2020 Clutch Chess International - Day 6 Recap

Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana qualified to the Clutch Chess International finals after defeating Levon Aronian and Wesley So in their respective matches. Carlsen’s four point lead at the beginning of the day allowed for smooth sailing to the finals, whereas Caruana had the titanic task of overcoming a four point deficit in his own match. The world’s number one and two will face off in a 12-game match, reminiscent of their 2018 World Championship match. Carlsen already has $10,000 in the pocket for his clutch victores in the quarterfinals and semifinals, while Caruana banked $6,000. The players will battle it out for an additional $115,000 in prizes, including $30,000 in clutch bonuses.

Standings after the semifinals

Fabiano Caruana vs Wesley So 9.5 - 8.5

“Doesn’t matter if I lose by 1 point or 8 points”, was Fabiano Caruana’s do-or-die mentality entering day two of the semifinals. Caruana came out swinging right off the bat, winning the first two games in queen endgames. Not only did this result narrow the gap to two points, but it also put more pressure on So, who could no longer rely on his results from yesterday to carry him to the finish line. So was victorious in game three but resigned quickly in game four after getting his bishop trapped. It was time for Caruana to show his mettle and score points in the clutch games, where each win was worth three points. The first clutch game was a tumultuous affair; as the commentators were ready to call the game in favor of Caruana, the world number two started misplaying the position in the time scramble. So’s costly mistake occurred on move 73, as he tactically lost a crucial past pawn and resigned a few moves later. In a must win situation, where either a draw or a loss would disqualify him from the finals the same, So decided to settle for a repetition, allowing his opponent to qualify. In the postgame interview, the 26 year old admitted that he ran out of gas and praised Caruana’s play, stating “Fabiano today and yesterday were not comparable.” He graciously congratulated his countryman, wishing him the best of luck against the World Champion. Wesley So’s final earnings including clutch bonuses round up to $37,000.

Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana on advancing to the finals

Magnus Carlsen vs Levon Aronian 12-6

 To put it simply, nothing went right for Levon Aronian in this match. Just as yesterday, after achieving a superior position in game one, not only did Aronian let the advantage slip away, he actually lost the game. Later Carlsen noted that “when you win a position like that, not very much can go wrong.” The World Champion was already confident going into today, but this game was certainly an additional boost, as it also gave him a five point lead. The second game of the day was Carlsen’s favorite, as he demolished his opponent in a kingside attack. After peaceful results in the next two games, Aronian had to win the remaining two clutch games on demand. He had a promising start in the first clutch game, but by the time the players reached an endgame, it was he who was fighting to survive. With the draw, the World Champion clinched the spot with a round to spare; the final game was an effortless draw for both players. Aronian admitted that he’s returning to competitive chess after a two month break and was in no shape to defeat the World Champion. He earned a total of $31,000 for his efforts, including $6,000 in clutch bonuses.

Congratulations to Magnus Carlsen on advancing to the finals

Tune in Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14 for the exciting finals of Clutch Chess, where World Champion Magnus Carlsen will square off against his familiar rival, World #2 Fabiano Caruana. GMs Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan along with WGM Jennifer Shahade will call all the action starting at 12:50 PM CDT at uschesschamps.com.