Gukesh dominates Carlsen in Freestyle Chess; secures joint second after day one
Grandmaster D Gukesh threw one salvo after another to beat world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Levon Aronian of Armenia and eventually reigning world champion Ding Liren of China on the first day of the Weissenhaus Chess Challenge that got underway here.
After a rather sedate start that cost him a full point in the opener against Alireza Firouza of France, Gukesh was in full swing and ended the day with three points in all out of a possible four and is in joint second place in the rapid section behind Vincent Keymer of Germany who notched up 3.5 points.
Nodirbek Abdusattarov also matched Gukesh on points after remaining unbeaten on the opening day while the trio of biggies Carlsen, Firouza and Fabiano Caruana of the United States are in joint fourth spot with two points apiece in the $200,000 prize-money tournament. Levon Aronian of the United States, with a lone draw, is sole seventh while surprisingly Ding Liren is at the bottom after losing all four games.
The rapid format has been designed to pick up the pairings for the knockout stage between the same eight players. Whoever finishes first will play against the person finishing last as is the norm in the knockouts.
For Gukesh, the highlight of the day was his victory over Carlsen. The middle games arising out of chess 960 or freestyle chess are always almost unknown and, showcasing his skills, Gukesh took his chances in a complicated endgame. Carlsen was not able to concentrate at his best as he made a few inaccuracies to let Gukesh come on top and a further error cost the world number one a piece. The rest was child's play.
In the third round, Gukesh was tested by Aronian's Bishop sacrifice as early as on move eight but, ignoring the same, Gukesh went for his counterplay in the centre.
Aronian lost a piece eventually and it was all over in just 39 moves.
Against Ding Liren, Gukesh was at his technical best as he unleashed a rook sacrifice for a minor piece early and Liren found his position to be crumbling soon afterwards. In the complications that ensued, Liren was outdone by Gukesh's precise calculation. The game lasted 37 moves.
Earlier in the first game of the day, Firouza got off to a flier defeating Gukesh but could not keep the same momentum in the remaining games.
With three rounds to come in the rapid, it remains to be seen who will play whom in the quarterfinals. Interestingly the quarters, semis and finale will be played under standard time control rules with 90 minutes to each player for forty moves and 30 minutes to finish the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one.
All rounds of the knockout stage will have two standard games and in case of a tied result, games of shorter duration will be played to decide the winner.
Results -- Round 1: D Gukesh (Ind) lost to Alireza Firouza (Fra); Nodirbek Abdusattarov (Uzb) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm); Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Vincent Keymer (Ger); Ding Liren (Chn) lost to Fabiano Caruana (USA).
Round 2: Gukesh beat Carlsen; Abdusattarov beat Liren; Firouza drew with Caruana; Keymer beat Aronian.
Round 3: Aronian lost to Gukesh; Liren lost to Keymer; Carlsen drew with Firouza; Caruana drew with Abdusattarov.
Round 4: Gukesh beat Liren; Carlsen beat Aronian; Firouza lost to Abdusattarov; Keymer beat Caruana.
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