Final day of the preliminaries

Nodirbek Abdusattorov comes first in the round-robin

All set for the classical games

Thanks to a crucial final-round victory over Magnus Carlsen, Nodirbek Abdusattorov came first in the round-robin part of the WEISSENHAUS Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge on Saturday. The Uzbek grandmaster was the only player to remain undefeated and score 5.5 points.

Vincent Keymer, who scored 1.5/3 on the second day, finished in second place. Poor Ding Liren started with six losses before drawing with Alireza Firouzja. The world champion of classical chess finished in last place.

The final standings of the round-robin deliver the following pairings for the quarterfinals, played at a classical time control and starting on Sunday once again at 13:00 CET: Abdusattorov vs. Ding, Keymer vs. Aronian, Caruana vs. Gukesh, and Firouzja vs. Carlsen. The matches will consist of two classical games.


“I enjoyed it very much, especially analyzing with Fabiano,” said Abdusattorov. “We analyze together because we have similar colors every round. His insights and ideas that we are finding in the analysis is really beautiful.” Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The day started with the first official tournament game between the reigning classical world champion and the world number one since 2013, or since Magnus Carlsen wasn’t one and the same person. In the position they played, the two bishops were in the kingside corner looking at the opponent’s kings like long-distance missiles ready to be launched. And, later it turned out that it also allowed for quite a long “short castle”, as Carlsen could move his king on b8 all the way to g8 on move 17.

As it went, Ding got outplayed and soon found himself in a bad endgame, a pawn down. With rooks still on the board, the opposite-colored bishops hardly had any effect on his drawing chances.


The world champion vs. the world number one in classical chess. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Sadly for the world champion, he lost his sixth consecutive game the next round. Levon Aronian scored his only win in style:


“I feel very bad for him. I think he’s playing well but something is off,” said Abdusattorov about Ding. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, the two contestants of the 2018 world chess championship, clashed in round six. Once again, they played a great and hard-fought battle. It was Carlsen who had winning chances shortly after he won his opponent’s queen for rook and knight, but Caruana soon managed to build a fortress.


Aronian discussing the game with Carlsen and Caruana. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Abdusattorov then managed to beat Carlsen, for whom it was his second loss in the tournament. For a short while, it seemed that the Norwegian star was going to get away with a draw (when Vincent Keymer would have finished in first place), but then he gave it away after all.

“It was a very nice tournament for me; everything went very smoothly,” said Abdusattorov, who surprised himself with what he called a dream tournament: “I had a couple of dangerous positions throughout the tournament but overall my play was good.”


Carlsen resigns vs. Abdusattorov. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Keymer also played an excellent tournament and only lost to Firouzja in the penultimate round. He bounced with a nice win against Gukesh Dommaraju:

Although the round-robin rapid tournament was important for the pairings, Abdusattorov called it a “warm-up” and noted that “tomorrow will be the first serious day.” Sunday will also be a historic day for Chess960, with the first-ever games played at a long time control. Let’s see what that will bring!

By Peter Doggers

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