GM Magnus Carlsen won the FTX Crypto Cup on Sunday despite losing his final match in a tiebreak to GM Praggnanandhaa R., who thereby secured second place in the tournament. GM Alireza Firouzja finished in third place.
In what was a dream finale for the tournament, the two dominating players were paired against each other on the last day. Neither of them played at their very best, but the fight was definitely entertaining.
After two draws, Carlsen won the third game, with which he clinched tournament victory because even if he would lose his remaining games, he would get a point for reaching the tiebreak. And that’s exactly what happened: Pragg levelled the score and then won both games in the blitz tiebreak.
Although not terrible according to the engine, 16…b5 in the fourth rapid game seemed too frivolous by Carlsen, who admitted lacking motivation by that point. “I think Magnus just wanted to have more fun, that’s it,” said Praggnanandhaa. “This 16…b5 is unnecessary. I think he just wanted to have fun and try to beat me.”
Carlsen was about to force an armageddon as he got a completely winning position in the second blitz game. But then he unexpectedly collapsed, first missing a winning tactic and then blundering one more time:
Afterward, Carlsen said: “I was feeling terrible today; I didn’t get enough sleep, I was just not in good shape. I’m very happy and relieved to have won the tournament. Obviously I would have wished to have done better today, it’s really kind of embarrassing to lose the last three games but overall the emotions are obviously positive. I wish that I could have kept my level going right till the very end. I didn’t but nevertheless it’s a great result.”
Firouzja was “best of the rest,” in fact by reaching the same score as Praggnanandhaa but getting edged out on the first tiebreak, which was mutual score. The French-Iranian grandmaster drew three games with GM Levon Aronian and then won the fourth:
GM Anish Giri again didn’t have a good “major” and said he needs to investigate why he is performing worse in this round-robin format compared to the other one, with preliminaries followed by a knockout.
What didn’t help was that before his second game with GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Giri got locked out of his hotel room which prevented him from preparing (as in, memorizing) some opening moves. Making a reference to one of the Niemann interviews, the Dutchman commented:
“I’m not going to say ‘I think this is ridiculous and it shouldn’t be happening!’ but I’m honestly not sure if I would have repeated that particular line because there were a few other things that he might do and I don’t know if I was in the mood to repeat a lot of lines anyway, but that file was open so I could have. Anyway, I got a fine position and I lost more than one game today so it was not the reason for my loss. Yesterday I wasn’t locked out of my room and anyway I lost so it’s not the reason but still it’s kind of funny that when things are not going your way, many details slip away like that.”
Here’s that second game, where Giri lost quickly:
Duda: “I think I was in pretty bad shape so actually it’s pretty nice that I managed to win almost against anyone.”
Asked if he understands Niemann’s frustrations, Giri quipped: “I think the frustrations are mainly mine because I am not able to crush the tournament and was not able to crush the interviews. I don’t have a field where I can dominate anymore!”
Poor GM Hans Niemann ended up losing all his matches. He was mildly positive for making it to four games in the last day, saying: “I don’t think my morale is completely crushed so that’s at least progress.”
GM Le Quang Liem, who won two games, lost one and drew one, said about his last match: “In reality, today wasn’t so smooth because the first game I should have lost. Also this last game, at some point I was worse. But it was a very interesting game. I suppose he should be able to make a draw in the endgame but he was low on time. Very difficult.”
Here’s game four:
All games round 7
FTX Crypto Cup | Final Standings
|4||Le Quang Liem||2775||12|
The FTX Crypto Cup, the sixth event in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, took place August 15-21, 2022 on chess24. The format was a round-robin among eight players, who played a match of four rapid games (15+10) in each round. The winner earned $7,500 and three points. In the case of a tie, a two-game blitz tiebreak was played (5+3), followed by an armageddon game (5 vs. 4). In that case, the winner earned $5,000 and two points; the loser, $2,500 and one point. The prize fund was $210,000 plus an additional $100,000 tied to the price of Bitcoin.