Charity Cup: Anton wins three in a row to reach knockout

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/23/2022 – The final day of the Charity Cup preliminaries had its fair share of drama, with half the players getting knocked out of the competition after 15 rounds. Praggnanandhaa and Richard Rapport did not make the cut, with Pragg missing winning chances before losing his last game of the prelims against David Anton. Anton, who came from scoring wins in the two previous rounds, climbed all the way up to fourth place thanks to this victory and will face Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the quarterfinals. | Photo: Alina l’Ami

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Le wins prelims, Rapport misses the cut

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2022The first event of the 2022 Champions Chess Tour saw Ian Nepomniachtchi winning the preliminaries with a 29/45 score. In the second tournament of the series, Le Quang Liem managed to score 32 points in as many games to win the Charity Cup prelims. Both times, Magnus Carlsen finished in sole second place.

It is true that Le’s score has to do with the fact that the participants of the Charity Cup had a lower rating average (2693) than the participants of the Airthings Masters (2708), but that does not take away from his remarkable achievement. Le, after all, vastly outscored the likes of Ding Liren, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Richard Rapport — not to mention that he finished ahead of the world champion himself.

With Le and Carlsen easing their way into the knockout, Tuesday’s excitement for the spectators was provided by the fight for the last qualifying spots. Going into the final round, no fewer than five players had between 19 and 21 points, and all of them were one bad result away from being eliminated.

In the end, Vidit, Praggnanandhaa and Rapport were the ones missing the cut, while David Navara and David Anton made it through thanks to wins over Pragg and Ju Wenjun respectively. Particularly impressive was Anton’s performance on day 4, as he scored 3/3 (or 9/9, with the football scoring system) to climb from eleventh to fourth place and get a spot in the quarterfinals.

Navara, Pragg and Rapport all finished on 21/45, but Navara was the one advancing to the knockout stage thanks to his better tiebreak score: a larger number of wins than Rapport and a better Sonneborn-Berger score than Pragg.

Charity Chess Cup 2022

Pragg falls just short

16-year-old Praggnanandhaa entered the final day of the preliminaries a point behind Vidit and Hans Niemann, topping the bottom half of the standings table. After drawing Niemann, the youngster convincingly defeated Van Foreest with the white pieces.

 

Van Foreest had overestimated his chances in the late middlegame, pushing his f-pawn to leave his king lacking defenders. Pragg immediately went for an attack, which culminated with 31.Rxg5+ Kh4 32.Qd4+ Kxg5 33.Ne4+, forking queen and king. Van Foreest resigned.

Going into round 15, Pragg had 21 points, as did his opponent Anton, while Rapport (20 points), Vidit (19) and Navara (18) all had chances to climb to the top half of the table.

In a complicated struggle against Anton, Pragg got what the engines considered to be a clearly superior position in the middlegame.

 

Black has an exchange for a pawn, and he also has the bishop pair, while both players have mobile pawn chains, one in each flank — despite the engines’ evaluation, all three results are possible here, especially given the tournament situation and the fact that this was a 15-minute encounter!

In the ensuing struggle, it was Anton who managed to better handle the tension, getting an 83-move win that catapulted him to fourth place in the final standings table.

Find both Praggnananda’s games in the replayer below.

 

The power of a passed pawn

In the penultimate round, runaway leader Le defeated Navara from a materially balanced rook endgame. As Karsten Müller states in his annotations below, “rook endings have a large drawish tendency, but a powerful passed pawn can change that picture”.

 

50...Kd5, instead of 50...Rc4 (which would fail to 51.g4), was correctly chosen by Le, who went on to score his ninth win of the tournament!

 

Final standings (win = 3pts, draw = 1 pt)

 

All games

 

Links


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.

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