Chess960: Nakamura and Carlsen start with two draws

by Macauley Peterson
2/10/2018 – The Chess960 competition between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura in Hovikodden near Oslo opened yesterday afternoon with the first two rapid games. The "Fischer Random Chess" (the official name of match) in the "Henie Onstad Kunstsenter" is considered to be the "unofficial world championship" in Chess960. Both games ended in draws. Game 3 starts Saturday at 17:00 CET (11:00 AM EST). | Photo: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg made the ceremonial first move | Maria Emelianova /

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Fresh positions, normal-ish chess

If yesterday was any indication, the concerns raised by GM Jon Ludwig Hammer, which we mentioned in the match preview don't seem to have much practical impact. Hammer worries that the player with the white pieces in the second game may be able to benefit from the three and a half hours between the selection of the opening position and the start of game two. But according to both players' post-game interviews, their discussions of opening theory with their respective seconds between games did not go more than a couple of moves deep, and so had little practical import.

Fischer's grave

One interesting detail that was reported on the live commentary webcast of game one is that the white marble table used in the match is made from the same type of marble as that found in Bobby Fischer's tombstone in Laugardaelir, Iceland (photo at right by Gerd Densing).

For the games of the first day, a starting position was determined in which the knights stood side by side on the queenside in the corner of the board. The position was shown to the players shortly before the start of the first game on a screen in the playing hall:

The players then had a few minutes to study the position before the clocks were started. In the first game (with Carlsen playing white) the players quickly brought about a "normal", symmetrical position, in which they simply exchanged pieces. The conclusion in the endgame was unavoidable.

Game 1


12...0-0 13.0-0


Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf

Carlsen and Nakamura shake hands

The players shake hands after the first game | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Game 2

The second game was lively up to a point:


Nakamura played 12.Rg3, but what would you think of 12.Bxf6 and 13.Rc3 instead?

In the queen and knight ending, the initiative finally lay with Carlsen, but it was not enough for the World Champion to win.




Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf

Nakamura Carlsen

Nakamura and Carlsen trying to describe what was happening in the second game | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

All tied at 2 : 2

The match uses a scoring system of two points for a win and one point for a draw, so the offical score after two games is 2 : 2.

This afternoon we continue with games three and four of rapid chess, with a new starting position, again chosen using a random number.

Daniel King sums up Game 1 and 2

Klaus Besenthal contributed to this report


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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