Unique point system helps Carlsen clinch high-profile tournament

Magnus Carlsen won the online event that had a prize money of $265,000. The final was played over two days and 12 games.

The climax to even the most exciting chess tournaments could sometimes be, well, anti-climatic.

It could all end with a quick, dull draw. For, even a hard-earned victory in the final round – worth a point – may not be enough to stop the overnight leader.

Clutch chess, however, could spice up the finale of a tournament. Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Fabiano Caurana of the United States – the World No. 1 and 2 – showed how this is done over the weekend at the Clutch Chess International, organised by the US-based Saint Louis Chess Club. And they took home considerable money, too.

Carlsen won the online event that had a prize money of $265,000. The final was played over two days and 12 games.

READ: Sharjah chess: Pendyala Harikrishna finishes second

On Sunday, the World champion won the last game and proved that no format could stop him. That win gave him three points, not one, which is usually the case in chess.

Clutch chess, created by US Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, becomes more interesting because the point for a win varies according to the stage of a match, which has 12 games. For a win in the first four games, a win is worth one point while a draw would get you half-a-point.

That point system will apply for Games seven to ten as well. But in games five and six, a win is worth two points and draw one. Then, the last two games will have a win fetching three points and draw 1.5.

READ: Harikrishna placed joint second at Sharjah World Stars online chess

The matches are spread over two days and the last two games of each day are worth more points. It remains to be seen if this system will find favour in other tournaments, but the fact is that the first two events – there was a US tournament before the international one – provided plenty of excitement.

The Carlsen-Caruana final alone produced nine decisive results; there were only three draws. To reach the final, Carlsen had defeated Levon Aronian of Armenia, while Caruana outwitted fellow-American Wesley So.

Those four had knocked out Jeffrey Xiong (US), Leinier Domingeuz (US), Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra).

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