Polish star Jan-Krzysztof Duda reached his first Meltwater Champions Chess Tour final today with a gritty win over the in-form Liem Quang Le. The 23-year-old World Cup winner will face World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the Charity Cup finale after the overall Tour leader dispatched Ding Liren, of China. Duda has built a reputation as Carlsen’s “nemesis” having ended the world No.1’s record 125-game unbeaten streak and knocking him out of the World Cup in December. More about Charity Cup: Charity Cup 2022 participants and preview / Charity Cup 2022 live / Charity Cup 2022 video) Round reports: Hans Niemann and Liem Quang Le lead after Day 1 / Le Quang Liem is sole leader after Day 2 / Carlsen closer to the top in Day 3 / Le Quang Liem wins the Prelims Day 4 / Carlsen – Ding in the semifinal / Carlsen – Duda is the final
Duda overcame Liem, who had led from the front during the event’s round-robin stage, in convincing fashion after breaking through in the first game of their match and then holding on. Liem proved a tough opponent but game 3, which followed a second-game draw, was devastating for Vietnam’s former Blitz World Champion. The speed chess specialist had looked like he had a decisive attack to level the score but rushed at the critical moment and could not break through. Duda held firm to save the draw. It meant Liem was left needing a win in the final game with the black pieces.
The final game for Liem saw him miss a golden chance to level the score as Duda appeared to have blundered with 30.Qb7, allowing black to capture his queen with a discovered attack. Liem, however, didn’t spot it and failed to take advantage allowing Duda to safely close out the draw to win 2.5-1.5 and make it into the final. Duda punched the air in celebration. In the other semi, Carlsen sprung a first game opening surprise with the unorthodox 1.e3 – a first move that seemed to amuse Ding. It also led to a slow start that the champ seemed in control of.
The second game was even closer – both players making no mistakes as the battled to a tense draw by three-move repetition.
He appeared to be hanging on for the draw, but then blundered after a clever move from Carlsen and the game was lost. It all came down to game 4 which Ding – like Liem – had to win.
But heartbreak for Ding followed as the 29-year-old blundered in the endgame with the 40.g6 pawn push. Carlsen took the win and Ding was eliminated.
The event is supported by NEAR Foundation and is being held as a fundraiser for UNICEF. So far, more than $100,000 has been raised.
The two-day final starts tomorrow with Carlsen facing Duda. Tune in at 17:00 UTC / 18:00 CET for day 7 of the Charity Cup.