In a previous article called Airthings Masters: The First Event of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the first event of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour was discussed. And right now, the fifth event of the tour is being played: FTX Road to Miami. Similar to the first event, this event has a sponsor: FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange. FTX sponsored the world’s first bitcoin chess tournament last year on the same chess tour.
This fifth event is considered a minor. After this one is finished, there will be the major event: the FTX Crypto Cup in Miami. It will start on the 15th of August and last a week. The FTX Crypto Cup will include the current world chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who currently ranks first in the tour rankings with his win in the previous two major events. Also, the world’s number two player, Chinese super grandmaster, Ding Liren and the Indian chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa will play in the FTX Crypto Cup, since they had the first two places in the Chessable Masters’ tournament. The tournament will have a three hundred thousand dollar prize pool, and the hundred thousand dollars of the prize pool will be in bitcoin.
FTX Road to Miami started on the 10th of July and will end on the 17th of July. The tournament included 16 elite and well-known players worldwide (See “Crosstable”). At the prelims stage, half of these players have been knocked out. The prelims stage had 15 rounds and lasted three days. All rounds were online and played on chess24. Nearly all grandmasters played in the comfort of their homes but for some, this became a disadvantage. The time difference was challenging for Chinese players (See “Map”). The tournament had an unusual point system. A win was worth three points, a draw was one point, and a loss was zero points. This point system gave the excitement needed for top-level chess. Because all the players began to fight for the win rather than settle for a draw. Making draws was not enough to qualify for the quarter-finals; to qualify, at least 19 points were needed.
The prelims stage sure was full of surprises. I did not expect Samuel Sevian to shine throughout the tournament. On the other hand, the Azerbaijani super grandmaster Teimour Radjabov started the tournament with five losses in a row and withdrew from it. It was unfortunate. Most likely he was exhausted after the Candidates and could not recover. His performance in the Candidates was unexpected. He surprisingly became the third with a score of 7.5/14. Another Azerbaijani super grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started strongly but lost all of his games on the last day and could not qualify for the quarter-finals. If Mamedyarov managed to make a draw in one of his last three games, he would be in the quarter-finals. It must be extremely disappointing for him. Another player who probably had a disappointment is Norwegian super grandmaster Aryan Tari. Also, Tari could not show his true strength in the first rounds. After the first two rounds, he lost four consecutive rounds and had a comeback on the last day by scoring 2.5/3. His games were worth a deep analysis. Especially, his game against Duda had important endgame technical lessons in it. You can look at the game via this link on chess24. If Tari scored 3/3, he would be in the knockout stage of the tournament.
After 15 rounds, the first 8 players got qualified for the knockout stage of the tournament. In the quarter-finals, young American Samuel Sevian had a tough day. He was very close to guaranteeing his spot in the semi-finals, however, in his 4th game against the Chinese grandmaster Yi Wei he blundered in a better position. His blunder caused a need for a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Wei won against Sevian with a score of 1.5/2. There was a need for one more tiebreak and it was between the Hungarian super grandmaster Richard Rapport and another young American, Jeffery Xiong. Rapport chose to play the first game with black in the tiebreak. It was a smart decision. As an experienced player, he probably had similar situations before. Rapport outplayed Xiong in both of the tiebreak games. He showed brilliant examples of the king’s journey. Both of the games should be analyzed. You can access these games through this link.
In the other games, Duda and Aronian were the ones who earned their spot in the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, Rapport faced Wei (See “Pairings”). In their second game, there was a move repetition but Rapport did not continue with the variation. He was a bit greedy and wanted the win. But soon he blundered and had a bad position. Wei took advantage of the position and won the game. And on the third game, Wei completely outplayed Rapport. He deserved his place in the finals and the Crypto Cup. The other name who made it to the finals and the Crypto Cup was Levon Aronian. Aronian won two games against Duda with black. In his first win, Aronian slowly improved his position in the endgame. The position was tricky and Duda made a mistake. Aronian did not miss his chance to win. In his second win, Duda made a mistake in the opening and Aronian knew how to take advantage of this. Aronian’s attack was very strong. Duda could not do anything to escape from the attack (to analyze the games you can use the same knockout link).
The cup in Miami sure will be thrilling. You should clear out your calendar to watch it. Before the cup, most of the players will play in the 44th Chess Olympiads; thus I am curious about how their performance will get affected. I guess we will get an answer in the next tournament show.
"Chess Arrives in Miami with the FTX Crypto Cup 2022." Play Magnus, playmagnusgroup.com/chess-arrives-in-miami-with-the-ftx-crypto-cup-2022/. Accessed 14 July 2022.
Ince, Safiye Oyku. Crosstable.