CCT Day 5: Carlsen Beats Keymer, Wins 16th CCT Winners Final In Division I

GM Magnus Carlsen defeated GM Vincent Keymer in the Champions Chess Tour Classic 2024 Division I Winners Final. In the Losers Semifinals, GMs Alireza Firouzja and Jan-Krzysztof Duda respectively eliminated GMs Denis Lazavik and Ian Nepomniachtchi

In Division II, GM Grigoriy Oparin will play GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the Winners Final. Meanwhile, in Division III, GM Dmitry Andreikin won a nice attacking game with a “kamikaze bishop” to reach the Winners Final vs. GM Nils Grandelius.

Day six begins on Monday, May 13, starting at 12:30 p.m. ET / 18:30 CEST / 10 p.m. IST. 

Division I Bracket

Division I Winners: The Sky Is Blue, Carlsen Wins At Chess

Winners Final – Match Scores

Carlsen was already the favorite, but after winning the Grand Chess Tour: Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz 2024 with a 10-game winning streak on the final day—including a win against Keymer, who lost his last six games in a row—Carlsen’s triumph could have felt inevitable. Against the German number-one, Carlsen won his 16th Division I CCT Winners Final, though victory only came late in the final game.

Games one and three were relatively tame draws, where Keymer shut down any “Magnus magic” in the endgame—and was even the one pressing in the third. But in game two Keymer could have won on the spot if he found the colinear move 25.Qc4!!.

So after three draws, it all came down to the last game, and Carlsen avoided an armageddon tiebreak by winning with the black pieces. After Keymer traded a bishop and knight for two pawns and a rook, Howell quipped: “If I were writing a chess book back in the 1990s, I would just do that squiggly sign, the infinity sign, saying ‘unclear.'”

“Obviously I didn’t know this line that we played really well, so I was kind of improvising,” said Carlsen. “And I felt that after this trade… even though White is probably better, I felt that in a quick game there should be a lot of tactical potential for Black.” GM Rafael Leitao breaks down the entire Game of the Day in detail below. (The game will be added soon.)

Carlsen hilariously, but truthfully, said: “I didn’t have so much energy, but I knew if I won this match I would have two days off… so that in itself was more than enough motivation!”

I didn’t have so much energy, but I knew if I won this match I would have two days off.

—Magnus Carlsen

Keymer will have a second shot in the Losers Final, where if he wins, he will have another duel with an on-fire Carlsen in the Grand Final. Meanwhile, after two tremendous performances in one day, Carlsen shared that at dinner he “got a cheescake to go, so now that cheesecake is going to be devoured. That’s the plan.”

Division I Losers: Lazavik, Nepomniachtchi Eliminated

Losers Quarterfinals Results

While Firouzja handily defeated Lazavik with a perfect score, Duda’s match against Nepomniachtchi went down to the armageddon.

Lazavik has never beaten Firouzja in the Champions Chess Tour, and that record remains unchanged after the French number-one’s clean sweep. 

In the first game, Firouzja took a page out of GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov‘s book with the aggressive 5.g4 in the opening and ultimately played a killer attack without castling his own king. The most exciting moment came when Firouzja played a full rook sacrifice with 19.Rxg7?, a move that could have theoretically allowed the defending side to win. 

In the game, Lazavik had under a minute left, which wasn’t enough to find the miraculous, line-blocking idea of 23…Rd4!!. 

In the battle of Ian vs. Jan, the Polish-number one prevailed in the armageddon. But his attack in game one was the more convincing victory, where he cut through White’s holes on dark squares like a knife through Swiss cheese. 

Lazavik and Nepomniachtchi receive $10,000 and 40 tour points on their way out of the Classic, while their opponents can earn, at minimum, $12,500 at the next stage. Keymer will play the winner of Firouzja vs. Duda.

Division II: Aronian Blunders Piece In Game 2, Oparin Sacrifices Piece In Game 3

GM Levon Aronian won a nice attacking game against Oparin, but the match took a tragic turn for him in game two. In a winning position, he castled—a move that lost on the spot. Can you find the move that forced resignation?

Oparin won a nice endgame with bishop vs. knight in game three, and drew the last, to secure his spot in the Winners Final. In that third game, the star from Mizzou sacrificed his bishop and his pawns overcame a knight:

Meanwhile, Vachier-Lagrave surpassed GM Daniil Dubov in armageddon to make it to the Winners Final. There, he will face Oparin.

Division II Bracket

You can find the full standings for Division II here

Division III: Andreikin Wins With Kamikaze Bishop

Andreikin defeated GM Tuan Minh Le in the first two games and won the match, with a game to spare, with a draw in the third. In game two, Andreikin sacrificed his bishop several times in a row, but capturing it would have led his opponent to disaster at every turn. White won a pawn and then the game after many more moves.

After three draws, Grandelius defeated GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and will meet Andreikin in the Winners Final.

Division III Bracket

You can find the full standings for Division III here

The 2024 Classic is the second of the Champions Chess Tour’s four events and determines one of the players who’ll make it to the in-person CCT Finals. The event starts on May 8 at 12:30 p.m. ET/18:30 CEST/10 p.m. IST and features a $300,000 prize fund.

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