GM Magnus Carlsen finished the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals in style as he also won his seventh and final match, against GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The world champion scored a stunning 20/21, seven points more than runner-up GM Wesley So.
Earlier in the tournament, the Carlsen-Duda pairing in the final round was a mouth-watering perspective. In the last few rounds the Polish grandmaster ran out of steam, giving Carlsen the chance to secure tournament victory with a round to spare. This was an advantageous situation for the winner, who said: “Today was just a pleasure to play, knowing I had it in the bag and I could just relax.”
Carlsen was critical of his two white games, where he didn’t show his best chess but got away with two draws. As he had won the second game as Black, he only needed a draw in game four, but tried to win it anyway.
“There was a moment in the last game where, after he went for 39.Bb2 I was thinking, 39…Nxe3+ followed by 40…Nc4 was an immediate draw, but then I thought, you know, it’s the last game of the season, let’s try and end on a high note but I didn’t really manage to convert it so I had to force a draw but then he had to go for a draw of course, but what he did just lost instead.”
As the winner of the Finals, Carlsen claimed a “bonus” first prize of $50,000 in San Francisco. Together with his first place in the overall standings, the world champion collected $242,400 in total Tour earnings, while his opponent Duda won $162,500 for second place.
So cannot be found in the Tour leaderboard (see below) as he only played in the Finals, where his second place was good for $32,500. He ended up losing his last match to GM Anish Giri but because his main rivals also lost, So kept his second place.
“It was a very fun match,” said So, after a battle that had gone the full seven games, including an armageddon where he had the white pieces. “I think we both played very solidly in the rapid format but in the blitz the games were very ‘interesting’ [laughs] and also in the armageddon it was back and forth, crazy. I was trying to flag him but it didn’t work out.”
Giri: “Today I’ve accomplished all of my goals. First of all I didn’t lose the match in three games, secondly, I played one good game, and third, the goal I couldn’t even have dreamt of: that I won the match. It’s true redemption for me.”
Here’s the armageddon game, which saw a crazy time-scramble:
The all-Indian match between GM Praggnanandhaa R. and GM Arjun Erigaisi was won by the two years younger Pragg. Both won a game, and one ended in a draw, when Erigaisi was tricked in the opening in game four.
“He fell for this trap with 12…c5 13.Rxa6! which is supposed to be very bad for Black,” knew Praggnanandhaa. “This exchange sac is very good compensation and it’s almost close to winning for White.”
GM Le Quang Liem ended in fourth place in both the overall Tour and the Finals. In the final round, the Vietnamese GM beat GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov three times, versus one lost game. The first game saw a fascinating, study-like final phase:
|4||Le Quang Liem||2775||11||$25,000|
All games day 7
Final Tour Standings
|1||Magnus Carlsen||$242,500||9||Ding Liren||$50,500|
|2||Jan-Krzysztof Duda||$162,500||10||Jorden van Foreest||$38,000|
|3||Praggnanandhaa R.||$129,000||11||Alireza Firouzja||$37,500|
|4||Le Quang Liem||$123,000||12||Wesley So||$32,500|
|5||Anish Giri||$89,250||13||Richard Rapport||$29,500|
|6||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov||$80,500||14||Wei Yi||$27,750|
|7||Levon Aronian||$63,000||15||Eric Hansen||$26,250|
|8||Arjun Erigaisi||$62,250||16||Vincent Keymer||$24,000|
The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals took place November 14-20, 2022 on chess24. The format was an eight-player round-robin; each round had four-game rapid matches, and the winner got three points. The time control was 15 minutes for each game plus a 10-second increment. A tiebreak followed immediately in case of a 2-2 tie and in that case, the winner got two points and the loser, one.