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    Entries in Magnus Carlsen (360)

    Thursday
    Jun062019

    Norway Chess, Round 2: Mamedyarov Leads

    Every pairing has a winner, but there are 2-0 winners and 1.5-0.5 winners. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was one of the former, thanks to consecutive blunders by Viswanathan Anand in their classical game, and as a result he leads after two rounds of Norway Chess with 3.5/4.

    Levon Aronian nearly joined him, as he enjoyed a winning advantage against Magnus Carlsen for a very long time, but let a clear win slip on move 54 (54.g5!) and the rest of the advantage drop on move 58 (58.Re4+! followed by 59.g5 kept hope alive). Carlsen is not someone to give a second chance to, and he won the Armageddon game convincingly.

    Carlsen is in second with 3/4, tied with Yu Yangyi. Yu drew the classical game with his countryman, Ding Liren, and won the Armageddon game.

    Fabiano Caruana bounced back from yesterday's Armageddon loss by defeating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the classical game. After winning the blitz and taking the #1 spot on the blitz list, MVL has landed with a thud in this tournament, tied with Anand for dead last with .5/4.

    Finally, Alexander Grischuk went for a known draw by repetition against Wesley So, finishing their classical game in just 15 moves. His optimism about his chances against So in blitz was misplaced: So was winning from early on, settling for a draw - which counts as a win in the Armageddon format - in a position that was still comfortably winning.

    Here are the round 3 pairings:

    Carlsen (3) - Grischuk (1)
    So (2) - Yu (3)
    Ding (2) - Caruana (2.5)
    Mamedyarov (3.5) - Aronian (2)
    Vachier-Lagrave (.5) - Anand (.5)

     

    Monday
    Jun032019

    Vachier-Lagrave Wins Norway Chess Blitz, Beats Carlsen Again

    That's three straight wins in blitz for Maxime Vachier-Lagrave over Magnus Carlsen, though it should be acknowledged that he was losing in two of those games, including today's. Had Carlsen converted his advantage in their last-round game, he would have won the blitz and maintained his status as the world's #1 blitz player. Had he...but he didn't. The result doesn't matter for the tournament - what counted there was coming in the top 5, to get an extra game with White (which could in theory prove a disadvantage, with the Armageddon format), and Carlsen managed that. Anyway, MVL wins bragging rights both in the tournament and in the blitz ratings, so a double congratulations to the Frenchman with three names.

    Final Blitz Standings:

    1. Vachier-Lagrave 7.5/9
    2-3. Aronian, Carlsen 6
    4. Mamedyarov 5
    5. Ding Liren 4.5
    6-7. Yu Yangyi, So 3.5
    8-10. Caruana, Anand, Grischuk 3

    Here are the first round pairings for the main event, which starts tomorrow at 5 p.m. local time in Norway (=11 a.m. ET):

    • Aronian - Grischuk
    • Carlsen - Anand
    • Mamedyarov - Caruana
    • Vachier-Lagrave - Yu Yangyi
    • Ding Liren - So
    Tuesday
    May282019

    Lindores Rapid, Day 2: Carlsen Draws Three Games, Finishes +1, and Somehow Wins Clear First

    It was a very strange event, and it's rare that +1 in a six round, four player tournament will suffice for clear first. That's what happened here, however: Magnus Carlsen's undefeated +1 sufficed, as every other player in the field also won exactly one game, but also lost a game, too - or in Viswanathan Anand's case, lost two games.

    There's a nice report on the final day here, so I'll leave you with that and provide the final day's games here without any annotations. (I might do a ChessLecture show on the crazy game Carlsen played against Sergey Karjakin, but probably won't blog it.)

    Saturday
    May252019

    Lindores Rapid, Day 1: Carlsen and Ding Lead with 2/3

    Magnus Carlsen wasn't in particularly good form today, but poor form for Carlsen is still pretty wonderful for everyone else. He squandered a winning advantage against Ding Liren in round 1 and was much worse against Viswanathan Anand in round 3, but as he only dropped half a point in the first game while gaining the full point in the last one, he still wound up in positive territory. (He also drew with Sergey Karjakin in round 2.)

    Karjakin was the leader after the first two rounds, winning a long ending with Anand. He lost to Ding in round 3, however, when he was attracted to an unsound piece sacrifice. Ding didn't make all the best moves, but it was still good enough.

    Anand was the sole player in minus territory on the day, only managing a draw with Ding in round 2, in his only white game.

    Tomorrow they do it all over again, with colors reversed. Here are today's games, with some annotations.

    Friday
    May242019

    Lindores Rapid Event Starts Tomorrow, Starring Carlsen

    It will be short and sweet: four players in a double round-robin at a distillery in Scotland.* The players are Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Ding Liren, and Sergey Karjakin, and the games will have a time control of 25' + 10"; with a 3' + 2" blitz playoff for first, if necessary.

    Tournament site here, more info here. The games start at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Scotland; 8:30 a.m. ET.

     

    * With GREAT self-control, I've managed to avoid making jokes about chess players (especially of previous generations) and alcohol. You should all be proud of me.

    Sunday
    May122019

    Abidjan Concludes: Carlsen Wins, Nakamura and MVL Share Second and Third

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the coming man on Saturday, riding an eight-game win streak at one point to put some pressure on Magnus Carlsen and the significant lead he build up in the rapid portion of the Grand Chess Tour event in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Could he come even closer on Sunday?

    In a word: no. In a few more words: he did manage to defeat Magnus Carlsen once again in their head-to-head matchup, but Carlsen played well the rest of the day. He scored 6.5 points from his other 8 games, outscoring Vachier-Lagrave by a point today and finishing three and a half points ahead of MVL and Hikaru Nakamura. His form was more impressive today, and with four dominant days out of the five he was a very deserved winner with 26.5 points out of 36.

    MVL played extremely well on days 3 and 4 and deserved his high placement, as did Nakamura. Vachier-Lagrave wound up the overall winner of the blitz, finishing half a point ahead of Carlsen and a point ahead of Nakamura. (He did end up a hair behind Carsen in the blitz ratings though - 1.4 points behind Carlsen, which will be two points when their ratings are rounded off at the end of the month.) Aside from his entirely unnecessary loss to Bassem Amin on day 2 he performed extremely well in the rapid, and while the first day of the blitz was a disaster by his standards he played very well in the second day of the blitz. He started today with 6.5/8, including a victory over Vachier-Lagrave in the day's third round, and was only stopped by Magnus Carlsen in the last round.

    The next finisher, Wesley So, was another three and a half points behind Nakamura and MVL. 19.5/36 is a very good score in such a field, even if it left him a full seven points behind Carlsen. Ding Liren finished another point behind, and everyone else finished with a minus score. Here are the final, combined standings:

    1. Carlsen 26.5 (out of 36)
    2-3. Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave 23
    4. So 19.5
    5. Ding Liren 18.5
    6. Wei Yi 16.5
    7-8. Nepomniachtchi, Karjakin 15.5
    9. Topalov 11.5
    10. Amin 10.5

    Saturday
    May112019

    Abidjan (Ivory Coast) Rapid Completed (Blitz to Come); Carlsen Crushing

    What's especially remarkable is that Magnus Carlsen isn't even playing his best chess, and he still managed to win the rapid portion of the first Grand Chess Tour event of the year by a point and a half, scoring 7.5/9 (or rather, 15/18, as the rapid games count double compared to the blitz, which transpire on Saturday and Sunday). He went undefeated, went 2.5/3 every day, and never seemed to face any particular challenge.

    Hikaru Nakamura is his closest pursuer with 6/9 (12/18). He was somewhat unfortunate in that his one loss was to the bottom seed and tournament tailender Bassem Amin, especially since he enjoyed a serious to winning advantage for significant chunks of the game, and should have managed at least a draw up until almost the very end. Had he won that game, it's very possible that he would have trailed by just a single point (on the double scoring).

    Wesley So and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are a further half (full) point behind. Both lost to Carlsen, and MVL also lost to Nakamura, but both were efficient against the lower half of the table.

    Ding Liren also performed well, finishing on +1 despite a loss to his countryman Wei Yi. Speaking of the latter, he is on 50%. He started well with 2.5/3, but went winless the rest of the way, losing to MVL in round 4 and to Carlsen in the last round.

    Veselin Topalov and Sergey Karjakin were well back, finishing on -3, while Amin and - very surprisingly - Ian Nepomniachtchi were both -4.

    The next two days are all blitz: nine rounds (a full round-robin) tomorrow and another nine rounds (with colors reversed) on Sunday. Those games will count for a point each, meaning there will be a total of 36 points available. Here are the current standings (based on 2-1-0 scoring):

    • 1. Carlsen 15 (of 18)
    • 2. Nakamura 12
    • 3-4. So, Vachier-Lagrave 11
    • 5. Ding Liren 10
    • 6. Wei Yi 9
    • 7-8. Topalov, Karjakin 6
    • 9-10. Amin, Nepomniachtchi 5

    The event website is here, and if you want to watch the video replays you can find them here, here, and here.

    Sunday
    May052019

    Grenke Chess Classic: The Big Round-Up (Carlsen Smashes the Field)

    The big story is the obvious one: Magnus Carlsen is back and playing some of the best chess of his career. He started with two wins, let Viswanathan Anand slip out of what should have been his third straight win in the event and sixth consecutive win overall - and after two more draws he finished with four more victories to win the tournament going away. His score of 7.5/9 put another 14 rating points in his pocket, bringing him to 2875 on the live rating list, just seven points short of his all-time official high rating of 2882.

    (To see Carlsen talk about his recent tournament successes, here's an hour-long video with Jan Gustafsson to satisfy your chess palate.)

    In second place, maintaining his role as the loyal opposition, Fabiano Caruana finished with an undefeated 6/9. He gained a few points, made some money, and showed that he is still clearly the world's #2 player. And aside from his Bundesliga loss to Peter Leko in March, he, like Carlsen, has gone undefeated in classical chess for a very long time.

    Arkadij Naiditsch and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave tied for 3rd-4th, with Naiditsch getting the podium spot on tiebreaks. This was a success for Naiditsch and perhaps a very mild failure for MVL. Naiditsch had a particularly easy draw against Carlsen, who admits in the interview linked above that he plays poorly against Naiditsch, who is at least slightly in his head.

    Anand, Levon Aronian, and Peter Svidler all had so-so events. The former should have lost to Carlsen, obtaining a lost position right out of the opening, while the other two did lose to him, as the champion got hot at the end of the tournament.

    Francisco Vallejo Pons had a so-so event, finishing at -1, more or less in keeping with his rating as one of the underdogs.

    Georg Meier and Vincent Keyemer finished tied for last with 2 points apiece. For Meier it was a very harsh event, and although he was the second lowest-rated player in the field, he still underperformed his rating by a significant margin. There was one bright spot, however, when he crushed Anand in what was a terrible game for the former champion. For Keymer he came out a tiny bit ahead as far as ratings were concerned, but the main thing is that it was a fantastic opportunity and experience for him. He enjoyed a decisive advantage against Carlsen in round 1, and was doing very well against Caruana in round 3. He defeated Meier in round 5 and then drew with Aronian in round 6 and Svidler in round 7 - very respectable results for just about anyone, never mind a 14-year-old making his debut at this level.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Carlsen 7.5/9
    • 2. Caruana 6
    • 3-4. Naiditsch, Vachier-Lagrave 5
    • 5-7. Anand, Aronian, Svidler 4.5
    • 8. Vallejo 4
    • 9-10. Meier, Keymer 2

    I'll post the games from rounds 3-9 later (round 1 and round 2, and the games played therein, were already covered)--hopefully tonight.

    Sunday
    Apr212019

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 2: Carlsen Wins Again, Keymer Loses Again, and Svidler Breaks the Pattern

    Today's round of the Grenke Chess Classic had much more blood than yesterday's. Magnus Carlsen led the way once again, and won his second straight game in the tournament and fifth overall, grinding out a victory over Francisco Vallejo Pons. He didn't have much to work with and the ending should have been drawn, objectively speaking. But as Carlsen has shown time and time again, "should" doesn't matter. The opponent has to prove the draw, and Vallejo didn't manage it. It's a great start for Carlsen, who achieved his 2-0 score with the black pieces. Tomorrow he'll finally get White, against Viswanathan Anand.

    Speaking of Anand, he also won, defeating local prodigy Vincent Keymer. It was a smooth win with White for the former champ, and now the tournament will not only put Keymer's strength to the test, but his resilience as well.

    The third winner on the day was Peter Svidler, who outplayed Arkadij Naiditsch with Black with what looked like surprising ease.

    The other two games were drawn. Fabiano Caruana played an unusual anti-Sicilian against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave obtaining an interesting and perhaps slightly advantageous position in the queenless middlegame that quickly ensued. Caruana had what fun there was to be had before the game was eventually drawn. Meanwhile, Georg Meier had the more comfortable position on the white side of a short draw against Levon Aronian.

    The games are here (without notes - it's Easter!), and these are the pairings for round 3, tomorrow:

    • Aronian (1) - Vallejo Pons (.5)
    • Svidler (1.5) - Meier (1)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1) - Naiditsch (.5)
    • Keymer (0) - Caruana (1)
    • Carlsen (2) - Anand (1.5)

    Saturday
    Apr202019

    Grenke Chess Classic, Round 1: Carlsen Wins, Leads

    Round 1 of the Grenke Chess Classic is in the books, and the most important game was a memorable one. With Black against German prodigy Vincent Keymer, Magnus Carlsen felt compelled to take some extra risks to guarantee that he could play for a win. He succeeded, but it took a very long time - 81 moves - and he was probably losing (and at least in very big trouble) early on. A Keymer miscalculation or two let Carlsen escape his early woes and start grinding with an extra pawn, and it was bearing fruit until a very big error on move 56.

    This allowed Keymer to reach an objectively equal position, if one where he still had to work hard to prove the draw. At first he handled the situation properly, but on move 67 committed a fatal error. A drawing line was available, and it's likely that he calculated it, too. My guess is that he assumed the position would be lost and didn't bother to check; had he done so, he would have discovered that it draws pretty easily. Missing - or rejecting - this opportunity, he found himself in a lost position, and Carlsen took home the full point without giving Keymer another chance to survive.

    The other four games were drawn, and without anything especially interesting taking place. Levon Aronian had a nice edge early on against Arkadij Naiditsch, but quickly let it slip.

    The other three games were less eventful, with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's "game" with Viswanathan Anand being rather pitiful. (It was drawn in 20 moves, by repetition, following numerous predecessors.) Unless MVL was sick or only reached the tournament at the last minute due to some logistics problems, it's a pretty lame performance. (If something was wrong, then never mind!)

    Peter Svidler decided to test Fabiano Caruana's Sveshnikov (Caruana has been playing this quite a bit lately; if you can't beat 'em, join 'em), and at least as a practical matter failed to achieve anything. Caruana enjoyed the easier play and could have pressed with 31...Kf7 instead of liquidating to a dead drawn ending with opposite-colored bishops.

    Finally, the game between Georg Meier and Francisco Vallejo featured an unusual opening, and while Meier obtained an advantage early on the slow 17.Bf1 let it slip. (17.Nb3 was better.) A repetition soon followed, and the game was drawn on move 25.

    The games, with my notes to Keymer-Carlsen, are here. Here are the round 2 pairings:

    • Vallejo (.5) - Carlsen (1)
    • Anand (.5) - Keymer (0)
    • Caruana (.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (.5)
    • Naiditsch (.5) - Svidler (.5)
    • Meier (.5) - Aronian (.5)