The world champion made up for a string of lacklustre early showings by turning on the heat on the third day of the world’s first bitcoin chess event.
It’s been an incredibly closely-fought affair in the FTX Crypto Cup preliminaries with just three points separating second-placed Anish Giri from Ding Liren in the thirteenth spot of the sixteen-player field. The event featured each of the top ten players in the world rankings, and it promised a sneak peek into the Carlsen-Nepo mental battles thanks to the round-robin portion of the event.
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The big question heading into day 3 was whether the world champion will even make it to the top eight after winning the previous event in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, after stumbling early on in a stacked field featuring twelve of the world’s thirteen highest-rated chess players. Heading into the last day of the preliminaries with just 5.5 points and a ninth-place spot to his name, the Norwegian had to step up with games against Caruana, Radjabboiv, Nakamura, Svidler and Twitch sensation Firouzja still to come.
FTX Crypto Cup day 3 results
Carlsen began the third day of the event in the same imprecise fashion as the first two, establishing a clearly superior position against Hikaru Nakamura with the white pieces before throwing away his advantage in time trouble and steering the game to a draw. Another split point followed, this time with Firouzja, which meant that the world champion was beginning to run out of chances to gain ground on the competition. In the end, two further draws and a win against Teimour Radjabov was just enough for a top eight place for the Norwegian.
FTX Crypto Cup top eight: the elimination stage
Fabiano Caruana ended up topping the round-robin portion in his first appearance in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour circuit. Carlsen finished in sixth place thanks to his superior head-to-head rating against Radjabov, the same metric which gave Nepomniachtchi the last knockout spot over Levon Aronian. This means that the quarterfinals will feature a rematch of the New in Chess Classic grand final just a few weeks ago, which Carlsen won convincingly against Nakamura.
Here is the list of the quarterfinal-matchups and the players’ overall results:
Fabiano Caruana (10/15) vs Ian Nepomniachtchi (8/15)
Anish Giri (9/15) vs Teimour Radjabov (8.5/15)
Hikaru Nakamura (9/15) vs Magnus Carlsen (8.5/15)
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (9/15) vs Wesley So (9/15)
The FTX Crypto Cup continues on May 16th with the knockout portion of the event. Its prize pool is offered in bitcoin, making it the first cryptocurrency chess event.