Charity Cup Finals: Carlsen gets clear win in first set

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/26/2022 – With a 2½-½ victory over Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Magnus Carlsen grabbed the lead in the finals of the Charity Cup. The world champion won games 2 and 3 to go into the second set of the match only needing a draw to secure tournament victory. All three encounters on Friday were hard-fought strategic battles, with Carlsen describing them as “exceptionally interesting”. | Photo: Alina l’Ami (2017)

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Tense but enjoyable

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour 2022In an interview with Kaja Snare after beating Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the first set of the Charity Cup finals, Magnus Carlsen talked about how he has been enjoying the tournament, as “the chess has been very interesting”.

For a second online event in a row, the world champion has upped his game during the knockout stage after a slow start in the preliminaries. Moreover, he now only needs a draw in Saturday’s second set to claim a second consecutive triumph in the Champions Chess Tour.

Referring to his strategy for the second mini-match, the world champion explained:

I think it’s hard to just engineer four draws easily, so I think I’ll just continue in the same vein — I’ll try and play and we’ll see what happens. As you could see in the third game, I wasn’t particularly playing for a draw, even though it would have been a good result for the match. 

After getting a slight edge in the first game but failing to convert it into a win, Carlsen won game 2 with the black pieces.

 

Duda’s c-pawn looks menacing, but before reaching this position he had to make some concessions, allowing Black to activate his pieces and equalize. Here, in fact, Carlsen could have grabbed the pawn with 24...Bxc6, since after 25.Na5 Rd6 White cannot increase the pressure on c6 with 26.Bxf3 due to 26...Bxf3

 

White cannot grab the queen due to 27...Rd1#

None of this appeared on the board, though, as Carlsen decided to enter a strategic battle instead, playing 24...Ba8 in the first diagrammed position. The black light-squared bishop is as passive as the white knight on a5, which creates a dynamic balance.

In the ensuing skirmish, however, it was the world champion who was quicker in activating his remaining pieces. After wreaking havoc on White’s camp, Carlsen finally grabbed the pawn ten moves later.

 

Fittingly, Duda resigned after 34...Bxc6, as he had been strategically outplayed by the strongest player in the world.

Carlsen won another positional game to end the set after only three games. Perhaps these results will prompt Duda to force tactical complications out of the opening in the second set. Of course, using such a strategy can backfire against the world champion — but Duda has proven more than once in the past that he is totally capable of outplaying the most feared player in the circuit.

 

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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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