The $100,000 Goldmoney Asian Rapid got off to a fast start today – but not for World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
The Norwegian suffered a disappointing first-game loss after the exciting teen star Alireza Firouzja threw caution to the wind in the opener and won.
Carlsen always recovers, however, and scored his first win in the very next round with a trademark endgame powerplay against Hou Yifan, the world’s top female player.
After a quick draw against Wesley So and another win against Peter Svidler, the champ signed off by beating Salem Saleh, the first UAE player to compete on the Tour.
Carlsen ended the day on 3.5/5 and in a five-way tie for the lead.
Up for the fight
The 30-year-old is going for a hat-trick of wins in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour as the online chess season’s seventh leg begins.
He said after that he’s aiming for a “better way” into the knockout stage than he managed in the last event, the FTX Crypto Cup, when he nearly crashed out early.
Carlsen added: “This was a very decent start. I’m never really hard on myself in these first days because I’m never really in top gear.”
Joining Carlsen on 3.5/5 is China’s Ding Liren, who made the early running, Levon Aronian and the two Russians Vladislav Artemiev and Daniil Dubov.
Ding, nicknamed the “Chinese Wall”, is benefitting from this tournament’s earlier start time after having previously had to play into the early hours of the morning because of his timezone.
Of the four Indians taking part, the youngster Arjun Erigaisi and Vidit Gujrathi are ahead on 2.5/5 with Gukesh D and B Adhiban both struggling – despite displaying some fiery chess – on 1/5.
Today’s performance puts the leaders in a strong position to make the cut on day three when the field is halved and eight of the 16 players are knocked out.
As it stands, all four Indians, Svidler, Salem, Firouzja and Hou all face a battle to survive. But with 10 rounds still to play, everyone has a chance of getting into the knockouts.
The Goldmoney Asian Rapid is broadcast live on Norwegian TV station TV 2 and streamed with commentary in several languages on chess24’s YouTube and Twitch channels.
Highlights will also be available in 60 countries on the Eurosport app.
Play begins tomorrow at 13:00 CEST. All games will be hosted on the chess24.com playzone.