A nerve-wracking final three rounds of the Aimchess Rapid prelim stage saw Polish ace Jan-Krzysztof Duda sail through to the quarter-finals in first place while Anish Giri was sensationally knocked out.
Duda, the World Cup winner, sealed his spot and $7,000 in game winnings with an impressive 28/45pts.
The 24-year-old also goes into the next phase having moved up to second in the overall Meltwater Champions Chess Tour rankings. He is now the only player left who can catch World Champion Magnus Carlsen at the end of the season.
In typically understated fashion, Duda – the only player left capable of catching Carlsen – said afterwards: “I’m fairly satisfied.”
Replay the Day 4 action here:
Meanwhile, Dutch No.1 Giri suffered the heartbreak of a last-gasp loss that killed his chances of making the cut. Giri went into the final prelim round needing just a draw to secure his passage. Only India’s No.2 Vidit Gujrathi could stop him with a win and Giri losing.
But Giri collapsed against Arjun Erigaisi and then had to endure seeing Vidit crash through against David Anton and leapfrog him into eighth place. Vidit finished having won three of his last four games.
It was an unexpected turn of events and came after Giri had accepted a series of cautious draws, notably against the American Daniel Naroditsky in Round 12, when he could have pushed harder for wins. Giri admitted afterwards that he “should have played more ambitiously with both colours”.
Vidit, playing from Nashik in northern India, was overjoyed with his first knockout appearance in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
“It’s good to know how it feels,” he said. “I’m thrilled that I’m in the quarter-finals. Actually, it was completely unexpected. In fact, I had already made some plans for tomorrow that were not related to chess, so thanks to Arjun!”
Apart from the battle between Giri and Vidit for the final spot, results elsewhere had meant the final round was relatively straight forward with seven spots already decided.
Gukesh D, the 16-year-old Indian wonderkid who stunned Carlsen in Round 9, finished second on 27/45 edging out the more experienced Shakhriyar Mamedyarov by virtue of having beaten him in their head-to-head and Arjun Erigaisi, who also beat Carlsen.
The World Champion, meanwhile, finished a lowly fifth on 26/45, but will no doubt regroup for the quarter-final stage where he faces Erigaisi. The teenager Nordibek Abdusattorov, who led the first two days, and Richard Rapport complete the quarter-final line-up.
The event features 16 players in a round-robin prelim stage before the field is cut to eight and knockouts begin.
The Aimchess Rapid is the last “Regular” tournament of the 2022 season with a prize pot of $150,000 before the end-of-season final event starts on November 14.
Every move will be streamed live and for free on chess24.com/tour and on chess24’s Twitch and YouTube channels.