Generation Cup: Carlsen shines, retakes the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/21/2022 – With three rounds to go, a combative final day of preliminaries awaits us in the Generation Cup, as most participants still have chances to reach the knockout stage. Meanwhile, Magnus Carlsen already clinched a spot in the knockout after retaking the lead ahead of Arjun Erigaisi, who nonetheless continues to impress in the online event. | Photo: FIDE / Niki Riga

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A scoring system that invites fighting chess

The football scoring system is in place at the Generation Cup, with three points for a win and one point for a draw. Add to this the fact that a rapid time control (15 minutes plus 10-second increments) is being used, and it is clear why fighting chess has been the norm in the first twelve rounds of the preliminaries. On Tuesday, 21 out of 32 games ended decisively.

For all involved, the main goal is to reach the knockout stage, with half the players set to remain in contention after Wednesday’s final three rounds. Going into the last day of the single round-robin, only Magnus Carlsen and Arjun Erigaisi have no worries regarding a potential disqualification, while no fewer than eleven contenders have real chances of making it to the knockout.

After controversy took over the chess world following Carlsen’s quick resignation against Hans Niemann, the world champion had an excellent run in rounds 9-12, grabbing three wins and a draw to retake the lead ahead of Arjun. Barring the ‘thrown’ game, Carlsen has remained undefeated in the event.

In the knockout, the players will be paired according to their placings in the preliminaries. following the format 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5. A statistical analysis shared by Chess by the Numbers shows that Niemann is Carlsen’s most likely opponent in the quarterfinals — not by a wide margin, though.

Julius Baer Generation Cup 2022

Source: Chess by the Numbers

Julius Baer Generation Cup 2022

Ivanchuk draws Carlsen in 122 moves

Vasyl Ivanchuk is one of only four players who have drawn Carlsen in the tournament. And, not surprisingly, the legendary Ukrainian and the current world champion played a thrilling, hard-fought game in round 10. 

 

White is two pawns up and could potentially queen one of his pawns on the d-file. On the other hand, Black has a much safer king and is about to grab the h2-pawn, getting a far-advanced passer on the kingside. In this complex position, Ivanchuk faltered with the natural-looking 47.Rc1, when Black can ignore the attack against his knight and go for an immediate 47...Bxh2 — which Carlsen found after thinking for 20 seconds.

(In the diagrammed position, White had 47.Nb4. If White continues with 47...Rb2, keeping the rook on the second rank, Black has 48.Nd3, forcefully exchanging the black knight, a key defender for Black).

In the game, Carlsen soon got a new queen and entered a winning position with queen against rook and knight. However, the Norwegian missed a simple tactical trick on move 55.

 

Carlsen quickly grabbed White’s passer with 55...Qxd6, when 55...Qb3+ would have won him  the rook at once — and he quickly noticed the mistake!

As it turns out, the text move gave Ivanchuk good drawing chances. The 53-year-old showed excellent technique until eventually getting the draw in a game that lasted no fewer than 122 moves. At the end of the day, the Ukrainian genius was the one player that prevented Carlsen from getting a perfect 4/4 on Tuesday (or 12/12 with this scoring system)!

 

Niemann beats Aronian in 21 moves

Following a draw with David Navara and a loss against Anish Giri, Hans Niemann rejoined the qualification zone (top 8 in the standings) by scoring a quick victory over Levon Aronian. Aronian has been struggling in the event, as he lost three games in a row for a second consecutive day — he did finish both days with wins, though, which means he still has chances to reach the knockout.

 

Clearly a Najdorf gone wrong for Black, and Niemann found the most precise way to break through — 16.Ndb5 axb5 17.Nxb5 Qxc2 (Black is already lost) 18.Nxd6+ Ke7 19.fxe5

 

19...Nxe5 20.Qb4 followed, and the end is near. With 20...Qxe2, Aronian allowed his young opponent to play a spectacular final move — 21.Nf5+ is a double check!

 

Aronian resigned before allowing 21...Kd7 22.Qe7+ Kc6 23.Nd4#

 

Crosstable - Preliminaries (win = 3 pts; draw = 1 pt)

 

All games

 

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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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