Magnus Carlsen Emerges as the G.O.A.T in the Weissenhaus Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge

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    Magnus Wins Freestyle G.O.A.T Challenge Photo: Maria Emelianova

    The Weissenhaus Freestyle Challenge has finally wrapped up with GM Magnus Carlsen finishing victoriously in the first-ever Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge which was held in his honor, securing a dominant win over GM Fabiano Caruana in the final. Magnus Carlsen claimed the $60,000 first prize as he remarked “It feels awesome to win the event” which he called his “dream tournament”. GM Fabiano Caruana earned $40,000 for the second prize while Levon Aronian clinched third place, receiving $30,000, following a convincing victory against Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who took home $20,000. Alireza Firouzja secured fifth place ($15,000) and qualification for the 2025 edition (alongside the top four) by drawing with Gukesh Dommaraju who walked away with $12,000 while Vincent Keymer that finished in the seventh place, got $10,000 after also winning his second game vs. Ding Liren that walked home with $8,000 as the 8th position.

    “We all suffered with you,” said Jan Henric Buettner to Ding Liren when handing him the 8th prize. Photo: Maria Emelianova

    Magnus Carlsen mentioned that “This tournament has been a dream come true for me,” “I would have said that regardless of how the tournament had gone, but I felt that this whole tournament was a joy to play and I think all the players really, really enjoyed this format and will be happy to be back. So, just a joy to start from start to finish and I can’t wait for the next one”, after being called on stage and receiving his prize.

    Magnus Carlsen was the only player in Weissenhaus who had to defeat eight challengers, as Jan Henric Buettner noted at the prize-giving ceremony: seven grandmasters and himself. As the G.O.A.T. in the tournament of his choice, Carlsen was under more pressure than anyone else right from the start. He stood up to it. In his words, “Sometimes I played too impulsively.” Nevertheless, he often managed to penetrate deep into the unfamiliar position and capture its essence, he said. This may also apply to the second game against Caruana, in which the challenger soon had his back to the wall. “A miniature” was what Peter Leko feared in the opening. At times it looked as if Caruana would stabilize, but in the end, he was outplayed quite comfortably.

    Carlsen faced the unique challenge of defeating eight opponents, including seven grandmasters and himself, making him the standout participant in Weissenhaus. Despite the pressure, Carlsen managed to navigate through the tournament with skill.

    The 8 Grandmasters at the Weissenhaus Freestyle Challenge with Magnus Receiving his award as the winner. Photo: Maria Emelianova

    In the final against Fabiano Caruana, Carlsen employed irregular openings, such as g2-g4, which he humorously referred to as the “Polish” move. Despite occasional self-criticism for impulsive play, Carlsen‘s strategic skill allowed him to triumph, particularly in the decisive final game against Caruana.
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    During the game, Levon Aronian expressed dissatisfaction with his opening move but comfortably defeated GM Abdusattorov, highlighting the challenges of adapting to the unique nature of Chess960 (Fischer Random Chess). Levon Aronian further emphasized the increased severity of advantages in 960, where defensive strategies are less intuitive.

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    Jan Henric Buettner announcing his dream at the end of the Weissenhaus Freestyle Challenge Photo: Maria Emelianova

    Conclusively, Jan Henric Buttener shared his goal and dream, which is to host a Grand Slam of Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenges on five continents, “So, five times a year one of these tournaments, with these rules that I apply with five times the prize money. We’re going to five-fold the prize money so that we have at each tournament a million dollar prize money. The winner would take $300,000, the eighth player would get $40,000″, promising to make the next editions better and more enjoyable.

    Final standings—and new Freestyle Chess ratings. Source: freestyle-chess.com.

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