FTX Crypto Cup: Radjabov holds Carlsen; "Mosquito swarm" plays its part in Nepomniachtchi's loss

Ian Nepomniachtchi was bothered by a swarm of mosquitos in the crucial fourth game that he eventually lost to give Wesley So the lead.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Wesly So came out as the surprise winner against a dominant Ian Nepomniachtchi.   -  REUTERS

Facing a must-win situation to save the first match of their semifinal clash, Teimour Rajdabov surprised Magnus Carlsen with a 'novelty' to level the score at 2-2 in the FTX Crypto Cup on Friday.

In the other semifinal, Ian Nepomniachtchi was bothered by a swarm of mosquitos in the crucial fourth game that he eventually lost to give Wesley So the lead.

Carlsen, after two draws, delivered a crushing blow in the third game to take the lead.

Thereafter, Radjabov came up with a brilliant counter-offensive. He outfoxed Carlsen in the opening with a new continuation by pushing his extreme kingside pawn and took his rival out of prepared lines.

In fact, between the 10th and the 12th moves, Carlsen thought for nearly eight minutes and eventually lost the game.



“I was preparing this for a very long time against someone at the very top level, and I finally got Magnus in this position,” said Radjabov about his victorious game.

“I cannot say I was happy about it, because you never know what the reaction will be, but I was very happy about the time that he spent (after white’s 10th move) so it meant that he didn’t really expect this for sure. So that was really nice, because the position is really tricky and you really have to spend a lot of hours to find out what’s the way for Black, and it’s still quite playable, so I was very happy about it.”

What followed was Carlsen’s shortest ever post-match interview. Carlsen said, “I blundered and he played well. Thank you and see you tomorrow!” and disconnected.

A little later, So came out as the surprise winner against a dominant Nepomniachtchi.

After two draws, Nepomniachtchi could have won had he not overlooked a serious blunder from So. Nepomniachtchi missed the chance to grab So’s knight and let his rival off the hook.

In the fourth game, with a visibly distracted Nepomniachtchi dealing with the mosquito swarm in his house outside Moscow, So managed to win from the black after facing moves of sub optimal strength.

Later Nepomniachtchi remarked, “It was some kind of shamanic ritual, because during the last game, I didn’t care about the game at all, I only wanted not to get eaten down by mosquitoes. This was incredible.
I have never seen such a big amount in one place. It could look very funny but in general it was never funny, so probably I would offer a draw, but it was too late.

“I swear I have never had more annoying playing conditions than this. Some guy snoring in the audience and so on, we are quite used to it while playing in some tournaments like Dortmund or London, but this was an entirely new thing.”

The results:
Semifinals: Match One: Wesley So (USA) bt Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) 2.5-1.5; Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Teimour Radjabov (Aze) 2-2.

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