GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa emerged as the sole and unbeaten leader of the Oslo Esports Cup after day two with six points, followed by GM Anish Giri with four points. Behind him stand GMs Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Jorden van Foreest, and Le Quang Liem with three points. At the end of the line, we find GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda with two points, followed by the Canadian streamer and GM Eric Hansen with no points yet. Tiebreaks were necessary to decide the match between Giri and Duda.
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The world champion arrived fashionably late to his games and left his opponent often waiting. The Norwegian eventually opened with 1.Nf3 and opted for the very flexible Reti Opening. Carlsen, not looking very well today, took what seemed to be a long power nap during his game before going for some action on the queenside to try and destabilize his opponent’s pawn structure. Le’s plans were many times frustrated by odd moves like 22.Qd1 by the world’s number-one player.
Both players continued to attack each other’s weaknesses until multiple piece exchanges left Black with a pawn less. The Norwegian improved the position but suddenly hung his queen with a mouse slip (he likely intended 39.Qd4, which would have drawn with perpetual check), and with his opponent only having seconds left on the clock!
Le won his first full point in the event, taking the lead in his match against Carlsen. Le commented that he was “totally shocked” and “expected a different queen move.” He added that his opponent’s blunder was “very unfortunate, but it happens in online chess.” Although Carlsen won his next game with White, he lost the last one with the black pieces and thus his entire match with Le.
After a painful loss in his first game with Black, Mamedyarov tried to take revenge with White in his second game against the young Indian GM. The position on the board soon resulted in a Semi-Tarrasch position.
The game continued with a rigorous battle for central control, pawn pushes and rooks maneuvering to rather unusual squares. Mamedyarov weakened his structure with 20.Ba4, but Praggnanandhaa didn’t take advantage of it and the position returned to equality. Several exchanges led to a very balanced queen endgame. The game ended in a calm draw after a perpetual check by Azerbaijan’s number one, leading to a 1.5-0.5 score.
The 16-year-old Indian prodigy won the next game and the match with a score of 2.5 to 0.5.
Hansen-Van Foreest: 1.5-2.5
Both players visibly tried to fight back today after experiencing painful losses on the first day of the event. Especially Hansen was ready “for a new day with a fresh start,” but this didn’t work out very well for him. He entered the third game of his match against the Dutch GM in a must-win situation as he had lost the previous two. One of those losses was against Van Foreest’s novelty 12.Kd2? in the second game, which confused even the event’s commentators for a long moment, as it wasn’t clear if it was another mouse slip on the show or an intentional move.
Unfortunately, Hansen already found himself in trouble after move 15, when White began gaining space on the kingside with 15.g4. Van Foreest started trying to open the h-file to throw all of his munition toward Hansen’s king. The Dutchman, though, made an inaccuracy by declining to take a free pawn, but the Canadian failed to punish him for it. Van Foreest went on to win the game.
In the third game, when it looked most scary for Hansen, Van Foreest committed a terrible blunder with 24…Kb8??, sending the evaluation bar in the streamer’s favor. No hope was left for the Dutch player, and Hansen went to win his first game of the day. He now needed a win in the last game (with the black pieces) to force tiebreaks. Unfortunately for Hansen, this didn’t happen as Van Foreest drew their last game and secured the match.
The most uneventful score of the day—until game four—was the one between Giri and Duda, the first three games ending in draws. Their fourth game started with some active exchanges in the Grunfeld Opening and a queen exchange on move 12, leaving White perhaps slightly better. The evaluation fluctuated in favor of both players during the middlegame but came to a balanced value after they exchanged bishops and some pawns.
Maneuvers and exchanges with the rooks followed and the players found themselves in a drawish endgame with a rook and four pawns for each side. The players quickly agreed to a draw and to fight in the playoffs.
Both players fought strongly in the tiebreaks, but Duda won both games to take the match.
Oslo Esports Cup Day 2 Standings
All Games Day 2
The Champions Chess Tour consists of six regular events with 16 players and three majors with eight players. Regular events adopt a 3-1-0 score, where players who win get three points, players who draw get 1, and losers get 0. Major events, on the other hand, adopt a 3-2-1-0 score system, similar to the 3-2-1 system described above but with one difference: players who win on tiebreaks get 2 points while tiebreak losers get 1.
The Oslo Esports Cup is the first major of the tour: a round-robin among eight players, with each round consisting of four-game matches (15|10) each day which advance to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks in case of a tie.
The 2022 Champions Chess Tour’s first Major, the Oslo Esports Cup, runs April 22-28 on chess24. The format consists of one four-game match every day for each player. Play advances to blitz (5+3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black has four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a match ends in a tie. The total prize fund for the event is $210,000, with each win in the regular games earning the player $7,500. Each win in the tiebreaks earns the winner $5,000, with $2,500 going to the loser.