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Fabulous Caruana Wins 2 Armageddons, Will Play Abdusattorov In Grand Final

Fabulous Caruana Wins 2 Armageddons, Will Play Abdusattorov In Grand Final

AnthonyLevin
| 6 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Fabiano Caruana eliminated GMs Jules Moussard and Jorden van Foreest on his way to the Champions Chess Tour ChessKid Cup 2023 Grand Final in Division I.

Both of his matches made it to armageddon tiebreaks; Caruana first drew with the black pieces and then won the second with white. He earns a rematch vs. GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who defeated him in the Winners Semifinals earlier.

The Grand Final in Division II is also set. After defeating GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, GM Vladimir Fedoseev sits at the top of the Winners Bracket. He will have two lives against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, whom he beat way back in the first round of the event. The Azerbaijani tactician fought his way through the whole Losers Bracket, finally beating GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son in the Losers Final, for a chance at redemption.

On the previous day, GM Pentala Harikrishna suffered a loss to GM Alan Pichot in the Winners Final after falling into an unfortunate opening trap. But by defeating the young and dangerous GM Denis Lazavik in the Losers Final on Friday, he earned another chance at the Division III title.

The ChessKid Cup concludes with the Grand Final on Friday, May 26, starting at 8 a.m. PT/17:00 CEST

How to watch?
You can watch the Champions Chess Tour ChessKid Cup 023 on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky, David Howell, IMs Tania Sachdev, and FM James Canty III.


Division I

Check out the highlights video below:

Losers Bracket

There were no matches in the Winners Bracket today, and Abdusattorov enjoyed a free day in Stavanger, Norway as he prepared for the final day of the ChessKid Cup.

Losers Semifinals: Caruana-Moussard 1.5-1.5

Two decisive regular games left it all to be decided in armageddon. After winning an exceptional first game, Caruana lost control in the second. He was able to draw in the tiebreak (with time odds) to win the match.

Always a dangerous opening theoretician, Caruana came prepared with White in game one and played the offbeat 11.Be3 against the Petroff Defense, a move first played by GM Viswanathan Anand in 2001 and not repeated until 20 years later, by GMs Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The U.S. champion won what the commentators praised as a positional masterpiece.

Without question, this is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

Caruana, the recent Superbet Chess Classic Romania champion, continued to show great form in game two with the black pieces in the Ruy Lopez. In what looked like it was going to be another clinical wrapup, where he was either equal or better for most of it, he lost control in the time scramble.

The world number-six won the bid for the black pieces in armageddon with 9 minutes and 58 seconds. Moussard would have time odds, with 15 minutes, but he would also need to win. 

With a convincing draw in the tiebreak, Caruana made it to the Losers Final and also secured, with a minimum third-place finish, a ticket to Division I of the next CCT event.

Moussard earns $12,500 and 50 tour points for his fourth-place finish.

Losers Final: Van Foreest-Caruana 1-2

The shadow of pandemonium descended on this Losers Final match in the very first game. Although the first two games were drawn, they were anything but peaceful. The match was only decided in yet another armageddon game.

Van Foreest was the first to cast a surprise with 10.a4, declining the Marshall Gambit, in game one. It was unclear how deep his preparation went as the players followed trodden paths in correspondence chess all the way to 14.Qd3. The game exploded, but the mental boxing match ended with the proverbial shake of hands. Draw.

After another (fighting!) draw in game two, where Caruana gave the (delayed) Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation a spin, we had another armageddon game on our hands.

Van Foreest won the bid for Black in armageddon by three seconds, with 9:53 vs. Caruana's 9:56. There was a brief curfuffle in the commentary as Van Foreest chose to play with the white pieces, which would be a first in the Champions Chess Tour ever. But it transpired that he misunderstood the rules (he would play with his bid of 9:53 with White) and took his decision back, ultimately settling on the black pieces.

The critical moment came on move 26, where Caruana decided to trade queens and plant an absolute ghoul of a knight on c4. While the engine recommends Black to defend passively and simply wait, Van Foreest lashed out with 29...d5?. But this "liberating" pawn break only liberated the e-file for the white rook.

Van Foreest finishes the ChessKid Cup in third winning a nice sum of $15,000, 75 tour points, and most importantly, a seat in Division I of the next event (which comes with at least $7,500 even if he loses his first match there). 

After the game, Caruana commented on how unnecessary the armageddon game was in the first match. He also considered himself an underdog in a match vs. Abdusattorov where he has to win twice.

As Nakamura showed in the Chessable Masters, against Caruana in fact, it is possible to win twice in the Grand Final. Only time will tell. 

Division I Standings

Division II

Mamedyarov was simply not to be trifled with on Thursday. He won all of his matches—against GMs Raunak Sadhwani, Dmitry Andreikin, and Nguyen—with his usual tactical flare. GM Mikhail Tal once compared chess to a deep, dark forest, and on Thursday the Azerbaijani grandmaster brought his machete.

After two draws against Raunak, he won the armageddon game with White in 22 moves. Can you find the finishing touch?

White to move and win. (There is an alternative, but find the most forcing move.)

He then sent Andreikin home (metaphorically, of course, since they're all already home) with two wins in two games.

The final match against Nguyen went to armageddon after two decisive games. He won the tiebreak in 27 moves in a game where his attacks sprouted on both sides of the board simultaneously. 

Will Mamedyarov complete the circle of redemption by defeating Fedoseev in the Grand Final? Or will the "Bigfish" have the last laugh? Remember, the winner of Division II also earns automatic entry to Division I of the next event (and a tiny $10,000 prize).

Division II Standings

Division III

Lazavik has proven himself time and again as a powerful force in the online chess scene. Yet, on Thursday, Harikrishna ousted this fearsome young talent by winning the first game and comfortably drawing the second.

By move 50, the evaluation bar may lull you into believing that this game is an "EZ draw." But that's the cruelty of chess—Black made one wrong move, allowing the white king to activate after two checks, and the game was over in the blink of an eye.

After providing this instructive endgame lesson to spectators, Harikrishna will need to defeat Pichot twice in the Grand Final to win Division III. 

Division III Standings


The Champions Chess Tour 2023 (CCT) is a massive chess circuit combining the best features of previous Champions Chess Tour editions with the Chess.com Global Championship. The tour comprises six events spanning the entire year and culminating in live in-person Finals. With the very best players in the world and a $2,000,000 prize fund, the CCT is Chess.com's most important event to date.

Only grandmasters are eligible for automatic entry into the Play-In Phase. Other titled players (IM and below) can play in the Qualifiers that take place every Monday starting February 13, except on weeks with a Play-In or Knockout (21 in total). The top three players from each Qualifier will be eligible to participate in the upcoming Play-In. 


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AnthonyLevin
NM Anthony Levin

NM Anthony Levin caught the chess bug at the "late" age of 18 and never turned back. He earned his national master title in 2021, actually the night before his first day of work at Chess.com.

Anthony, who also earned his Master's in teaching English in 2018, taught English and chess in New York schools for five years and strives to make chess content accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages. At Chess.com, he writes news articles and manages social media for chess24.

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