A Dramatic Conclusion to the Charity Cup!

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The chess world came together in support of Ukrainian relief in the second regular tournament of the 2022 Champions Chess Tour, the so-called Charity Cup. By the end of the tournament, over $150,000 was raised for UNICEF’s efforts in Ukraine, and donations are still being accepted.

Sixteen players entered the first stage of the online rapid event, which began earlier this week. Aside from the “usual suspects” we were pleased to see Canadian GM Eric Hansen, Le Quang Liem, Vietnam’s #1 player, as well as China’s #1 player Ding Liren, and two of the top Chinese women, GM Ju Wenjun (current Women’s World Champion), and GM Lei Tingjie.

In order to advance from the first stage (a fifteen-round round robin) players would have to place in the top eight. Hansen, although he had some amazing wins, failed to advance. Ju Wenjun struggled against a strong field, and did win some impressive games. There was, of course, a dramatic game between the world champion and the women’s world champion; Ju Wenjun held her own admirably against Carlsen, but ultimately lost. But in the end it was Quang Liem who dominated, winning the round robin stage with an impressive 32 points, followed by Magnus Carlsen, Jorden van Foreest, David Anton, Jan-Krzsystof Duda, Ding Liren, Hans Niemann and David Navara.

These eight players entered the knockout stages of the tournament, with Duda facing Quang Liem in the quarterfinals. Liem, who had been so completely dominant in the round robin, fell quickly to Duda, while Ding lost to Carlsen in the semi-finals.

This set the stage for the final stage of the match, which was two legs of four rapid games between Duda and Carlsen.

Carlsen came out strong in the first leg, winning 2.5./0.5 on Friday. Duda, in order to have any chances, had to win the second leg.

On the second day, Carlsen beat Duda in game one, putting the Polish GM in a must-win situation. Duda, with incredibly tough and resilient play, beat the world champion in the next two games, and fought to a draw in the fourth game. Spectators and commentators were amazed by Duda’s tenacity, which was reminiscent of Carlsen’s own fighting spirit. Duda simply would not yield, and found ways to confound the increasingly frustrated Carlsen.

This set the stage for a series of very quick tiebreak games, which Carlsen won 2-0.

Here is an absolutely wild game from the final leg of games, where Duda held his own against the world champion.

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