GM Magnus Carlsen was in a class of his own at the preliminaries of the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Ending with three more victories, he finished first with a 2937 performance rating before giving his first interview since withdrawing from the Sinquefield Cup two weeks ago—but he didn’t say much.
Carlsen plays GM Levon Aronian in the round of 16 that starts on Thursday. The other pairings are GM Arjun Erigaisi vs. GM Christopher Yoo, GM Hans Niemann vs. GM Le Quang Liem, and GM Praggnanandhaa R. vs. GM Vincent Keymer.
The biggest news of the day was Carlsen finally breaking the media silence as he agreed to be interviewed on the official broadcast. Asked why he resigned after making his first move against Niemann, Carlsen said:
“Unfortunately I cannot particularly speak on that, but people can draw their own conclusion and they certainly have. I have to say I’m very impressed by Niemann’s play, and I think his mentor GM Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job.”
I have to say I’m very impressed by Niemann’s play, and I think his mentor Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job.
Right after Carlsen’s interview, a couple of journalists approached Chess.com to verify if rumors of Dlugy cheating on Chess.com were true, but the CEO of the company pointed out that it was too early to give a public statement about the matter.
Earlier in the day, FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky said in an interview that FIDE has been in touch with Chess.com and that the International Chess Federation is expected to issue a statement within a few days. That would be very welcome because the chess world desperately needs the situation to be resolved.
Carlsen was also asked how the whole situation affected him. He replied: “I’m doing OK, just living my life and trying to do well in tournaments. People who know me and followed, for instance, the tournament in Zagreb in 2019 know that I can sort of shut things out when I play.”
His Zagreb reference relates to his victory at the 2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour despite getting a lot of criticism in Norway for trying to get the Norwegian Chess Federation to accept a $5.9 million sponsorship deal with gambling company Kindred Group.
Carlsen won that tournament in Zagreb with a 2943 performance rating and returned to his highest-ever rating of 2882. Also in the preliminaries of this Generation Cup, his TPR was above 2900.
His game with Yoo looked quite creative, although the concept of opening the g-file is still theory:
“I feel like the quality of my games perhaps drifted a little bit, the last couple today, but overall it was very good,” Carlsen said. Keymer was very close to beating him in the final round. The German youngster qualified anyway, having beaten Erigaisi in the penultimate round.
It turns out Carlsen is an inspiration for the new generation also when it comes to making off-beat first moves in these rapid events. Here, 1…a6 quickly led to a normal middlegame position, and then Keymer played a fine, positional game.
The 15-year-old Yoo bounced back strongly from his loss to Carlsen described above. By finishing with two wins, including a must-win vs. Le in the final round, Yoo made it into the top eight.
“I kind of feel like I’ve had nothing to lose, and I just tried to play with no fear and just tried to play, enjoy the games, and get complicated positions,” Yoo said afterward. “It’s kind of nice to be that guy that nobody really expects anything of. You don’t have any expectations of yourself either, so you can just play carefree chess.”
Julius Baer Generation Cup Preliminaries | Final Standings
|3||Niemann, Hans Moke||2620||2757||24/45|
|6||Le, Quang Liem||2791||2747||22/45|
|7||Yoo, Christopher Woojin||2563||2714||21/45|
All Games Day 4
The 2022 Champions Chess Tour’s seventh event, the Julius Baer Generation Cup, takes place September 18-25, 2022 on chess24. The preliminary phase was a 16-player rapid (15|10) round-robin. The top eight players advanced to the knockout phase which consists of two days of four-game rapid matches, which advance to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $150,000.