Magnus Carlsen convincingly wins Airthings Masters

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/26/2022 – Magnus Carlsen won the first event of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour as he beat Ian Nepomniachtchi in the finals of the Airthings Masters. After drawing the first set on Friday, the world champion won the second 4-game mini-match by a 2½-½ score. Nepo did not go down easy, though it was Carlsen who performed at a higher level at the critical points in games 2 and 3.

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Upward trend

Meltwater Champions Chess TourThe perennial favourite grabbed the title in the first event of this year’s Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. Magnus Carlsen was not only the highest-rated player in the field — by quite a margin — but also came from winning the first two editions of the online series organized by his own Play Magnus Group.

Carlsen’s performance in the second set of the final was very convincing, much like what he had shown in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the knockout. However, things had not gone that smoothly for him at the start of the tournament. The Norwegian, who would later announce that he recently contracted Covid-19, lost two out of four games on the first day of action, and often mentioned he was feeling dissatisfied with his play during the prelims.

Known for being a slow starter, the world champion had little trouble getting past Le Quang Liem and Vladislav Artemiev to reach the finals. His opponent in the 2-set deciding match was none other than Ian Nepomniachtchi, his latest challenger to the world crown in classical chess. Nepo came from winning the prelims and also showing strong performances in the first two stages of the knockout.

On Thursday, Russia invaded Ukraine, which naturally affected all involved, especially the Russian players. Nepo was visibly disquieted, of course, but nonetheless put up a great fight on the first set of the finals, which ended in a draw. On the second set, though, it was Carlsen who showed stronger nerves to find the winning path during critical moments.

After scoring a 2½-½ victory in Saturday’s mini-match, the world champion noted:

I felt I was playing better as the tournament went along.

The second event of the tour, also a ‘regular’ tournament, will kick off on March 19.

See all ChessBase reports on the 2022 Airthings Masters

Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi

Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi during game 2 of the 2021 World Championship match in Dubai | Photo: Eric Rosen / FIDE

Carlsen had the black pieces in the first game of the second set. The eventual winner of the event managed to put pressure on his opponent, but could not convert his edge into a win. In game 2, Nepo miscalculated his 24th move.


Black went for complications with 24...Rad8, allowing White to grab the knight with 25.gxf4. There followed 25...Qxf4 26.Qe2 Rde8 27.Qd3 h5


Nepo did get active play in compensation for the sacrificed material (the bishop on b7 is pointing at the kingside), but as Carlsen showed in the next few moves, White can stabilize the position while dealing with Black’s threats.

This is how things looked after further simplifications.


Black has two pawns for the piece, but after 36.c4 it is hard to imagine him creating meaningful play on the queenside. Carlsen activated his knight, and got ahead on the scoreboard when his opponent resigned on move 50.

Nepo needed a win in one of the following two games, and he decided to create complications immediately, when he had the white pieces. The Russian star got an edge in the double-edged position arising from a Sicilian Taimanov, but a strategic error on move 22 turned the tables in Carlsen’s favour. The world champion ended up winning that game as well, and thus secured tournament victory.


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/4/2022 12:01
@WillScarlett I'm sure you agree that history is not just something that happens to us. We are part of history and with our modest assets, we can contribute to it. The antidote to abnormality is normality in my opinion. Maybe the closest to normal is to understand the fact that everyone should have the right for self-determination, independently of race, creed or nationality. This is a direct consequence of the golden rule ("don't do anything to others that you would not like to be done to you"). We will not neutralize the abnormality of the invasion of a country by applying abnormality to innocent Russian people. Instead, I recommend the swaying of everyone into normality, because the truth is on normality's side. Also, abnormality is mentally draining and difficult to maintain. What if Russia "wins" this war? How will it cope with millions of dissenting people? The Russian bear has a great appetite but a poor digestive system. But Ukraine was also abnormal in its policies, as you also pointed out.

I always found your opinion to be interesting, truth-seeking and respectable. I have also agreed with it usually.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/4/2022 11:56
@WillScarlett I humbly thank you for your kind words. I just try to be normal in an insane world. To me it seems that you also try to preserve normality. I'm outspoken ever since in 2008 there was a Romanian chauvinistic incitement against Hungarians in Transylvania (where I live), a province in Romania. Nobody stood up to the terrible hatred displayed in that forum, so I started debating them using their own language. It was an unbalanced debate, where on the one hand hundreds of people using their main language were displaying extremist thoughts, describing Hungarians as subhumans in lack of any respectable qualities in general. On the other it was me, speaking in a very civilized manner even to the most offensive insults and threats. However, the sheer fact that I was cultured, civilized, while my opponents were not, made them lose the debate, because anyone reading the discussion realized that the extremists themselves were displaying the bad attributes they attempted to collectively label us with, so this forced them to change their tone and behave in a more civilized manner.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 3/3/2022 03:56
@lajosarpad - Your last two posts, as were many of yours offered earlier (including those in other articles), are to be commended if not applauded. They are uniformly balanced, reasonable, thoughtful, and fair - AND, calm and polite.

For those reasons I fear you will be attacked and pilloried by those who suffer blindness in at least one eye. I have no use for the doctrinaire and hysterical partisans who are essentially the stuff from which mobs are created.

I have every confidence that you will be able to successfully resist the inevitable belligerent onslaughts from the gangs of the war-crazed who would rather shout and scream than see and understand.

I applaud your good heart and fine mind. Would that there were millions like you !
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/3/2022 03:14
Those Ukrainian young people willing to sacrifice their lives for their nation are heroic. But, as a person who cares about justice, I would like to see a new leadership in the Ukraine, that will treat minorities as citizens and not as enemies. I'm also Hungarian and I viewed the misery of the Hungarians in Ukraine with horror for the last 8 years. So, from my perspective, there is no "good" side, Russia being worse than Ukraine for starting a war, threatening with WWIII and nuclear apocalypse as well and brutally stepping on the faces of Ukrainians. But Ukraine is also bad, as it stepped on the face of Romanians, Hungarians, Polish people and Russians for the last 8 years.

The only victory that I can imagine it is a peaceful resolution that somehow provides safety and (as much) freedom (as possible) both to Ukrainians and minorities. If that does not happen, then it's a negative-sum game where everyone loses and the "victor" will be the side which loses less than the other.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/3/2022 03:11
@WillScarlett human beings tend to assume that there is a "good" and a "bad" side. Even though here the aggressor is Russia and it is closer to being "bad" in the current conflict than the defensive side, we need to

1. Understand what led to this war, what our mistakes was. It's easy to point on Russia for being an aggressor. But maybe starting to arm Ukraine in order to threaten Russia was a bad idea. Also, promising Ukraine that it will get full support was irresponsible from politicians. These promises turned out to be empty promises and now Ukraine has to fight for its life. If the West would have been more honest to Ukraine, then they might have been more careful while dealing with Russia. I 100% agree with you that we need to understand the causes of this war and learn from them.

2. See Ukraine for what it is: a failed state that treated its minorities badly. Russia has the power to protect Russians in Ukraine and this coincides with Russian geopolitical interests.

3. Try to achieve peace. The conflict only escalates if we treat Russian individuals badly. Yes, some sanctions are needed in terms of high politics, but on the individual level, we need to respect any individual, independently of what nationality he/she is part of, including Russians.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 3/1/2022 03:46
@lajosarpad - I want to express my gratitude for your last posting. Naturally, I appreciate being defended from baseless opprobrium, but even without that corrective you provided it was a pleasure to read a post that was perceptive and fair ... and devoid of rancor.

Your reaction to Russia's invasion as "shockingly aggressive" is one I share. I do not not condone it. But I understand it. It also did not occur "out of the blue" .
WillScarlett WillScarlett 3/1/2022 03:36
@Aighearach - Thank you for confirming my expectation of receiving the all-too-frequently utilized ad hominem templates. You predictably dredged up both "anti Semite" and "rant", and even managed to introduce what was for me a paradoxical neologism - "shy Nazi". You did, however, forget "spew", "strident", and "vitriolic" ( among other playing cards). The plain fact that none of these tired and shopworn tags can or should be fairly applied to me did not stop your semiautomatic use of them.

Aren't you aware that many people capable of objectivity will perceive that neither you nor Leavenfish restricted your attention to addressing Zelensky's undemocratic actions ( e.g. jailing his opponents), or justifying ( as if that's possible) the high status of the Azov Battalion in the Kievan government. 14,000 mortal casualties in Donbass and Lugansk since 2014 at the hands of the "democratic" Kievan puppets have also escaped your attention for the moment. Are the "other side's" deaths misinformation?

Lastly, I believe you should thank lajosarpad for manfully and graciously reminding you that your assumption about me was wrong. That is an eventuality I do not expect anytime soon. I fear it is beyond you.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/1/2022 11:56
@WillScarlett I agree that Ukraine was not Heaven on Earth by far. It oppressed minorities. For example they could not use their language freely and there is already a law in place that seriously restrict their own languages in their own schools. Ukraine was a failed state, which was deeply influenced both by the USA and Russia and had no de facto souveraignity. However, Russia's invasion was shockingly aggressive in my opinion.

@Aighearach I would like to point out that the background of the president of Ukraine was brought up by Leavenfish and WillScarlett answered Leavenfish's comment. Your comment seems to assume that WillScarlett has brought that up out of the blue. But you are wrong about that.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/1/2022 11:55
@Floryncd saying that because I am a Hungarian I am surely loving Russia is a stereotype. I didn't expect anything else from you after seeing your first comment which was about applying collective guilt on Russians. My point was that on the one hand there is Russia's aggressive policy. And on the other there are Russian individuals. I find it reprehensible that you want to punish Russian individuals because they are Russians. How about the Russians not living in Russia? Should they also be punished? How about the non-Russians living in Russia? Should they also be punished? Russian individuals - except Vladimir Putin - are not responsible for what Putin did. What if your leader is going mad and attacks a country? Should you be discriminated for that?

@lopezpj33 I mostly agree. Some sanctions are targetting Russia and rightly so. However, Russian individuals should not be discriminated on national/racist grounds like Floryncd suggested.

@Frits Fritschy "how is Nepomniachtchi supposed to go back home with Russian planes being banned and many Western airlines not flying on Russia? And can he get his prize money home?"

Good questions! I think he could go home with non-Russian transport to the Russian border, cross it with whatever means he can (maybe on foot) and then go home with a Russian transport. I'm assuming that there is no availability for a transport that would get him home normally.
lopezpj33 lopezpj33 3/1/2022 08:49
@Frits Fritschy Thanks. In my initial look I was missing the Qc6+ move after that it's pretty straight forward. Fair enough, I'd rather not cause any drama. Nor partake in the drama that is already here....
Aighearach Aighearach 3/1/2022 01:30
41. ...a6 ROFL
@WillScarlett there is nothing "ironic" about your anti-Semitic rant. The President of Ukraine being Jewish is ___why___ you make the "wink, wink" accusation that he's somehow a "neo-nazi." It isn't ironic, it just shows that you're a "shy nazi" yourself.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 2/28/2022 11:25
@Leavenfish - I BEG you to recognize that your most recent post, issued, as is your habit, with a distinctly ex cathedra tone, contains mistakes and dubious assertions. My head is not in a "mire of concepts". I have not and do not "wallow". I was gratified that you didn't play those tired other cards of referring to my postings as "spewed", or "rants", or the Tourette's Syndrome favourite, "anti-semitic" ( delivered usually with indignation and zest).

You did, however, predictably rely on the epithet du jour of implying "disinformation" to the historical facts I mentioned. Another error, typical, was advancing your case by declaiming that "pretty much everyone ... is disdaining ..." the Russian side of the story. Pretty much everyone thought ( once) that the Black c6 pawn move in the Slav was to be disdained. And, of course, pretty much everyone in the Bush II presidency thought Saddam had mountains of WMDs ... or said they did. The tyranny of the majority is one of the flaws in "democracy".

It is ironic but true that the "democratically elected Ukrainian President is Jewish", and yet the Azov Movement, a right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, enjoys Ukrainian state patronage.
The mainstream media you uphold doesn't seem to believe - or publish that. Maybe they think it's a myth. One of our American politicians insisted Antifa was a myth ( perhaps propagated by those wallowing in a mire of concepts ? ) .

You were correct about one thing - you should have just ignored me. They way you ignore facts.
I recommend raising your head and just looking around.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/28/2022 11:16
Okay, I just saw a comment on chessgames 'game of the day', someone referring to 'miss scarlett'. Glad to hear you weren't meant.
I don't play on internet, just over the board (even with people I don't agree with).
WillScarlett WillScarlett 2/28/2022 10:42
@ Frits Fritschy - I have never used the nic or pseudonym of "garech". On I am "Alumbrados",
but I post nothing there - I don't even know (or care) if there is a chat room there. I do play 2 1, and 3 2 there a great deal, with no more superb results than I achieved at . Perhaps we can play some games sometime soon if those time limits are agreeable and my ratings for each don't arouse your pity or contempt .
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/28/2022 07:56
Another thing that I wonder about. Will Scarlett, are you also known as 'garech'?
Leavenfish Leavenfish 2/28/2022 05:15
@WillScarlett - When you asked people to ‘educate themselves’ by posting a youtube link to a well known right-wing 'disinformation’ website (from the Netherlands?) about the evils of the “Mainstream Media” – a link equating the Ukranian Govt with ‘Neo-Nazism’ (you DO realize the democratically elected Ukrainian President is Jewish???). I should have just ignored you.

I shall from now on but BEG one last time that you try to raise your head out of the mire of concepts in which you wallow and just look around. Consider that pretty much everyone – FIDE included – is showing their disdain with Russia and its brutal military subjugation of a sovereign, democratically elected government. Think ‘warm water ports’ and Ukraine’s desire to join NATO…that’s really all one really needs to know about why this is happening.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/28/2022 11:00
Lopezpj, Ka1 Bb3+ Kb1 Qa2+ and Qa1#, or Kc1 Qc6+ Kd1 (Rc2 Qxc2#) Bb3+. Some people react by seeking an escape, some need to release some steam and some don't care. Let them be.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 2/28/2022 04:46
Leavenfish should know that not every Ukrainian was thriving and comfortably " to live under their directly democratically elected government of less than 3 yrs ...". For example. after winning the election, the President shut down three TV stations that were openly critical of him and his policies. He also imprisoned the head of the opposition party that had come in 2nd place and arrested and jailed that party's leaders ( all with the support of the U.S. ) . For that matter, there was a notorious precedent seemingly forgotten by more people than Leavenfish. I refer to the U.S. organized coup of 2014 that usurped power from the "democratically elected government" of Yanukovych and replaced him with the unelected candy man crook, Poroshenko, before "which time THEY saw fit
to change" things by a democratic election. "Uncle Sam" did all that by spending 5 billion dollars to pervert democracy in the Ukraine, and all without the help of the KBG. No wonder the eastern provinces VOTED to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russian ... but we don't ever honor democratic voting that goes against us.
lopezpj33 lopezpj33 2/28/2022 03:22
@floryncd Isn't there other forums or places to discuss the conflict? Nobody is discussing this article nor the games between Magnus and Ian. If I wanted to discuss the war I could go to MSN articles.

@Frits Fritschy I can certainly sympathize for Russian and Ukrainian players and the struggles they face. Is there no article directly relating to this subject? Because I thought the subject of this article was Magnus winning the Masters.

Guys I get it, this war is a huge deal and very tragic. I wish there were something I could do to help. Honestly, I don't like dwelling on such a sad situation because I know I can't do anything. For me Chess is an escape from the stresses of life. So, if anyone would like to discuss chess with me. I was hoping we'd discuss the game where Magnus wins with black. I'm certainly not as good at calculating as many of you I'm sure, so I was hoping someone could explain the final position in this game and how the next moves would play out if Ian hadn't resigned?
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/27/2022 08:15
Normally I would agree with you. But you can't hide the fact that there is something very serious happening. Even so, people here might try to keep comments about the war in relation to chess.
A thing I was wondering about: how is Nepomniachtchi supposed to go back home with Russian planes being banned and many Western airlines not flying on Russia? And can he get his prize money home?
And what is known about Ukrainian players, and about Russian players protesting against the war?
Anybody with more information?
Leavenfish Leavenfish 2/27/2022 06:53
Chess is about the game AND those who play it. Those who live in a country physically attacking another DO NOT automatically agree with their so called 'leaders'. So, everyone STOP with the broad brush comments/attacks. Specific individuals however 'could be' fair game - but most are smart enough to just keep their mouth shut for the moment. Respect that.

There certainly are Ukranian players who might be hurt/killed/driven from their home country. Lets hope they come out of this okay...and are able to live under their directly democratically elected government of less than 3 yrs until which time THEY see fit to change it. NOT as is seen fit by a KGB officer who has been....ahem...'President' for over 22 years and will be until HE - not his subjects - decides to step down.
floryncd floryncd 2/27/2022 04:24
@lopezpj33 This is not a simple conflict. There is no comparison to past wars. This is the gravest and most dangerous event to human species that ever happened.
lopezpj33 lopezpj33 2/27/2022 03:28
I thought this was supposed to be about chess not politics and war. Chess is supposed to be like the Olympics, compete and represent yourself and your country but leave all conflicts and differences off the board. I would hope these forums could be held to a similar integrity.
floryncd floryncd 2/27/2022 02:25
@lajosarpad. What Russia and Putin do is unprecedented. We are in XXIst century. No country on the planet dared to invade its neighbour until now. There is no comparison in world history for what Russia does these days. But I see you are Hungarian, and so you do love Russia, like Viktor Orban does.
floryncd floryncd 2/27/2022 02:20
@Keshava. Your comment is logically flawed. There is no comparison. RUSSIA HAS ATTACKED AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, UKRAINE, EXACTLY LIKE GERMANY ATTACKED POLAND IN 1939. As long as the Russian people supports Putin, all Russians should be banned, including Russian athletes and chess players. Read Pionki's comment.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 2/27/2022 01:13
Applying collective guilt on all Russians because their leader started a war is no solution. The Third Reich applied collective guilt on Jews. Communists applied collective guilt on the "Kulaks" and the Kossaks. What the people arguing for the application of collective guilt on some people do not understand is that every individual is responsible for his/her own actions and only for those actions. Russia has already been sanctioned by FIDE, as tournaments which were supposed to be organized in Russia were moved at other places. Besides all these, banning Russian players from chess would totally miss the point. It would anger all Russian chess enthusiasts and more. But their anger would not be directed towards their leader, but the West. Also, according to some people Alekhine was a nazi sympathizer. Botvinnik was surely a Stalin sympathizer. If they would have been both banned from chess, because of their political views, then all the values they have created as chess players would not exist at all.
e-mars e-mars 2/27/2022 12:11
Can we talk about chess and about those exciting games played by Magnus and Nepo?
Keshava Keshava 2/27/2022 12:09
@floryncd, because they would first have to ban all players from the United States for the many misdeeds of that country, then ban Chinese players for the misdeeds of the Communist Party, then ban Indians for their treatment of minorities, etc. Eventually all those great chess powers would make their own federation and then FIDE would be irrelevant. Besides, your question is uninformed since the head of FIDE is Russian himself.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 2/27/2022 04:19
For those who have an appreciation of context AND an attention span: -- from eight years ago...
Check out the comments from years ago, too.

For those who may not be aware of Kievan governmental behavior:
Again - check out the comments .

Some coups and forced regime changes have - surprise, surprise - blowback.
Leavenfish Leavenfish 2/27/2022 01:58
@Gree22- Fully agree.

Karjakin however...that man can't keep is 'tweet' shut! 150,000 + forced to flee their country thus far, many dead by the hand of the man he praises...and he tweet's "I go to the beach!" You go to the beach, go and think about a few things. While you are sunning yourself, you might want to pray that organizers the world over don't recall some of these tweets and chose to disassociate with you...lots of good, young players out there they can invite. Some are Ukranian.

Oh, and congrats to Magnus. Who...had some nice responses to Karjakin.
Green22 Green22 2/27/2022 01:33
@floryncd are you HIGH or something sir??? First get a grip. Russia - professional Chess players are not at fault for Russia invading Ukraine lets make that clear. Thats your platform? you want FIDE to ban, and blacklist all Russian chess players? LOL!! how about every sport in the world with Russian players. Do you want the power at be to ban them to? This could be one of the most moronic comments i've ever seen at Chessbase, and i've been coming here for years. wow...
floryncd floryncd 2/27/2022 01:09
Why FIDE does not ban all chess players from Russia? Great shame on FIDE!!! And great shame on, which shows Nepomniachtchi face and games!!!