FTX Crypto Cup: Carlsen, Caruana hit back; So, Radjabov take lead

World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen hit back to draw level at 2-2 with Hikaru Nakamura in the first match of their quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Magnus Carlsen

World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen hit back to draw level at 2-2 with Hikaru Nakamura in the first match of their quarterfinal on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

Twice trailing by a point, World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen hit back to draw level at 2-2 with Hikaru Nakamura in the first match of their quarterfinal in the FTX Crypto Cup online rapid chess tournament on Wednesday.

The players won with white pieces as all four games proved decisive. The second match will be played on Thursday.

Looking back, Carlsen said, “In the first game, I mixed up something in the opening and he just crushed me, to be fair”.

Though the World champion did survive the first match, he made no secret of how he felt. “I’m not enjoying it at all, because I constantly have to win on demand!”

READ| FTX Crypto Cup: Caruana tops; Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi survive

Much like Carlsen, World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana also came out stronger in the must-win fourth game to hold Ian Nepomniachtchi 2-2 after the Russian took the lead in the opening game. In fact, Caruana appeared totally lost in the fourth game before miraculously escaping to victory.

READ| FTX Crypto Cup Chess, Day 3: Carlsen plays out draws with Nakamura, Firouzja

Talking about the fourth game, Caruana said, “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that! I was basically ready to resign after 20 moves, or whatever it was. My position was beyond hopeless - it wasn’t just bad. If it wasn’t a must-win, I would have considered resigning at some point, but somehow I kept finding moves to avoid losing immediately.”

“I guess in the end from both sides' play was… awful is probably too mild a word, so probably even worse than awful!”

Asked how he looked ahead to the second match on Thursday, Caruana said, "I hope not more of the same! I don’t think I’ll get this lucky again, so I should probably play better and not leave my fate entirely in my opponent’s hands"

Wesley So and Teimour Radjbov inched closer to a semifinal spot by winning their first matches. So beat Frenchman Maxime Vachier Lagrave twice in succession after two draws for a comprehensive 3-1 verdict.

Radjabov, who missed a kind of “open goal” in the second game against Giri, finally got it right in the fourth game for a 2.5-1.5 win.

The knockout phase involves two matches of four 15-minute rapid games, with a 10-second increment for each move made. If the score stays tied at 1-1, the match goes into two blitz games of five minutes each, with three-second increment per move.

If still equal, an Armageddon game decides the match. Here, the player with white pieces gets five minutes, to four minutes for black, with no increment time. In case of a draw, the tie goes in favour of the player with black pieces.

The results:

Quarterfinals (Match One): Fabiano Caruana (USA) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) 2-2; Wesley So (USA) bt Maxime-Vachier Lagrave (Fra) 3-1; Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2-2; Teimour Radjabov (Aze) bt Anish Giri (Ned) 2.5-1.5.

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