The second event of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, called the Charity Cup kicked off today, once again featuring Canadian GM Eric Hansen as one of the sixteen participants.
As previously discussed, the format for these events has changed from last year to encourage players to play aggressively for a win. Three points are awarded for a win, and one for a draw. Further, prize money is awarded in each round of the event.
Also, importantly, the Charity Cup is raising money for UNICEF, specifically supporting Ukrainian children. On day one of the event over $17,000 was raised from viewers and even some of the commentators. (Anyone interested in making a contribution can visit the UNICEF site here.
The Charity Cup, like all regular tour events, comprises a fifteen-round round robin, from which the top eight players advance to a series of knockout rounds. All events are played online, with a 15+10 time control.
Many of the strongest players in the world are participating in the event, including regular tour players Magnus Carlsen, Richard Rapport, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Jorden van Foreest. Also appearing in the event are three GMs from India, Praggnanandhaa, Gujrathi Vidit and Pentala Harikrishna. we were also pleased to see Ding Liren, China’s top player, as well as two very strong Chinese women, Ju Wenjun (the current Women’s World Champion) and Lei Tingjie.
Rounding out the field are the sole American, Hans Niemann, Vietnam’s Le Quang Liem, Spain’s David Anton, England’s Gawain Jones and the Czech GM David Navara.
Typically the top eight competitors from the previous tour event are invited to the next. This would have included Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vladislav Artemiev and Andrew Esipenko, but according to chessbase.com, “after careful consideration the Tour has decided not to include any Russian players for the tournament starting on March 19.”
It should be noted that dozens of top Russian players have signed an open letter in opposition to the war.
Hans Niemann, one of the lowest rated players in this tournament, dazzled and leads after day one with ten points (three wins and a draw), tied with the top Vietnamese player Le Quang Liem.
Four games of the round robin were played on this first day, and there were some pretty dramatic games. Eric Hansen played solidly against Magnus Carlsen, but a single mistake, late and in time trouble, cost him the game. (Carlsen, as we all know, is a notoriously tough fighter.) Hansen redeemed himself later by soundly defeating David Navara in a wild game with multiple pawn promotions.
But it was Ding Liren’s stellar victory over Magnus Carlsen that we will end with today.