FTX Crypto Cup: So Leads As Nepomniachtchi Fights Mosquitoes
Ian Nepomniachtchi fighting mosquitos during play. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

FTX Crypto Cup: So Leads As Nepomniachtchi Fights Mosquitoes

| 42 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Wesley So took the lead in his FTX Crypto Cup semifinal against a mosquitos-battling GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. The American grandmaster needs two game points on Saturday to reach the final against either GM Magnus Carlsen or GM Teimour Radjabov, who tied their first match. 

How to watch?
The games of the FTX Crypto Cup 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.

FXT Crypto Cup semifinals results

So-Nepomniachtchi 2.5-1.5

Top chess players don't have the habit of blaming external factors for their losses. Headaches, fevers, and even hangovers tend to go unmentioned as the suffering combatants know that an excuse is meaningless if the opponent is suffering the same.

On Friday, however, Nepomniachtchi had no choice but to blame his loss in the fourth game (after three draws) for the plague of mosquitos that had invaded his room.

Playing from somewhere in the countryside in Russia, the world championship contender was seen on camera visibly distracted by the insects as he tried to catch them. "High-pitched buzzing was also picked up by his microphone," adds the press release of the tournament.

Ian Nepomniachtchi mosquitos FTX Crypto
Nepomniachtchi had to fight mosquitos and find good moves simultaneously. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nepomniachtchi: "In the last game didn't care about winning the game at all. I just didn't want to get eaten by mosquitoes! This was incredible. I have never seen such a big amount in one place. I swear I have never had more annoying playing conditions than this."

The Russian player joked that he may have to wear a uniform and a mask when the match resumes tomorrow. Asked what his strategy for the second match will be, So joked: "Hopefully the mosquitoes will help me again."

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Carlsen-Radjabov 2-2

This result means the chances for a Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi prelude have diminished, even more so with Carlsen failing to take the lead on day one of the semis. The world champion won a good game three (after two draws) but then lost the fourth to Radjabov.

After Radjabov had proved himself too solid in the Italian, Carlsen successfully switched to 1.d4 and left his opponent no chance:

"I'm super happy about beating Magnus. It's really nice," said Radjabov after winning that fourth game. He revealed that he had been waiting to play the line with 10.h4 for a long time. "The position is really tricky; you really have to spend a lot of hours to find out what's the way for Black."

Teimour Radjabov FTX Crypto Cup
Teimour Radjabov. Image: Champions Chess Tour.

A frustrated Carlsen's only comment was: "I blundered and he played well. Thank you and see you tomorrow." Then he closed his Skype call with the studio in Oslo to the astonished and amused commentators.

All Games Day 6

The FTX Crypto Cup runs May 23-31 on chess24. The preliminary phase was a 16-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players have advanced 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 2.1825 Bitcoin.

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