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FTX Crypto Cup: Giri Leads, 'Awful' Start For Carlsen
Anish Giri. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

FTX Crypto Cup: Giri Leads, 'Awful' Start For Carlsen

PeterDoggers
| 46 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Anish Giri had the best first day at the FTX Crypto Cup, the sixth leg of the Champions Chess Tour. The Dutch GM scored 4/5 on Sunday. World Champion Magnus Carlsen scored just 50 percent and said he had played "awful" chess.

How to watch?
The games of the FTX Crypto Cup preliminaries can be found here as part of our live events platform. IM Levy Rozman and IM Anna Rudolf are providing daily commentary on GM Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch channel starting at 8:00 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.


The Champions Chess Tour continues with yet another new title sponsor. This time it's FTX, a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The total prize fund is $320,000, and the original press release spoke of "a cool $100,000 paid in crypto," a novelty in the chess world.

However, this part of the prize fund was mocked on social media when the crypto markets suffered a significant drop in the past few weeks. Now, the organizers decided to turn that $100K Bitcoin bonus into 2.1825 Bitcoin instead. At the time of writing, the value is slightly below $80,000.

FTX Crypto Cup | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 Giri 2780 2980 1 ½ ½ 1 1 4.0/5
2 Nakamura 2736 2918 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 3.5/5
3 Vachier-Lagrave 2760 2920 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 3.5/5
4 So 2770 2912 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 3.5/5
5 Ding 2799 2815 0 ½ ½ 1 1 3.0/5
6 Radjabov 2765 2832 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/5
7 Firouzja 2759 2853 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5
8 Caruana 2820 2758 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 2.5/5
9 Nepomniachtchi 2792 2754 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/5
10 Carlsen 2847 2745 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 2.5/5
11 Svidler 2714 2715 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/5
12 Dubov 2710 2676 ½ ½ 0 0 1 2.0/5
13 Aronian 2781 2706 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 2.0/5
14 Mamedyarov 2770 2629 0 0 1 0 ½ 1.5/5
15 Grischuk 2776 2507 0 0 0 0 1 1.0/5
16 Pichot 2630 2401 0 0 ½ 0 0 0.5/5

Tour leader Carlsen, who took over the overall Tour standings from GM Wesley So by winning the fifth leg, had a bumpy start. Already in his first game, in which he beat GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, analysis shows that the Norwegian GM wasn't in full control in the final phase:

Carlsen's round-two game was much anticipated as he faced GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, his opponent in the upcoming world championship match. The Russian GM also needs some warming up (scoring 2.5/5, like Carlsen) and blundered an exchange in this game but somehow managed to scrape out the draw:

Nepomniachtchi Carlsen 2017 London Chess Classic
Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi at the 2017 London Chess Classic. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After a quick draw with So (these online top tournaments continue to be marred with an enormous amount of identical draws following the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 d5 9. exd6 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd6 11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qd6 13. Qe4+ Qe6 14. Qd4 Qd6—it would be nice if this specific line could be forbidden in the regulations), Carlsen then lost to GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The Frenchman was "move-ordered" into a Sicilian Dragon but handled it well: 

Carlsen ended his day with a draw against GM Alan Pichot, the lowest-rated player in the field who had lost his other four games. "To look on the bright side, I am a little bit on the fortunate side to have the score that I have," said Carlsen. "But in terms of quality of play, it obviously has to improve."

Giri, on the other hand, continues to show his great form that he had at the Magnus Carlsen Invitational and during most games at last month's Candidates. The Dutchman won three games and drew two. In the first round, he outplayed Pichot in great style:

Another tactical moment that caught this author's eye happened in the game with GM Alexander Grischuk. Calculation-wise, Giri is doing excellent at the moment:

Two of the three American players, GM Hikaru Nakamura and So, started with a solid plus-two score. Note that once again, it's all about finishing among the top eight after 15 rounds.

The third American, GM Fabiano Caruana, was struggling a bit. The world number-two is making his debut in the Champions Chess Tour and hadn't played a game online in six months. The last time was in the 2020 Chess.com Speed Chess Championship on November 15, 2020.

Fabiano Caruana
Fabiano Caruana, back in action online. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

All Games Day 1

The FTX Crypto Cup runs May 23-31 on chess24. The preliminary phase is a 16-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players advance to a six-day knockout that consists of two days of four-game rapid matches, which advance to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $220,000 with a bonus of 2.18 Bitcoin.

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