Carlsen Increases Lead Before Facing Praggnanandhaa In Final Round

GM Magnus Carlsen increased his lead at the FTX Crypto Cup to two points on Saturday thanks to beating GM Alireza Firouzja in the tiebreak. The leader will face the runner-up in Sunday’s final round: Praggnanandhaa R., who lost to GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

Carlsen-Firouzja 3.5-2.5

This clash started with a bang as both players won their white game in rather crushing style. Especially Firouzja’s win, where he used a lovely rook maneuver against an off-beat line from¬† Carlsen, was nice. While getting totally outplayed, Carlsen kept on smiling and as it turned out, during the game he was listening to Norwegian comedy on his earphones.

Things calmed down a bit with two draws, when the players moved on to a blitz tiebreak. Carlsen won the first game fairly smoothly, but the second game was quite different. “I was under pressure the whole time, Carlsen said. “I feel like I’ve had the same thing against him a couple of times in Norway Chess already, that it just gets way out of hand. At some point I was just dead lost but, you know, you fight till the end!””

Duda-Praggnanandhaa 4-2

Because Praggnanandhaa lost, Carlsen’s lead is now two points which means that the world champion secures tournament victory if he makes it to the tiebreak on Sunday. Pragg’s task is to beat his illustrious opponent in the rapid segment.

Duda won’t be winning the tournament, but at least he can say that he beat the top two players. Similar to his battle with Carlsen the other day, the Polish GM could have decided his match with Praggnanandhaa in the rapid, but eventually did so in the blitz.

It helped that, in the first blitz game, Pragg blundered into a mate-in-one in a winning position:

Jan-Krzysztof Duda FTX Crypto
Jan-Krzysztof Duda defeated both Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

Le-Giri 2.5-0.5

It took a few days for GM Le Quang Liem to get into shape, but after beating Praggnanandhaa convincingly with 2.5-0.5, he defeated GM Anish Giri with the same score. The first game saw some wild tactics and an evaluation bar that went crazy:

Aronian-Niemann 2.5-1.5

GM Hans Niemann also lost his sixth match to GM Levon Aronian despite, once again, starting with an excellent win in the first game: 

Aronian then won both of his white games and drew the one in between. The first win was quite nice:

Levon Aronian FTX Crypto
Aronian: “I talked to myself before the game just to play on instinct without really calculating much and it worked out. When you’re not in a good shape and you’re blundering a lot, at some point you just have to rely on your instincts.” Image: Champions Chess Tour.

All games round 6

FTX Crypto Cup | Round 6 Standings












# Fed Name Rtg Pts
1 Magnus Carlsen 2822 15
2 Praggnanandhaa R. 2751 13
3 Alireza Firouzja 2793 12
4 Le Quang Liem 2775 9
5-6 Levon Aronian 2793 8
5-6 Jan-Krzyztof Duda 2792 8
7 Anish Giri 2783 7
8 Hans Niemann 2615 0

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


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