GM Vladimir Fedoseev defeated GM Eric Hansen in the Qualifier 1 final of the 2022 Fischer Random World Championship on Wednesday. These two imaginative and tenacious players fought to an armageddon playoff in this captivating chess variant.
The Qualifier 2 Swiss—open to all FIDE titled players and national masters— takes place on August 29, starting at 5 a.m. PT / 14:00 CEST.
After he overlooked a critical intermezzo, the game settled to a draw.
In game two, Hansen gained the upper hand twice, but Fedoseev fought back both times in the middlegame and endgame. As Hansen pressed his advantage in the rook and knight ending, he allowed his clock to fall under three seconds and blundered a pawn. Fedoseev reacted astutely, taking over the position, winning another pawn, and running his passed pawn quickly down the board to sail to victory.
Hansen faced a must-win situation in game three and was up for the challenge. He gained a commanding position in the center with his queen on d5 and knight on e5. Though material remained equal for many moves, Fedoseev simply had too many weaknesses to defend while barely being able to move his pieces. Hansen broke through to win the e7-pawn and create threats against Fedoseev's king.
With a now even score, the match began anew in the fourth game. Fedoseev gained more space in the middlegame while Hansen struggled with holes in his pawn structure and a passive knight on c8. Despite this, Hansen defended his immensely difficult position like a fort. Eventually, he found a way to break his pieces out of their cages and save the game.
In the bidding stage of the armageddon playoff, Hansen made a bold bid of 9:29 minutes to gain draw odds with Black. This significant time deficit proved to be difficult to compensate for in Fischer Random, where the lack of opening theory requires players to think for themselves from move one.
Hansen gained early activity and control of the center, but Fedoseev fought back, kicking his opponent's queen around the board and planting his queen on the dominating d6-square. In the one-sided time scramble, Hansen's position crumbled tactically.
In the post-match interview, Fedoseev shared his insightful personal approach to Chess960: "Fischer Random is the game you cannot control. It's absolutely impossible. Positions during this tournament were so crazy that it was impossible to judge them correctly. Because of this, I mostly feel like an idiot who tries to find solutions in an absolutely different world. That's why I stayed calm in any trouble and was ready to play any hopeless position."
The Fischer Random World Championship, brought to you by the Government of Iceland and the City of Reykjavik, gathers top players worldwide to compete in a series of classical Fischer Random games for their share of the $400,000 prize fund and the title of FIDE Fischer Random World Champion. Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) is a chess variant where all standard chess rules are the same, except for the starting position of the pieces, which can be in one of 960 semi-random setups. Heavily endorsed by the 11th world champion GM Bobby Fischer, the variant sidesteps opening preparation to highlight players' true understanding of chess.