GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda are in a tie for first place at the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals as the only two players to win both of their matches 3-0. GM Anish Giri won his second blitz tiebreak in a row, this time against a GM Praggnanandhaa R.
Still not fully happy with his play (“I’m just missing things!”), Carlsen did get to a perfect start on the second day as he defeated GM Arjun Erigaisi, who was playing 13 and a half hours later in the day. The world champion, however, gave a different reason for why he has been beating the Indian rising star lately.
“I think his openings aren’t good enough,” Carlsen said bluntly. “I think a lot of people, like Pragg for instance, he always puts a lot of pressure in the openings. Arjun doesn’t seem to catch me there. Then it’s not so easy.”
Carlsen won both of his black games and drew the one in between as White. The third game was affected by the score, he argued. “The last game he didn’t want anything too drawish so he played for a win in a position that was a draw,” said Carlsen. “Earlier, after I blundered, he played very well for a while so he was much better but it wasn’t easy to win.”
Duda is the other player on the full six points, after another solid match against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov where the latter didn’t get many chances. “So far I’m quite pleased with my play, hopefully I will play like this till the very end,” said Duda. He doesn’t mind playing late in the evening in Poland (“I’m a night owl”) as he’s still somewhat in the Toronto time zone, where he played the Chess.com Global Chess Championship Finals recently.
With three draws, Duda’s win in game two was the key game:
Giri collected four points so far, as he got two points for each tiebreak win. Against Praggnanandhaa, that was much more than expected as he lost the first two games. He won a good third game, but Praggnanandhaa could have drawn the fourth game at several moments.
“I was of course very lucky,” said Giri. “Winning that is impossible without his enormous help.”
Even in the rook endgame Praggnanandhaa, who was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award earlier in the day for his sports achievements, could have draw in two moments:
Meanwhile, GM Le Quang Liem showed that his fourth place in the current Tour standings is no coincidence. He won convincingly against GM Wesley So, the recent winner of the Chess.com Global Chess Championship who is still on zero points in this event.
“He’s just very strong,” said So. “He played some very good moves. I probably should have won game one, but other than that, I think Liem played a near-perfect match.”
Here’s game three, another instructive rook endgame where So ended up playing until checkmate:
Day 2 Standings
|3-4||Le Quang Liem||2775||4|
All games day 2
The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals take place November 14-20, 2022 on chess24. The format is an eight-player round-robin; each round has four-game rapid matches, and the winner gets three points. The time control is 15 minutes for each game plus a 10-second increment. A tiebreak follows immediately in case of a 2-2 tie and in that case, the winner gets two points and the loser, one.