GMs Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Praggnanadhaa R., and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won their respective matches in the first round of the Oslo Esports Cup—no tiebreaks were necessary. Both Carlsen and Praggnanadhaa needed only three games to win their matches with a 2.5/3 score, while Giri and Mamedyarov won their matches in four games.
The Polish GM and FIDE World Cup 2021 winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda didn’t manage to score well against the world champion mainly due to his persistent time management difficulties, while Giri and GM Eric Hansen started quite civilized making several draws.
Mamedyarov and Vietnamese speed chess specialist GM Le Quang Liem battled out their match intensively, and prodigy teen Praggnanandhaa courageously won his first match of the event after only three of the four scheduled games against GM Jorden van Foreest.
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The action started with all eyes on game one between Carlsen and Duda. The Norwegian decided to go for a Sicilian Defense line with the black pieces that promised a dynamic game, though this was an unusual pick for him as he had only played this concrete line five times before, once even losing with it to GM Hikaru Nakamura in a blitz game.
Overall the game was an exciting battle between two confident-looking players with the evaluation bar favoring Duda’s position very often. By taking a positional approach he delayed castling a bit too long, thus making him lose several tempi to get his king into safety.
The world champion took advantage of this and managed to build pressure with the game continuing more or less balanced, though. When Duda finally came into time trouble, the mini-match was decided in Carlsen’s favor after he went for pushing his two passed pawns on the queenside as there was no way for his opponent to stop them without losing too much material.
Carlsen played the remarkable 1.f3 as the first move in one of the games that ended in a draw. His comments:
“I planned to play that regardless, I’ve been trying to experiment to see what first moves you can make playable. But I cannot say that experience was too successful because I didn’t remember what to do and had to improvise. I’ve definitely been trying to play creatively in many of these events so I intend to continue that. Not as a rule, but once in a while and I think it’s been working pretty well getting my opponents a little out of book and keeping them on their toes.”
Praggnanandhaa-Van Foreest: 2.5-0.5
The young Indian prodigy beat van Foreest in the first game of their match as Black and already achieved a superior position after the opening. Both players navigated bravely through a complicated position with van Foreest being slightly worse, objectively. Praggnanandhaa was forced to play very accurately, thus, consuming valuable time.
The Dutch player managed to push the evaluation bar in his favor achieving solid equality, clearly enjoying his time advantage. The game continued with van Foreest having difficulties breaking through with his advantage, finding himself in an inferior position against Praggnanandhaa, who kept calm rocking in his black player chair—even with very little time left on his clock—and managed to hold the position with this intense game ending in a draw.
Van Foreest commented on his draw with Black that it was “Ok” but at the same time expressed that he was under certain pressure as in the next game he’d be playing with the white pieces. A justified worry as he lost the whole match to Praggnanandhaa in the mentioned game.
The last game of the match between Hansen (with White) and Giri started very balanced with the Dutch grandmaster potentially playing to exchange as many pieces as possible to secure him the draw he needed to win the match. After an inaccuracy from Giri, the evaluation line favored Hansen’s position, but the Canadian player failed to find the critical response so the game continued more or less balanced and headed to a draw.
The Vietnamese grandmaster Le had some difficult hours playing against Mamedyarov. “It was a tough day”, he said and added: “I had good chances in my white games, but in one I basically had a mouse slip that was very misfortunate.”
It’s not immediately clear which move was a mouse slip in this game:
Day one ended with two early decisive matches as Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa won theirs after only three of the four scheduled mini-matches. The fights between Giri and Hansen, and Mamedyarov and Le were decided in the last round of the day with Giri and Mamedyarov resulting in the winners respectively. Thus, no nerve-consuming tiebreaks were necessary on the first day.
Oslo Esports Cup Day 1 Standings
All Games Day 1
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.