Vietnamese star Liem Quang Le and the teenage American Hans Niemann set the pace on day 1 of the Charity Chess Cup 2022 as more than $17,000 was donated to UNICEF. The two underdogs both racked up three wins and a draw to finish unbeaten on 10/12 points. World Champion Magnus Carlsen, meanwhile, ended on a sour note with a loss to the Chinese No.1 Ding Liren. Follow: Charity Cup 2022 live / Charity Cup 2022 video
The Norwegian suffered yet another slow start to a Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event as he closed on 7/12 and way down in sixth on the Prelim stage leaderboard.
Carlsen had begun the Charity Cup supported by NEAR Foundation in solid form with a draw against the Pole Jan-Krzysztof Duda and then a win over Indian star Pentala Harikrishna.
Carlsen then won again in Round 3 against Eric Hansen – but only after the Canadian streamer made a one-move endgame mistake in time trouble.
The World Champion then spoiled his day with a Round 4 hiccup against Ding. Just like the start of the last event, the Airthings Masters, Carlsen has left himself work to do.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Niemann – the third-lowest ranked player in the event – was overjoyed with his performance.
Sporting a new shaven haircut, the world No.123 said: “With the experience from the first [event], I really didn’t feel any nerves at all.”
He added: “When I’m relaxed, good things happen.”
Next up for Niemann, it’s Carlsen in Round 5 tomorrow. The world No.1 will be looking to get moving quickly against his young opponent.
As the games were going on, the event was raising money for UNICEF to help its humanitarian work in and around Ukraine.
By the end of play, more than $17,000 had been donated including $1,100 from Grandmaster and Tour commentator David Howell auctioning off his “lucky” chess tie.
Tour commentator Jovanka Houska thanked viewers for contributing the cause.
She said: “It’s a wonderful thing to show we are part of a chess community and to help a country that is in need.
“My heart goes out to every single one of you who donated and I hope we can raise even more in the next few days.”
The Prelim stage ends at Round 15 on Monday. Eight will progress to the Knockout stage and eight will be eliminated.
Tune in at 17:00 UTC / 18:00 CET tomorrow for day 2 of the Charity Cup.