Neck-and-neck in FTX final as below-par Carlsen ends So’s hot streak

Magnus Carlsen suffers from illness during setpiece final but still pulls off a brilliant mating attack

The FTX Crypto Cup will be decided in a one-day shootout after Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So shared the spoils on day one.

Following a below-par performance – that still produced a brilliant mating attack – Carlsen, the reigning World Champion, revealed he was hampered by illness during the first match of the final.

Carlsen’s discomfort didn’t stop him from ending US star So’s unbeaten streak of 29 games in this Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event.

But So, who also said he has had problems sleeping, hit back in the third to level with the Norwegian and a swift draw in the fourth ended it 2-2.

Carlsen and So will resume tomorrow to fight it out for $60,000 in cash and the value of 2.18 bitcoin.

In a brief interview afterwards, Carlsen said: “I don’t feel good today – hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow!”

The final is a re-run of two previous finals on the $1.5 million Tour – the Skilling Open and the Opera Euro Rapid.

So won both of those and is going for a previously unthinkable hat-trick of wins over Carlsen in finals.

In the third-place play-off, nothing could separate Ian Nepomniachtchi and Teimour Radjabov as the two losing semi-finalists played out four consecutive draws.

They will resume as well tomorrow in a one-set showdown for Tour points.

Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX

Meanwhile, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried broke the record for surviving against the 10-year-old app version of Carlsen in the Celebrity Charity Chess Challenge.

He lasted 49 moves to overhaul The Office star Rainn Wilson and win $5,000 for his chosen charity The FTX Foundation.

The FTX Crypto Cup is leg 6 of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, organised by the Play Magnus Group. All games are played in the new chess24.com play zone.

The last match of the Tour’s third Major starts at 17:00 CEST tomorrow. If So levels play-offs will follow and an Armageddon tiebreaker if needed before the winner is crowned.

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