Charity Cup: Carlsen and Duda reach the final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/25/2022 – Magnus Carlsen and Jan-Krzysztof Duda defeated Ding Liren and Le Quang Liem respectively to reach the final of the Charity Cup. Much like in the quarterfinals, no tiebreaks were seen in the semifinals. Carlsen and Duda will face off in a 2-set match starting Friday, with each set a 4-game rapid confrontation. | Photo: Lennart Ootes (Archive)

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A rematch

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2022Twice in the last two years Jan-Krzysztof Duda obtained surprising, significant victories over world champion Magnus Carlsen. In October 2020, the Polish grandmaster ended Carlsen’s 125-game undefeated streak in classical chess by beating the man from Tønsberg at the Norway Chess super-tournament. Then, in August 2021, Duda knocked out Carlsen from the World Cup by scoring a 1½-½ victory over the Norwegian in their semifinal rapid-chess playoff.

A bit over six months after their confrontation in Khanty-Mansiysk, Duda and Carlsen are set to face off again, in the final of the Charity Cup. Two 4-game matches will decide who gets to claim overall victory at the second event of this year’s Champions Chess Tour. The first event of the online series, the Airthings Masters, was won by Carlsen, while Duda failed to make it past the preliminary stage.

In the semifinals, Carlsen knocked out Ding Liren with wins in games 3 and 4. Duda, meanwhile, got the better of prelims winner Le Quang Liem by the smallest of margins.

Charity Cup Chess 2022

Carlsen 3 - 1 Ding

The world champion kicked off the match with the white pieces, and induced a smile on his opponent’s face when he opened the game with 1.e3. The world champion would go on to miss a few chances in the middlegame, albeit it was he who would later have to defend a rook and knight versus rook endgame which was only agreed drawn after 110 moves.

Another draw followed, this one lasting 56 moves, before Ding faltered in a queen endgame in game 3.


With the c-pawn one step away from becoming a queen, Ding needed to acquiesce to a draw here despite being two pawns up — 46...Qf3+ leads to perpetual checks both after 47.Kg1 and 47.Kh3. Instead, his 46...Kg6 loses to 47.Qe3.


White will grab the g3-pawn, and the problem for Black is that he can never allow a queen swap with the c-pawn so far advanced. After 47...Kf7 48.Qxg3 Qe6, White got to play 49.Qh3, showing the winning idea. Ding resigned after 49...Qg6+ 50.Kh1

In a must-win situation, Ding blundered again in the endgame, granting Carlsen a 3-1 victory in the match. The world number 3 agreed to play in the online series despite the daily action starting at 1 AM for him and his Chinese colleagues — Ju Wenjun and Lei Tingjie were also invited to play in the Charity Cup.


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Duda 2½ - 1½ Le

By the time Carlsen and Ding agreed to draw their lengthy first encounter, Le was already trying to bounce back after an initial loss with the white pieces — in a sharp struggle, the Vietnamese star had been outplayed by Duda. Two draws followed, and much like Ding, Le needed a win in game 4 to take the match to blitz tiebreakers.

A misstep on move 19 left the winner of the preliminaries almost entirely without chances of mounting a comeback.


19...Qd7 fails tactically to 20.f6. Grabbing the pawn with 20...gxf6 loses to 21.Ne4, while 20...Bxf6+ is met by 21.Nxf6 gxf6 and again 21.Ne4 — the queen is misplaced on e7, given the potential forks on f6. 

Apparently, Le was not surprised by the pawn push, as he quickly replied with 20...h5. In this line, however, White also has as strong response in 21.Nh6+ gxh6 22.fxe7, and Black’s kingside pawn structure had been permanently damaged.


Duda was clearly in the driver’s seat, but given the match situation he played as cautiously as his opponent allowed from this point on. The Polish grandmaster eventually forced a draw by perpetual check to get the ticket to the final.



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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