5-6 The Quang Liem 2775 6
5-6 Jan-Krzyztof Duda 2792 6
seven Levon Aronian 2793 5
8 Hans Niemann 2615 0

The FTX Crypto Cup, the sixth event of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, will take place August 15-21, 2022 on chess24. The format is a round robin between eight players, who play a match of four rapid games (15+10) in each round. The winner wins $7,500 and three points. In the event of a tie, a two-match blitz tie-break is played (5+3), followed by an Armageddon match (5 versus 4). In this case, the winner wins $5,000 and two points; the loser, $2,500 and one point. The price is $210,000 plus an additional $100,000 tied to the Bitcoin price.

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