Giri, Duda Shut Down Dark Horses, Earn Seats In Toronto Finals

Giri, Duda Shut Down Dark Horses, Earn Seats In Toronto Finals

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Anish Giri and Jan-Krzysztof Duda overcame Pavel Ponkratov and Alexey Sarana, respectively, in the 2022 Global Championship round of 16 on Wednesday, presented by Brave. The two matches featured pairings between players who, although all being strong grandmasters, have almost never faced each other before. 

The round of 16 concludes on Wednesday, October 12, starting at 6 a.m. PT / 15:00 CET, with GMs Ding Liren vs. Nihal Sarin and Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Teimour Radjabov. With Ding and Nepomniachtchi playing a match for the world title next year, these will be matches you won't want to miss.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Global Championship on You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

Live broadcast of Wednesday's matches, hosted by GMs Robert Hess and Aman Hambleton.

One advantage of this unprecedented tournament has been fresh pairings. While classical, over-the-board chess has seen dozens of games between a handful of elite players, the CGC has showcased previously unthinkable matchups between generations, former world champions and rising stars, established leaders and promising qualifiers.  

The players in both matches had never played each other in classical chess. In rapid, each of the pairs had met only once. Giri and Duda were certainly the favorites, having played at the highest echelons of chess sans the world championship. However, Ponkratov and Sarana have certainly made their names known in the online chess scene. The stage was set for potential upsets, but the favorites convincingly put those hopes to rest.

Sarana and Duda battled previously in a single rapid game, at the 2020 World Rapid Chess Championship, where the Polish grandmaster won. While Duda, who participated in the 2022 Candidates Tournament in Madrid, entered the tournament by invitation, Sarana nevertheless defeated heavyweight GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (world number-13) and Vidit Gujrathi (world number-32) after qualifying in the Play-in phase. No one reaches the round of 16 by accident, and if he could defeat those two, he is capable of beating anyone.

Duda exhibited incredible preparation in his first game as he improvised on a creative concept played earlier by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, one of the leading world experts in the Sicilian Najdorf, played in 2019. 

The second game of the match was the wildest game of the day, even though it was the only draw between the two fighters. It's not often we select a draw as our Game of the Day over four decisive games, but the peaceful result is deceptive in this case.

Readers will surely understand why the GOTD is a draw. This was a dramatic battle, with interesting moments right from the opening and a huge missed opportunity for Sarana.

After brilliantly outplaying Duda in game two, yet failing to put the game away, Sarana again went down in the same Sicilian Najdorf line as game one. Had the Russian grandmaster won the previous game, one must wonder how differently this match could have gone.

Sarana attempted to improve on the first game with 10...Qc7, but did not solve his opening issues. Duda went on to trap a bishop on e6 and convert the full-piece advantage in "the most lethal way to convert this," according to Hambleton.

Giri and Ponkratov played once before, making a draw in their only rapid game, played online in the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship. Giri, the world number-seven and Dutch number-one, would be the favorite in most matchups, regardless of the opponent. But Ponkratov had quite a Cinderella story in this tournament after defeating former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in the round of 64, defying hundreds of fantasy bracket predictions (including this author's), and the reigning 18-year-old World Rapid Chess Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the round of 32. To call these upsets "impressive" would be an understatement.

This second match had a slower start than the first, with the first two games ending in draws. In the first game, Giri was much better out of the opening in a French Defense Steinitz Variation, but Ponkratov neutralized the attack and the game ultimately ended in a draw. In the second game, the Russian grandmaster played the anti-Grunfeld 3.f3 and the players transposed to a Benoni-like structure. Black never seemed to be in real trouble and the game ended in acceptable peace.

In game three, however, Giri won in 27 moves, with a unique checkmate on the board even after trading queens. 

The dark horse who had defeated two world champions to reach the round of 16 was in a must-win situation in game four. Unfortunately, in a position where he had an advantage—you can only imagine the nerves—he blundered a tactic that lost the game on the spot. 

Can you find the winning move for Black?

Almost immediately after winning his match, Giri tweeted the following. 

Giri and Duda each earned $25,000 for winning this stage, with the chance to win more in Toronto. Sarana and Ponkratov received $15,000 each. 

Round of 16 Scoreboard

Round of 16 Bracket

The 2022 Global Championship (CGC) is the first global championship cycle open to all verified players. Players compete in official verified events for their share of the $1,100,000 prize fund and the Global Champion title.

Chess legends, such as GMs Viswanathan Anand, Vasyl Ivanchuk, Vladimir Kramnik, and Veselin Topalov, compete against today's best (online) players, including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, Levon Aronian, and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and more. 

Previous Coverage

More from NM AnthonyLevin
Carlsen Claims 2023 Speed Chess Title With Double Rook Sacrifice

Carlsen Claims 2023 Speed Chess Title With Double Rook Sacrifice

Nakamura Enters Beast Mode In Bullet Chess, Will Face Carlsen In Final

Nakamura Enters Beast Mode In Bullet Chess, Will Face Carlsen In Final