FTX Crypto Cup QF: Radjabov, So Lead As Carlsen, Nakamura Trade Blows
Nakamura vs. Carlsen in their 2018 Fischer Random match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FTX Crypto Cup QF: Radjabov, So Lead As Carlsen, Nakamura Trade Blows

| 31 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Teimour Radjabov and GM Wesley So are leading their two-day matches in the quarterfinals of the FTX Crypto Cup. Radjabov defeated GM Anish Giri in the fourth game, while So beat GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave twice.

In a remarkable first match between GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Hikaru Nakamura, both players won their two white games. GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Ian Nepomniachtchi drew twice and both won one game.

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.

FTX Crypto Cup results

Carlsen-Nakamura 2-2

This was arguably the "match of the day" in terms of players but also because of what happened on the board. Despite so many earlier clashes between these two gladiators, their battles never bore!

The regulations ended this first match after four games and only on Thursday, there's a potential playoff with, ultimately, armageddon. It would have been interesting to see how long the players would have continued scoring, although it's unlikely that we would have seen a series of 21 in a row.

Magnus Carlsen FTX Crypto Cup
Carlsen came back twice from a deficit. Image: FTX Crypto Cup.

It was Nakamura who took the lead twice and Carlsen who countered twice. After losing with a slightly experimental line in the Open Ruy Lopez (which he didn't repeat in game three), Carlsen came back with a thematic bishop sacrifice on h6 that might have been all preparation:

Any day when you beat Carlsen is a good day, and Nakamura even managed to do so twice. In game three, he slowly but surely outplayed the world champion from a slightly better endgame. Fantastic technique by the American GM:

Hikaru Nakamura
Carlsen himself couldn't have played that endgame better than Nakamura did. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

So-MVL 3-1

It was early aggression followed by a long hibernation for So in the preliminaries, but the fighter in him woke up again on the first day of the quarterfinals. The first two games were still fairly quiet, but inaccurate play from Vachier-Lagrave in a Berlin Endgame unleashed the beast in So:

In a must-win situation, MVL had to take risks. He tried the Benoni (there are just too many ways for White to shut off all dynamics in the Grunfeld), but that went wrong early as well:

Wesley So Smiling
Wesley So. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Radjabov-Giri 2.5-1.5

Like So, Radjabov chose the Berlin as his black repertoire, and Giri had to be satisfied with a draw twice, in the endgame (game one) and in the 5.Re1 line (game three). As White, Radjabov came close to a win in game two and then scored in game four:

Teimour Radjabov
Teimour Radjabov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Caruana-Nepomniachtchi 2-2

"Good technique" was kind of the theme of the day. Nepomniachtchi made good use of the bishop pair to win his first game with Caruana, who returned to the Petroff that he also used in the 2018 world championship match:

After draws in the next two games, Caruana managed to win on demand using the Advance variation against Nepomniachtchi's French. "This is complete nonsense," said the Russian player afterward. He felt that he was winning out of the opening and that both players played badly at the end: "It was probably even worse than awful."

Ian Nepomniachtchi FXT Crypto Cup
Nepomniachtchi: "Worse than awful." Image: FTX Crypto Cup.

All Games Day 4

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.

Previous reports:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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