In the first round of the third day, the shocker.
17-year-old Uzbek Abdusattorov trashes the Champion!
In a thrilling endgame with a pawn on the seventh and a few seconds on the clocks, Abdu kept pressing until Magnus was forced to blunder. It sounds like what Magnus usually does, but the Norwegian was on the receiving side of the treatment this time. After the game, the young stunner said:
""It's a huge victory, but I am expecting to play better in the next rounds."
--GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov
""I don't think Magnus was very angry or disappointed after the game. I think he felt it was an impressive game by his opponent."
Nepomniachtchi beat Grishuk, joining Abdusattoro in the lead, with 8/10. Magnus and Fabi are half a point behind, 7.5/10. Then a bunch of super-GMS with 7 out of 10.
Round 11 presented Carlsen vs. Nepomniachtchi, Abdusattorov vs. Fedoseev, Caruana vs. Duda, Nakamura vs. Hovhannisya. Magnus and Ian drew a classic Catalan with no thrilling moments. Fedoseev had the chance to beat Abdusattorov, according to the engines, but that wasn't enough, and he had to settle for a draw. Caruana drew his game with Duda.
Hikaru Nakamura won against Hovhannisya, joining all the heavyweights half a point behind Ian and Abdu. Grischuk won vs. Alekseenko, going up to 8/11. After the two leaders, Carlsen, Grischuk, Aronian and Gukesh(!). Gukesh D is a young Indian player (born 2006, 15 years old) with a FIDE Rapid Rating of 2050. The penultimate round saw these encounters:
Carlsen(8) vs. Aronian(8); Nepomniachtchi(8.5) vs. Nakamura(8); Gukesh D(8) vs. Abdusattorov(8.5); Grischuk(8) vs. Caruana(8).Nakamura and Grischuk drew in 14 moves.
The two youngest contestants, Abdu and Gukesh, drew a fantastic game, full of tactics and brilliancies. Magnus won his game against Levon playing a spectacular endgame in 69 moves. His technique was absolutely flawless, and Aronian coulòd nothing against such talent. After the game, he refused to get interviewed, probably wanting all the available time for himself to recover from such an incredible effort to beat old rival Levon Aronian. Caruana beat Grischuk in an insane game to join shared lead with Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi, Abdusattorov!
The last round pairings for the leading players:
Nakamura(8.5) vs. Carlsen, Caruana(9) vs. Nepomniachtchi(9), Abdusattorov(9) vs. Duda(8.5), Gukesh(8.5) vs. Grischuk(8). Caruana and Nepomniachtchi drew after 6 moves. Magnus missed a huge chance to beat Nakamura and allowed the American to draw a lost game.
Abdusattorov and Duda drew, as well as Grischuk and Gukesh.
Carlsen must be distraught, as this draw didn't allow him to enter the playoffs.
Indeed, in case of a tie with more than two players, only the two players with the best tiebreaks play the final blitz games to decide the Champion. Speaking to NRK, Carlsen said he thinks the rule about a playoff for only the top two with the same amount of points is "completely idiotic."
The playoff was played between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Nodirbek Abdusattorov. The Russian and the Uzbek surely deserve to fight for the title, but it's a bitter feeling not to see the other two top finishers play the playoffs. It is two Blitz games with time control 3+2. Ian started the first game playing white. The game was a draw. Abdusattorov and Nepomnischtchi played a thrilling game in the second game, with only a few seconds on the clock, and the young Uzbek prevailed.
Adbusattarov is the youngest ever player to win the Rapid Chess Championship. Kudos!
photo credit to Lennart Ootes (https://lennartootes.com/