Charity Cup: Favourites prevail

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/24/2022 – Rating favourites Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Le Quang Liem all won their quarterfinal matches at the Charity Cup. Out of the four, only Le needed four games to defeat David Navara, as the remaining three winners of the day managed to knock out their opponents after only three encounters. | Photo: Alina l’Ami

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Carlsen, Ding, Duda and Le in semis

Rating favourites had little trouble dispatching their lower-rated colleagues in the quarterfinal matches of the Charity Cup. Three out of the four matches finished after three games, as the winners had already obtained an insurmountable advantage in the 4-game confrontations. For the semifinals, Magnus Carlsen is set to face Ding Liren while Jan-Krzysztof Duda is paired up against prelims winner Le Quang Liem.

Carlsen’s rival was 18-year-old US grandmaster Hans Niemann. After finishing 15th (out of 16) in the preliminary stage of the Airthings Masters, the Californian reached the knockout in the second tournament of the online series by collecting 22/45 points in the prelims. The youngster had the odds stacked up against him, and he did not manage to stage a major upset in his match against the world champion. He would later share on Twitter:

As per Carlsen’s own admission, the first two games were tense and difficult. The strong results shown by the 2021 US Junior champion are likely to gain him more invitations to top events, where he will need to prove his mettle against the world circuit’s elite.

Charity Cup Chess 2022

Carlsen 2½ - ½ Niemann

After drawing the first game with the black pieces, Niemann found himself needing to decide whether it was worth it to test his opponent’s ability to give a mate with bishop and knight against a lone king.

 

Even strong players have failed to show the proper technique to checkmate a lone king with bishop and knight, but after 92...b1Q 93.Rxb1 Kxb1 94.Kb4 Bf7 95.Kc5 Nd5, the 18-year-old decided to throw in the towel, trusting that his famed opponent knew how to do it.

At that point, the youngster’s reasoning probably also factored in exhaustion, as he prioritized his chances to bounce back in the following game.

Carlsen would also win the third encounter to set up a semifinal against Ding Liren.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Ding 2½ - ½ Van Foreest

Surprisingly, this match was clearly lopsided in Ding’s favour. The Chinese star won both his games with white and even missed some chances to also win game 2, when he had the black pieces. In the first encounter, Ding found a strong tactical resource in the middlegame.

 

21.d5 is a strong pawn break, as after 21...exd5 White has 22.Rxe7 Qxe7 23.Nxd5, making use of the newly created pin.

 

Van Foreest gave up his queen by playing 23...Nxd5 and was duly outplayed by his opponent in the ensuing imbalanced struggle. In the first diagrammed position, the Dutchman could have put up more resistance by going for 21...Nh5, although White is also clearly better in the potential resulting positions.

 

Duda 2½ - ½ Anton

David Anton had a great 3-game winning streak on Tuesday to reach the knockout, but went on to lose his first two encounters in the quarterfinals against Duda. The Spaniard had a better position in the second game of the match, but a mistaken queen manoeuvre turned the tables in favour of the Polish star.

 

21...Qb4 was a blunder by ‘el niño’, as White had the strong reply 22.Nxa5+, when 22...Qxa5 fails to 23.b4, while 22...bxa5, as seen in the game, allows 23.Rb3, grabbing the queen. Resignation came four moves later.

 

Le 2½ - 1½ Navara

In the longest match of the day, the first three games favoured the player who had the white pieces. Le’s victory in game 3 featured a few tactical tricks.

 

White’s threats along the h-file with the help of the strong knight on g5 are all but impossible to stop for Black. However, Navara had his hopes set on his central passed pawn — thus 24...Rxe3. The problem for the Czech grandmaster was that after 25.fxe3 Qd2 White can simply play 26.Kf2

 

Now Le has ‘the material and the compensation’. After 26...f6, the in-form Vietnamese grandmaster found 27.Qe4, prompting his opponent’s resignation.

 

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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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