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Abdusattorov Beats Carlsen To Win Rapid, Plays Ding In Quarterfinals
Carlsen resigns against Abdusattorov, who wins the warm-up Rapid. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Abdusattorov Beats Carlsen To Win Rapid, Plays Ding In Quarterfinals

Colin_McGourty
| 60 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov beat GM Magnus Carlsen in the final round of the 2024 Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge Rapid to top the standings with an unbeaten 5.5/7. That set up a Quarterfinal against World Champion Ding Liren, who made a last-round draw to scrape 0.5/7. The other Quarterfinals, played over two games of classical chess, will be GM Vincent Keymer (2nd) vs. GM Levon Aronian (7th), GM Fabiano Caruana (3rd) vs. GM Gukesh Dommaraju (6th), and GM Alireza Firouzja (4th) vs. Carlsen (5th).  

The first game of the Quarterfinals begins on Sunday, February 11, at 7 a.m. ET / 13:00 CET / 5:30 p.m. IST.  

Rapid Final Standings

The first day of the rapid opener of the G.O.A.T Challenge left the top half of the table occupied by the players aged 20 or younger. The second and final day saw Caruana break into the top half, but it so happens that all the pairings will nevertheless pit youth against experience. Let's take a look at the four upcoming Quarterfinals and how the players have performed.

  1. Abdusattorov vs. Ding
  2. Keymer vs. Aronian
  3. Caruana vs. Gukesh
  4. Firouzja vs. Carlsen

1. Abdusattorov vs. Ding

Abdusattorov said that his preparation sessions with Caruana before rounds gave him a boost. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It's an unusual reward for winning a tournament to be paired against the current world chess champion and just one of 15 players ever to cross a 2800 rating, but on the evidence of current form, the 19-year-old from Uzbekistan should be a heavy favorite. Abdusattorov said of his tournament: "Everything went very smoothly... a dream performance for me!"

Everything went very smoothly... a dream performance for me!

—Nodirbek Abdusattorov

He finished with four wins and as the only unbeaten player.

On the final day he fought hard to survive a dangerous position against Keymer, whipped up a sudden, deadly attack to beat Gukesh, and then came out on top against a player he's made a habit of beating in big games in his young career, Carlsen. Abdusattorov identified his opponent's third move as a mistake, while Carlsen's desire to win saw him make an unnatural pawn capture on move six. The youngster played perfectly to reach a winning endgame...

...but the world number-one almost escaped before making a final mistake in what tablebases tell us is a drawn position. A fittingly tense finish to the rapid tournament!

While Abdusattorov was flying, Ding's tournament went from bad to worse before what felt like a fast, mercy draw from Firouzja in the final round.

Something is up with Ding, as he confessed himself in an interview before Wijk aan Zee, but perhaps he was also suffering from one of the advantages of Chess960—that no one knows how to play for a draw in the unfamiliar openings, so the old wisdom of first stopping the bleeding with a quiet game is hard to implement.

Teresa Sara, currently Miss Angola, meets World Chess Champion Ding Liren. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ding's vulnerability has instead been inspiring his opponents, with Carlsen winning a fine game in round five in their first clash since the world championship title changed hands before Aronian got to play a brilliant miniature which he rounded off with a queen sacrifice. 

That game is our Game of the Day and has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below:

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

Once again, however, if Ding can right the ship before Sunday's Quarterfinal against Abdusattorov, nothing is yet lost. No ratings are at stake in Weissenhaus, and the classical knockout to follow will decide who takes the $60,000 top prize.

2. Keymer vs. Aronian

Keymer did some analysis with Gukesh, Aronian, and Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Local hero Keymer led after day one and was only knocked down into second place because, with 58 seconds against his opponent's seven minutes, he made a weakening move and went on to get put to the sword by Firouzja in the penultimate round. Keymer still hit back to win the final game with a brilliant tactical flurry against Gukesh.

Keymer will now face Aronian who, as we saw from the game against Ding above, can be a very dangerous player. On the final day he also had chances against Firouzja, though he was well-beaten in the final matchup against Caruana.  

3. Caruana vs. Gukesh

Caruana had a great final day, scoring 2.5/3. He managed to build a fortress with Black in what seemed a desperate endgame against Carlsen and won two brilliant attacking games with the white pieces. One was against Aronian, as mentioned above, while the other was a notable achievement: the only game a "veteran" won against one of the kids in the entire rapid tournament.

It was even more notable, since Caruana took Gukesh's spot in the top half of the table, but now they will meet again in the Quarterfinals. The young Indian has been on a rollercoaster, and after his three wins in a row on Friday, he went on to lose all three games on Saturday. It looks bad on paper, but such results happen when you combine an aggressive style with facing top opposition: apart from Caruana he faced the top-two of Abdusattorov and Keymer. The U.S. number-one can take nothing for granted in the coming match.  

4. Firouzja vs. Carlsen

Firouzja was the only player to beat Keymer. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It seems Firouzja and Carlsen simply can't escape each other. On Wednesday they played two mini-matches in the Grand Final of the Chessable Masters, with the 20-year-old winning the first 2.5-1.5 but losing the "reset" 2-0. They were playing from their hotel rooms in Weissenhaus, but now they will play a two-day match face-to-face after both players had mixed final days. Firouzja beat second-placed Keymer and drew his remaining two games; the only rapid game he lost was to the winner Abdusattorov. 

It hasn't all gone to plan for the G.O.A.T. in his G.O.A.T. Challenge. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen also lost to Abdusattorov, in that last round we witnessed above, and was frustrated against Caruana, but he got to beat the player who has taken over as world champion, Ding, and also to play perhaps the most satisfying move of the day: the longest possible "short castles." You can see the move in the viewer below:

All four Quarterfinal matchups have the potential to be epic, and we're also going to see what Chess960 looks like at a classical time control. The players have 90 minutes for 40 moves, but no increment until then. Why?

It should be fun!


The Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge takes place February 9-16, 2024 in the Weissenhaus Private Nature Luxury Resort, Germany. All games are Chess960. It starts with a seven-round rapid tournament to decide pairings before a classical knockout tournament with two-game matches. A tie is decided by two 15+10 rapid games, then, if needed, two 5+2 blitz games, and finally an armageddon game. The prize fund is $200,000 with $60,000 for first place.

How to watch?
You can watch the Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on Twitch and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/Chess24. The games can also be followed from our Events Page.

The live broadcast of the day, hosted by IM Tania Sachdev, GM Peter Leko, GM Niclas Huschenbeth, and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.


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