An irresistible Arjun Erigaisi emerged as the Day Two leader and a fearless R. Praggnanandhaa came up with a stunning display against fellow joint-second Magnus Carlsen in their drawn encounter in the $150,000 Julius Baer Generation Cup rapid online chess tournament on Monday.
But all this was pushed into the background in the light of Carlsen’s stunning one-move resignation against USA’s Hans Moke Niemann in Round 6. This has reignited the debate on cheating in chess.
Though Carlsen has never named 19-year-old Niemann of cheating, he dramatically withdrew from the premier Sinquefield Cup after losing to the youngster from San Francisco on September 4. That defeat also ended Carlsen’s 53-game unbeaten streak in classical time format.
On Monday, the unexpected drama came after Neimann played his second move with white pieces. Carlsen resigned and switched off his camera. Within moments, a dazed Neimann also switched off his camera and left millions of those watching it live online in disbelief.
An hour later, Carlsen was back for his game against Levon Aronian and marched to a well-crafted victory. Later, he came up with some brilliant defence to escape against Praggnanandhaa to share the second spot.
Arjun continued his remarkable march. After a hat-trick of victories on Sunday, Arjun stretched his winning streak to five by adding Niemann and Aronian to his list of victims. He then drew with Praggnanandhaa and Ivan Saric to open a two-point lead.
Praggnanandhaa started the day with a draw against Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek, won due to a late error from Vincent Kaymer in their 87-move marathon before allowing Arjun to escape from a mid-game crisis in their 55-move drawn encounter.
It was the game against Carlsen where the feisty Indian’s superior preparation foxed the World champion. Pragnanandhaa twice traded his rooks for minor pieces and was never worse during the 67-move battle. Once some defensive work salvaged a draw, Carlsen immediately clapped in admiration of the young Indian’s gusty display.
Later, Praggnanandhaa referred to his sixth move - a pawn-push on the kingside - as “completely crushing for White, so I am just upset that I couldn’t finish him off there.”
B. Adhiban, the other Indian, continued his search for a win and struggled at the last spot. Between losses to Le Quang Liem and Aronian, Adhiban drew with David Navara and Niemann.
Following the 16-player league, where three points are awarded for a win and one for a draw, only the top-eight will advance to the knockout quarterfinals. Seven rounds remain.