GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa remains the sole leader of the event after day three with nine points and zero losses. He is followed in the standings by GM Magnus Carlsen with six points; after him, we find the GMs Jan-Krzysztof Duda with five, Anish Giri with four, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Le Quang Liem and Jorden van Foreest with three.
GM Eric Hansen joined the others with three points after winning a decisive game before having to enter the playoffs. Thus, no tiebreaks at all were played.
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With both players coming from wins on the previous day, Le opted to continue his strike with a Queen’s Pawn Opening and a fianchetto on the kingside. Pawn pushes by both sides followed quickly and stabilized Le’s advantage, but he gave it away with the move 9.Bg5. Praggnanandhaa started putting pressure on his opponent, who kept hurting his own position with rather passive moves.
This thrilling first game came to an abrupt end when Praggnanandhaa started hunting the white king with checks starting with …Qg2+ before accepting his opponent’s draw offer with only a few seconds time left on his clock: A dramatic ending for what should have been a won game.
Le described this first game of the match as “an interesting game in which I was at times under pressure … I am happy with his draw, as I feared I would lose this game.”
Praggnanandhaa went on to win his next two games against Le—who defended like a beast—repeating the story we’ve seen these last two days. He again won three tour points and is still unbeaten.
“Today, it was as difficult as in the last two days,” he commented on his success, adding: “I’m having a lot of fun playing these players. Rapid is always fun.”
Their first game of day three ended in an uneventful draw in 21 moves after Giri chose to trade queens with 13.Bxe5 and thus give away the slight advantage he had after the opening.
In game two, the Norwegian opted for the Four Knights Variation of the English Opening, and the game evolved into a theoretical battle between these two very universal players. Giri chose a line with which he had a good score against other top players and played confidently for a long time. After exchanging queens with 25.Qxf6, the world champion managed to turn the game in his favor, with the Dutchman only having around three minutes left to defend Carlsen’s extremely strong position.
The world champion went on to win this game after forcing a bishop exchange by blocking his opponent’s one with 33.d4 and won a full point with accurate though very quick moves before promoting his a-pawn.
When Carlsen was asked afterward why he had played so quickly with 10 minutes left on the clock, the world champion answered: “I just played by intuition, but it worked.”
The Norwegian also won the third game of his match against Giri, leaving his opponent with zero points for today and himself winning three.
Van Foreest-Duda: 0.5-2.5
Van Foreest had to accept defeat after being a minor piece down against Duda in game one. The second game between the wildcard of this event and the FIDE World Cup 2021 winner resulted in a draw. Thus, the Dutch GM entered the third game in a must-win situation.
The Four Knights Variation of the Italian Opening was played confidently by both players. After following some modern theory, White stabilized his solid structure but suddenly committed the terrible blunder 13.dxe5??, and after Black’s response 13…Ng4! there was no hope left for Van Foreest to even draw this game.
In the end, Duda led the match with 2.5-0.5, needing only three out of the scheduled four games to win the match.
Hansen was not able to score any points in the first two days of the event, but he managed to win under pressure in his first game against Azerbaijan’s number one with Black. Mamedyarov took revenge in the second game and the players made a draw in the third game. The fourth game was decisive and concluded the match before the playoffs.
Both players took it slow after Hansen opened with the king pawn; then the players quickly exchanged central pawns before finishing the development. Hansen eventually managed to be slightly better after Black’s 16…Qf6. He continued to slowly take control of more squares as Mamedyarov left him space.
Black asked for too much and weakened his kingside, which led to an objectively winning position for White after 22…Bd6. Nothing was decided yet, though, as Hansen had two minutes less than his opponent. After many piece exchanges, a sharp position arose.
Finally, Black’s position became too vulnerable to resist White’s superior one, and with an extra pawn, the Canadian GM went on to win his first match of the event and earn three valuable tour points.
Oslo Esports Cup Day 3 Standings
All Games Day 3
The Champions Chess Tour consists of six regular events with 16 players and three majors with eight players. Regular events adopt a 3-1-0 score, where players who win get three points, players who draw get 1, and losers get 0. Major events, on the other hand, adopt a 3-2-1-0 score system, similar to the 3-2-1 system described above but with one difference: players who win on tiebreaks get 2 points while tiebreak losers get 1.
The Oslo Esports Cup is the first major of the tour: a round-robin among eight players, with each round consisting of four-game matches (15|10) each day which advance to blitz (5|3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks in case of a tie.
The 2022 Champions Chess Tour’s first Major, the Oslo Esports Cup, runs April 22-28 on chess24. The format consists of one four-game match every day for each player. Play advances to blitz (5+3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black has four with no increment) tiebreaks only if a match ends in a tie. The total prize fund for the event is $210,000, with each win in the regular games earning the player $7,500. Each win in the tiebreaks earns the winner $5,000, with $2,500 going to the loser.