Generation Cup: Carlsen dominates prelims, five juniors make the cut

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/22/2022 – Magnus Carlsen won all three of his games on Wednesday to finish a whole nine points ahead of second-placed Arjun Erigaisi at the preliminary stage of the Generation Cup. Besides Arjun, four other under-20 players made it to the quarterfinals, including the youngest participant in the field, Christopher Yoo (pictured). As for the elite grandmasters, Levon Aronian barely made it through, while Anish Giri fell just short. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Saint Louis Chess Club

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Yoo clinches a spot in the knockout

Magnus Carlsen’s performance in the preliminaries of the Generation Cup was nothing short of astounding. The world champion won 10 games, drew 4 and (quickly) resigned his game against Hans Niemann. With 34 out of 45 points, he scored the best prelims’ performance in this year’s tour. Naturally, his showing was enough to grant him clear first place with a round to spare.

While the favourite won game after game, the fight for qualification was fierce. In the end, the cut was made on 21 points, with Anish Giri the one player who achieved this score but was left out of contention — much like Giri, Levon Aronian and Christopher Yoo won their final-round games to reach the 21-point mark, but they got better tiebreak scores than the Dutchman and thus secured spots in the quarterfinals.

As for the theme of the tournament, the battle of generations was clearly won by the youth. While the two veterans in the field — Vasyl Ivanchuk and Boris Gelfand — were eliminated, all five junior participants made it to the knockout. Arjun Erigaisi (19 years old), Hans Niemann (19), Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (17), Vinceny Keymer (17) and Christopher Yoo (15) all advanced to the quarterfinals.

Remarkably, Yoo is not only the youngest player in the field but also the lowest-rated participant. To finish on the top half of the standings is already a great achievement for the young Californian.

As the day’s action progressed, much attention was given to the potential pairings in the quarterfinals, as the chess world wondered what would happen if Carlsen and Niemann were paired up against each other. Once the single round-robin came to an end, though, the drama was at worst deferred and at best fully avoided — Carlsen and Niemann can only face off in the final match.

Instead, four exciting, drama-free matchups are set to take place on Thursday! 

Generatio Cup 2022

The usual interview with the winner of the prelims followed, which meant Carlsen spoke for the first time since his sudden withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup. When directly asked about his quick resignation against Niemann, the world champion responded:

Unfortunately, I cannot particularly speak on that, but people can draw their own conclusions, and they certainly have. I have to say I’m very impressed by Niemann’s play and I think his mentor Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job.

Carlsen did not confirm nor denied that his decisions were motivated by suspicions of cheating, but he did clarify that he intends to shed more light on the subject later on.

I hope to say a little bit more after the tournament.

Aronian’s comeback

The second best showing in the final three rounds of the prelims was achieved by Levon Aronian. The US grandmaster had been struggling throughout, but two wins and a draw granted him the eighth spot in the final standings, thus barely making it to the knockout. 

In the final round, Aronian had the white pieces against the ever-fighting Vasyl Ivanchuk. The creative fighters reached a position with rook and knight against queen, and a mistake by the Ukrainian on move 51 resulted in his opponent’s all-important win.


Defending this position with black would be difficult even in a classical game. Thus, in a rapid encounter, it is not surprising that Ivanchuk here faltered with 51...Qc7 — curiously, the idea is not entirely wrong, as starting with 51...h4 52.g4 and then going for 52...Qc7 is the correct defensive approach, since the queen will be able to check from f4 in case of 53.Kd4.

The mistake, however, was duly punished by Aronian. The 39-year-old found 53.Kd4 Qa7+ 54.Kd3, and Black has run out of checks.


Of course, 53...Qd7+ fails to the counter-check 54.Nd6+! 


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.