Giri Maintains Lead After Day Two Of Skilling Open
Day two of the Skilling Open was an exciting day of chess. After two days and ten rounds of action, GM Anish Giri is still in the lead with a score of 6.5/10.
GMs Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, and Wesley So are tied for 2nd-4th with 6/10 while GM Hikaru Nakamura is tied for 5th-7th place alongside GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi with 5.5/10. Tension is starting to rise with five rounds left to go in the round-robin portion of the tournament, as it is still possible for all 16 players to make the top eight.
The final five rounds of the preliminary stage will be played on Tuesday, November 24 before the top eight knockout phase begins on Wednesday, November 25.
The games of the chess24 Champions Chess Tour Skilling Open can be found here as part of our live events platform. IM Levy Rozman and IM Anna Rudolf are providing daily commentary on GM Hikaru Nakamura’s Twitch channel starting from 9:00 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.
Round six was a bloodthirsty affair with five decisive games. It started with two similar and unusual h-pawn moves in the opening—both Carlsen and GM Alireza Firouzja moved their respective h-pawns up one square on move four, completely side-stepping theory. GM Levon Aronian had White against Carlsen, who played 4… h6 after a normal Queen’s Gambit declined:
Aronian replied with 5. g3 and the game morphed into a Catalan-style position. Despite giving up the bishop pair early and giving himself doubled and isolated d-pawns, Carlsen was able to comfortably draw the game.
Firouzja had White against GM Teimour Radjabov and opted for a four knight’s opening. Firouzja’s 4. h3 surprised everyone:
Although the move itself was not the cause of Firouzja’s suffering, Radjabov took advantage of subsequent missteps by Firouzja and won the game convincingly.
Vachier-Lagrave defeated GM David Guijarro Anton in the endgame and GM Le Quang Liem was able to come back from a bad position to beat Nakamura. GM Sergey Karjakin won a nice game against GM Santosh Gujrathi Vidit while Nepomniachtchi had an instructive win against GM Jan Krzysztof-Duda with the black pieces.
The seventh round had some exciting games and featured a fantastic win from Vachier-Lagrave, who won with the Black pieces in only 25 moves. Here is the full game with analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov.
Firouzja played a King’s Indian Defense against Anton and played an early and unsound piece sacrifice. His counterplay was almost nonexistent until Anton opened up the queenside with 23. dxc6 and then allowed 26… b5 a few moves later. After Anton’s final mistake with 29. Qc6?, Firouzja delivered a devastating mating attack:
Radjabov won his second game in a row by easily defeating Aronian. Carlsen won a smooth game against Duda and moved to a 5/7 score, joining Giri in the lead after seven rounds.
Round eight saw Radjabov win his third game in a row as he defeated Duda in excellent fashion. Duda used an unusual double fianchetto move order in the opening that eventually transposed to an English. The position looked balanced until Radjabov started playing on the kingside. After Duda’s 29. Qe1? Radjabov was firmly in control and converted.
The rest of the games were drawn this round, with the most interesting being the Carlsen-Ding game. Carlsen had Black and repeated his 4… h6 in the Queen’s Gambit declined that he played in round six versus Aronian. Ding got a pleasant position out of the opening and maintained pressure throughout the queenless middlegame. It looked like Ding might have some chances, but Carlsen equalized smoothly after he was allowed to develop his queenside pieces and the game was drawn.
The ninth round saw four decisive results. Firouzja defeated Aronian with a powerful attack and So earned his first win of the day against Le Quang Liem.
Radjabov had White against Ding this round and his winning streak came to an end. They played a poisoned pawn Najdorf where Ding went pawn-grabbing. After 15… Qxe5, Ding was up three pawns but was far behind in development. Ding gave up the exchange to solidify his position and then traded queens. The materially imbalanced endgame was not straightforward, but Ding ultimately coordinated his knights after 34… Ng4:
The two tournament leaders, Carlsen and Giri, met this round. Carlsen tried an early 4. Qxd4 against Giri’s Sicilian and a balanced position was reached out of the opening. Carlsen tried to create some imbalances, but Giri didn’t have difficulty navigating the position and the game was drawn.
Duda’s bad day at the office continued with a loss to Anton.
The final round of the day saw another five decisive games as players jockeyed for position in the standings. Karjakin had the white pieces versus Carlsen who tried a Philidor Defense. Karjakin got a promising position out of the opening and started expanding on the kingside quickly. Magnus gave up his queen to imbalance the position but didn’t get enough compensation for it and Karjakin won without much difficulty.
Nakamura got a pleasant position out of the opening against Nepo and had the bishop pair and extra space. Nepo erred with 14… b5? and Naka was in the driver’s seat. He won a piece with 19. Qf3 and cruised to victory, ending his day on a high note.
Nakamura called this a “strange day” on his Twitch channel after the tournament. Apparently, there was a Geico commercial being shot at the TSM facility that he was playing at all day!
Duda was able to end his off-day with a win over Firouzja, Ding defeated Anton, and Le Quang Liem defeated GM Peter Svidler to end day two.
All games rounds 6-10
Day Two Standings
|10||Anton Guijarro, David||2667||5|
|12||Le, Quang Liem||2744||4½|
|15||Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi||2636||3½|
The chess24 Champions Chess Tour Skilling Open runs November 22-30. The preliminary phase is a 16-player rapid round-robin (15 + 10). The top eight players advance to a six-day knockout that will consist of two days of four-game rapid matches, which may advance to blitz (5 + 3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks only if the knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $100,000 with $30,000 for first place.