Armageddon: Clear wins for Gukesh and Duda

by ChessBase
9/15/2023 – The Armageddon Championship Series: Grand Finale began on September 14 at the World Chess Club in Berlin. In an evening filled with suspense and strategic brilliance, Gukesh D and Jan-Krzysztof Duda emerged as victors, each securing a commanding 2-0 win against their formidable opponents, Wesley So and Sam Shankland. | Photo: World Chess

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Press release by World Chess

Wesley So — Gukesh

In the opening match of the Grand Finale against Gukesh, Wesley So encountered an early stumbling block. As observed by GM Simon Williams, So “fell into a trap” in the opening, causing the evaluation bar to skyrocket in favour of White. Before long, the American found himself in an almost untenable position, ultimately conceding the game.

The second game featured an Italian opening, with Gukesh adopting an aggressive yet somewhat reckless approach. Remarkably, he only needed a draw to advance to the next round of the winner’s bracket. However, as IM Jovanka Houska aptly noted, chess is a game played by two individuals, and Wesley So missed a golden opportunity to seize an early advantage.

As the clock ticked down and both players grappled with extreme time pressure, the position spiraled into chaos. In a critical juncture, So blundered once more, this time sacrificing an entire piece and, with it, the second game and the match, which ended 2-0 in Gukesh’s favor. Reflecting on the intense battle, Wesley So shared his thoughts with Dina Belenkaya, saying: “Gukesh played like a machine today! [...] I was also a bit nervous because it’s the first day!”

The match undoubtedly brimmed with tension, as indicated by the heart rates of the players, which soared above 130 beats per minute, with Wesley So even peaking at 165!

Dommaraju Gukesh

Dommaraju Gukesh

Jan-Krzysztof Duda — Sam Shankland

Sam Shankland, ever eager to embrace challenges, found himself living up to that reputation during game 1 of the Duda-Shankland match. As GM Simon Williams had prophetically noted, the game quickly evolved into an exceptionally demanding contest for Sam. Despite holding a favourable position, Duda relentlessly pressed for an exchange advantage, ultimately executing a decisive tactical blow to secure victory in the opening game.

Sam initiated a positional opening, opting for the English, which seamlessly transitioned into the closed Catalan. Duda, conscious of his advantageous position in the match, adopted a cautious approach, aiming for a draw. In stark contrast, Sam adopted a win-or-lose mentality from the outset.

As the middlegame unfolded, Sam recognized the superior nature of his position. However, despite this recognition, he struggled to harness the advantage and found himself grappling with mounting time pressure. Regrettably, the American Grandmaster blundered an exchange, leading to his resignation just a few moves later, ultimately conceding the second game and the match.“If you say it’s bad luck, then you suck! I’ll just say it was a bad day at the office”, Sam Shankland told Dina Belenkaya after his loss, adding that he lost the first match in the qualifiers event but managed to bounce back, so this is exactly what he’s going to do.Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Sam Shankland

The battle begins

Video webcast

Day 2 pairings

Nodirbek Abdusattorov — Richard Rapport,
Humpy Koneru — Bibisara Assaubayeva

The broadcast starts at 19:00 CEST.


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