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Carlsen Beats Caruana, Will Play Firouzja In Winners Final

Carlsen Beats Caruana, Will Play Firouzja In Winners Final

AnthonyLevin
| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Magnus Carlsen and Alireza Firouzja will throw down in the Division I Winners Final of the 2023 Julius Baer Generation Cup after defeating, respectively, GMs Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So. Carlsen won the first two games with ease, essaying the Norwegian Rat Opening in the second, but just barely staved off a comeback in the last two games. After three draws, Firouzja took down So with some impressive preparation and a scorching attack. 

In the Losers Bracket, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov eliminated GM Pavel Eljanov convincingly. GM Denis Lazavik, after losing the first game, won twice on demand to eliminate GM Amin Tabatabaei.

In Division II, four players remain in the Winners Semifinals. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi will play GM Bassem Amin and GM Levon Aronian will face GM Vladislav Artemiev. After blundering a piece in game one against GM Alexey Sarana, Aronian scored 2.5 points in the next three games to advance. His first win, a sparkling miniature with the black pieces, is featured below.

Division III is at the Winners Final stage, where GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov will face GM Sam Sevian. Sevian previously won Division III one time, in the Airthings Masters, and will be looking to do it again. Mamedyarov got as far as the ChessKid Cup Grand Final in Division II before, but he lost to GM Vladimir Fedoseev at the last stage. Who will prevail? Tune in to find out!

The knockout tournament continues on Friday, September 1, starting at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 20:30 IST.

See what happened
You can re-watch the Julius Baer Generation Cup on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/Chess. The games can also be followed from our Events Page.
The knockout tournament was hosted by GMs David Howell and Simon Williams as well as IMs Tania Sachdev and Jovanka Houska.

Division I

Day two saw the first pair of players eliminated from Division I, leaving six. Two players will be eliminated each day until Sunday when one winner will be left standing. 

The commentary team broke down the rapid action in yet another day of brilliant moves, blunders, and everything in between.

Day 2 Match Scores | Winners


Carlsen-Caruana 2.5-1.5

From their world championship match in 2018, this heavyweight pairing will attract attention until the end of time. The highest-rated player of all time faced the third highest-rated player of all time. Going into this match, Carlsen led their rapid encounters by nine wins.

Carlsen was simply indomitable in the first two games, which he won. He called the last two "poor," as he nearly allowed back-to-back wins. After losing game three, he survived a losing position in game four.

He won the first game without a hitch. The move that provoked a mistake was 27.Nb7!, and after Caruana captured the knight, missing a narrow path to equality starting with 27...Bd5 instead, he was under serious pressure.

Although the engine will call 28...Bxh3 a blunder, the commentators pointed out that in practical terms the position was already extremely difficult to hold together.

This is our Game of the Day, and GM Rafael Leitao shares his thoughts and analysis below.

Carlsen played a personal specialty in game two, the Norwegian Rat Opening. He was already better by move six—by move 20, just about winning.

Howell called it an "opening disaster" and later a "catastrophe." White developed his first piece on move nine, after losing the right to castle.

Beating the world's best player is tough, and beating him twice is tougher, especially if he wants to draw. But Caruana nearly did.

He won the first game with Black (!) by weaving a mating net around the white king in an endgame. In the last game, he found the following rook sacrifice and was winning.

Alas, it was not meant to be. After one natural move by Caruana, removing his rook from the h6-square, the position was once again equal, and Carlsen didn't make a single mistake for the next 60 moves. The game ended due to the 50-move draw rule.

Caruana will have another shot in the Losers Bracket. Meanwhile, in the interview, a disappointed Carlsen said: "The last two games were pretty dreadful, but I got the win," with no positive emotion in his voice.

His responses to other questions were short and biting. Asked about facing Firouzja on Friday, he responded concisely: "I'll probably have to play better than I did today."

Firouzja-So 2.5-1.5

There's not much to say about the first three games, which ended in draws. It was all decided in game four, where Firouzja prevailed with opening preparation leading to a nice attack. 

In games one and three, Firouzja said he prepared the King's Indian Defense specifically for this match to offset So, a solid player. Although the engine awarded So a typical advantage in both games due to the space, he was unable to earn a full point.

In game two, Firouzja had an edge with White but also couldn't win. However, he got the job done in his second white game, with a brilliant piece of preparation that led to an attack. 

About facing Carlsen tomorrow, Firouzja said, smirking: "Honestly, I'm just happy that I will get more broadcast time because my parents are watching you guys and you guys never show me!" 

Losers Round 1

Unlike the games in the Winners Bracket, these matches were best of two, not four. A match loss at this point meant elimination from the tournament.

Day 2 Match Scores | Losers

Abdusattorov-Eljanov 1.5-0.5

These grandmasters are separated by 22 years, and Eljanov achieved his grandmaster title three years before his opponent was born. They played their first rapid game (a draw) just last week, at the World Rapid Team Championship 2023, where Abdusattorov's team won. After a draw in the first game in this tournament, the Uzbek GM instantly took advantage of a mistake in game two and won the match.

In game one, Eljanov was not able to seize an advantage on the white side of the Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Tarrasch. He ultimately defended a pawn-down endgame where he was never worse.

The key moment of the second game, as Abdusattorov explained in his interview, was 23...f5??, to which the Uzbek youngster replied 24.Bb6!, threatening to win the pawn and also to trap the queen. White gave absolutely no chances from there and won the game.

Abdusattorov lives another day in the Losers Bracket. In his interview, he called his play in the event "so far, not impressive at all," but he later added that his play has been "stable" in the Champions Chess Tour overall. He also shared the importance of staying physically fit for a professional chess player:

Eljanov pockets $7,500 and 20 tour points as he leaves the tournament on day two.

Lazavik-Tabatabaei 2-1

This matchup had even less history as they've never been paired before. The previous day, Lazavik was a draw away from defeating Caruana but lost two consecutive games and the match. This time, Lazavik lost the first game, but karma smiled on the 16-year-old phenom and he won two games on demand to spin this match around.

The first game, Tabatabaei played the white side of the Berlin Defense. The game seemed to be heading to a draw until the Iranian GM applied some serious pressure in the opposite-bishops plus a pair of rooks endgame. The engine claimed equality, but Black did need to find some concrete, unnatural moves.

Appallingly, the innocent move 39...Bb7? lost the game just like that, as Black was pushed back to permanent, decisive passivity.

But Lazavik won on demand in the next game, also in an opposite-color bishop endgame with a pair of rooks on. 

In the armageddon game, Tabatabaei showed his intention to play with the white pieces as he bid 14:50 for the black pieces. Lazavik thus played Black, with nine minutes and 20 seconds and draw odds. The Belarusian teenager struck again, this time finding a knight trap that immediately won the game.

The young grandmaster had quite the display of medals behind him as he joined the interview after the game. He expressed his pleasure in playing with the world's best, saying: "It's amazing." Lazavik will play So in the Losers Quarterfinals on Friday.

Tabatabaei exits the tournament with $7,500 and 20 tour points for reaching this stage.

Division I Standings

Division II

Nepomniachtchi's first game against Fedoseev ended quite fantastically, where having two queens against one did not save him from a miraculous turnaround tactic.

But, as they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. He won the next three consecutive games and won the match without tiebreaks.

Revenge was also served in the match between Aronian and "Piranha Sarana" (Howell's term). The Armenian-American GM hung a full piece in the first game and lost, but then struck back with two wins.

The first one of those victories was a miniature with the black pieces. Brilliancies require mistakes from the losing side, and by taking the rook in the corner with 20.Nxa8? ("dying with a full stomach") Sarana donated another gem to the coffers of history.

Aronian made a draw in game four, in a winning position, to close out the match. 

As a tragic side note for his fans, GM Nihal Sarin was eliminated after hanging his rook with a mouse slip. He also mouse-slipped a rook yesterday to lose another match.

Division II Standings

Division III

Mamedyarov will be looking to win a division for the first time in the Champions Chess Tour. On day two, he reached the Winners Final, where he will play Sevian.

He overcame GM Benjamin Bok in the Winners Semifinals, winning the first game and drawing the second. The Azerbaijani tactician's eye for the attack is ever-sharp, even when material is reduced. Watch how quickly Bok's position deteriorates from an equal position on move 23 as "Shakh" sets up virtually impossible problems for the black side to solve.

Division III Standings


The Champions Chess Tour 2023 (CCT) is the biggest online tournament of the year. It is composed of six events that span the entire year and culminate in live in-person finals. With the best players in the world and a prize fund of $2,000,000, the CCT is Chess.com's most important event yet.


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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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