Home Artificial Intelligence AI Cup: MVL Pulls Off Mission Impossible, Beats Carlsen TWICE To Win Title

AI Cup: MVL Pulls Off Mission Impossible, Beats Carlsen TWICE To Win Title

by Joey De Leon

II throughout the season, Vachier-Lagrave’s victory also secured him a spot in the Champions Chess Tour Finals in Toronto. This qualification came at the expense of GM Vladimir Fedoseev, who had an impressive victory over GM Vladislav Artemiev in the Division II Grand Final but fell short of qualifying due to Vachier-Lagrave’s heroics.

Another standout player in the AI Cup was GM Sam Sevian, who ended the season with an extraordinary feat of winning Division III three times. Sevian also won two matches against GM Rauf Mamedov, solidifying his dominance in Division III.

The final day of the AI Cup consisted of the Grand Final in all three divisions. In Division I, Vachier-Lagrave had the daunting task of defeating world number-one Magnus Carlsen in a four-game match and then again in a two-game “reset” to win the tournament. Vachier-Lagrave showed incredible strength and determination as he successfully climbed this mountain.

The first game of the first match set the stage for Vachier-Lagrave’s victory. After Carlsen opened with 1.d4, Vachier-Lagrave responded with 1…d5 2.c4 dxc4, opting for the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. Vachier-Lagrave sacrificed a pawn for activity in the middlegame, forcing Carlsen to burn time to maintain his advantage. The game seemed destined for a draw until Carlsen made a critical mistake with 28.Bd6?, allowing Vachier-Lagrave to capture a knight and pawn. Carlsen’s position quickly deteriorated, leading to his resignation. Vachier-Lagrave admitted that he got lucky in this game, but luck was on his side throughout the match.

Carlsen missed multiple opportunities to strike back in subsequent games, culminating in a disastrous endgame in game three. Despite having a winning advantage, Carlsen made a questionable decision to trade queens, allowing Vachier-Lagrave to defend and secure a draw. Carlsen’s disappointment was evident as he acknowledged his failure at critical moments.

To take the match to armageddon, Carlsen needed to win the final game with the black pieces. However, Vachier-Lagrave was in top form and launched a kingside attack that Carlsen couldn’t fend off. The game ended in a draw by perpetual check, securing Vachier-Lagrave’s victory in the first match and necessitating a “reset”.

In the Grand Final “Reset,” Carlsen surprised Vachier-Lagrave with an extraordinary queen sacrifice in the opening of the first game. Vachier-Lagrave admitted that he had only briefly checked this line, but one slip from Carlsen turned the tables. Instead of capturing a rook, Carlsen played 31.g5?, allowing Vachier-Lagrave to counterattack. Carlsen later regretted not seeing this move and acknowledged Vachier-Lagrave’s superior play.

Once again, Carlsen had to win with the black pieces to stay in the match. This time, he chose the Sicilian Defense and seemed to be weaving his magic until Vachier-Lagrave made a bishop sacrifice on h7. Although this sacrifice was flawed and losing by force, it disrupted Carlsen’s flow and allowed Vachier-Lagrave to secure the victory.

Vachier-Lagrave’s triumph in the AI Cup was a remarkable achievement, especially considering he had only played in Division II throughout the season. His victories over Carlsen earned him not only the tournament title but also a qualification for the Champions Chess Tour Finals in Toronto. This success came at the expense of Fedoseev, highlighting the high stakes and competitive nature of the tournament.

Sevian’s dominance in Division III further added to the excitement of the AI Cup’s final day, showcasing his exceptional skills and ability to win multiple tournaments. The AI Cup was a thrilling competition that highlighted the talent and tenacity of these grandmasters, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the upcoming Champions Chess Tour Finals.

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