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HomeChessSarana "Immortal" Upsets Mamedyarov; Duda, Xiong Cruise Through

Sarana “Immortal” Upsets Mamedyarov; Duda, Xiong Cruise Through

GMs Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Jeffery Xiong, and Alexey Sarana were the three victorious players in their round of 32 matches on Friday as the Chess.com Global Championship continued. Favorites Duda and Xiong had to shake off the nerves early against their respective opponents, but both stabilized the matches and won with 2.5-0.5 scores.

Sarana’s path to progression was less straightforward and a wild match against GM Shakriyar Mamedyarov went deep after tying 1.5-1.5 after three games. The match was decided in favor of Sarana after a rapid “immortal,” needing only 30 moves to dispatch the world number-14.

The round of 32 continues on Saturday, September 24, starting at 4 a.m. PT / 13:00 CET and will feature players including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Vladimir Kramnik, and Anish Giri.


Former Manchester United football coach Sir Alex Ferguson said that “attack wins you games, defense wins you titles,” and this proved true on the chess board today for Duda, who miraculously saved himself from being squashed by GM Wang Hao in their opening game. After defending the infamous rook and bishop against rook ending for 50 moves, everything turned around for Duda, who never looked in doubt beyond the first game and won the match with a 2.5-0.5 score.

A single outside passed pawn was all the Polish GM needed to decide the match and exemplary conversion technique was on full display as Duda marched onward to his round of 16 match against tournament dark horse Sarana.

Meanwhile, a tragic blunder with four seconds on the clock left GM Benjamin Bok rueing what could have been if he had secured a draw with the black pieces in game one. Xiong’s dangerous preparation was the catalyst for the clock drainage but Bok managed to keep things under control until the fatal blunder forced a queen exchange, allowing Xiong’s a-pawn to promote.

Xiong’s experience in the Grunfeld Defense shone through in the following game and he was able to secure his second full point in the match, courtesy of a powerful bishop pair. Needing to win on demand with black in game three, Bok’s King’s Indian Defense gave him small chances early, though Xiong tightened the screws and drew the game, knocking out the Dutch commentator and streamer.

Mamedyarov’s match against Sarana was undoubtedly the clash of the day and the two required four games to be separated. Sarana was the underdog in the match, but is well-known as a giant killer and maintained his reputation, winning a messy first game with the black pieces. 

The second game was more one-sided and Sarana found himself trying to break down Mamedyarov’s fortress with a queen and a dream. Unable to find a way through as the clock dwindled, Sarana had the option of taking a draw but wanted more. Eventually, Sarana subjected himself to one of the most heartbreaking moments of the tournament so far, incorrectly sacrificing his queen for Mamedyarov’s rook, forgetting his opponent could stop his passed pawn.

A tame draw in the third game allowed Sarana to settle the nerves before he took the white pieces in the fourth. With everything on the line, Sarana saved the best for last and played one of the best games of the tournament, leaving commentator Hess to proclaim the game as “Sarana’s immortal.”

This outstanding performance is our Game of the Day below.

The elimination of an elite player like Mamedyarov may come as a surprise, but make no mistake: I’ve been following Sarana’s career in online tournaments and he’s got extraordinary results in this format.

Round of 32 Scoreboard

The 2022 Chess.com Global Championship (CGC) is the first Chess.com global championship cycle open to all Chess.com verified players. Players compete in official Chess.com verified events for their share of the $1,100,000 prize fund and the Chess.com Global Champion title.

Chess legends, such as GMs Viswanathan Anand, Vasyl Ivanchuk, Vladimir Kramnik, and Veselin Topalov, compete against today’s best (online) players, including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, Levon Aronian, and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and more. 

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