FTX Crypto Cup Finals: Carlsen and So trade blows

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/31/2021 – Wesley So and Magnus Carlsen traded blows in the first set of the FTX Crypto Cup Finals which will be decided in Monday’s second mini-match — and potential blitz tiebreaker. A draw was also seen in the match for third place, except that Teimour Radjabov and Ian Nepomniachtchi decided to give themselves a rest day, as they signed four quick draws on Sunday. | Photo: Nick Barton

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Four quick draws in match for third place

It was a curious day of action, as the finals and match for third place of the FTX Crypto Cup kicked off on Sunday. In the first set of the championship match, a rather symmetrical sequence saw Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So playing the exact same moves to sign draws in games 2 and 4 (when Carlsen was white) and trading blows in games 1 and 3 (when they played the same opening variation up to move 10) to go into day 2 with the score tied.

Meanwhile, besides symmetrical, the match between Teimour Radjabov and Ian Nepomniachtchi was rather disappointing. None of the four games lasted more than 15 moves, with the players also repeating the same sequence of moves in games 1 and 3. Jorden van Foreest tweeted:

Perhaps some extraordinary event — similar to the swarm of mosquitoes that invaded Nepo’s home on Saturday — led to the players agreeing to have a quick day at the office. And, nonetheless, as Peter Leko noted, even if the players repeat the same formula in the second set, “there will be blood” either in blitz or Armageddon. 

So, it is all to be decided on Monday. After losing twice in this stage previously, will Carlsen finally manage to take down So in a final of the Champions Chess Tour? 

FTX Crypto Cup 2021

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Carlsen 2 - 2 So

The world champion inflicted So’s first loss of the event to get ahead on the scoreboard from the get go. The American grandmaster’s 29-game unbeaten streak came to an end after he underestimated Carlsen’s attacking chances on move 27.


27.Qc5 was overly optimistic, as Black quickly created an attack on the kingside. There followed 27...Rbf7 and Carlsen went on to win in style. Karsten Müller analysed the Norwegian’s victory.


In game 3, it was Carlsen who misjudged the evaluation of the position, allowing his opponent to decisively damage his structure on the kingside.


Black cannot avoid getting ‘triplets’ on the g-file after 18...Ng5 19.Bxg6 hxg6 20.Bxg5 fxg5


After 21.Qd3, So began to exploit his rival’s weaknesses and needed only ten moves to level the score.

It was slightly surprising to see Carlsen allowing a quick draw with white in game 4, but he later revealed that he had felt ill all along.


Select an entry from the list to switch between games 


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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