Chess960: Carlsen grabs a point from Nakamura

by Macauley Peterson
2/11/2018 – Magnus Carlsen is the first to score in the "unofficial Fischer Random Chess World Championship" match. After a draw in game three, Carlsen came back with the white pieces, and pulled a rabbit out of a hat, winning a queen and pawn ending that looked to be headed for a near certain draw. Game 5 starts Sunday at 17:00 CET (11:00 AM EST). | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

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The pulse quickens

The intensity of the match ramped up a notch on day two, as the first game of the day saw a back and forth nail-biter that nevertheless ended drawn. Game four meanwhile looked like an illustration of Hikaru Nakamura's adept defensive skills, and the queen and pawn ending that arose after time control was dead equal. But in rapid chess anything can happen, and as the clock ticked down, and Carlsen kept applying pressure, Nakamura cracked.

Checking the starting position

The players watch as the starting position for games three and four is revealed | Photo: Maria Emelianova /


Position 412 in the Chess960 lexicon

Game 3

Neither side castled in game three, but the most noteable ramification of the particular handling of the starting position was Carlsen's development of his darksquared bishop to a7 (from the b8 starting square), where it stayed for nearly the entire game, exerting annoying pressure and holding Nakamura's king and rook at bay. The eventual extracation of white's h1 rook was an achievement, which ultimately allowed Nakamura to get active and make a draw.


Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf

There have been some technical difficulties with the heart monitors, so it's not clear just how closely they should be trusted, but the concept is certainly paying off and gives another data point to follow for insight into the ebb and flow of each game. The most obvious factor (if one assumes they are more or less working properly) is that Nakamura's heart rate has been consistantly and considerably higher than Carlsen's. In game four it was hovering around 130 beats per minute for much of the time, which is actually in the lower end of a range that would be expected during "vigorous exercise" by a thirty year old.

Game 4

1.d4 c5 2.dxc5 Qxc5 3.f3 Qc7 4.Qd2 f5 5.c4 Bxc4 6.Bxf5 Nd6 7.Bc2 Nc6 8.Rc1 Bf7 9.Bb3 O-O


Play out the moves on the live diagram!

10.Bxf7+ Nxf7 11.e4 e6 12.Ne3 a6 13.Bf2 Nfe5 14.Nd3 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 b5 16.Qd2 Qb7 17.O-O


Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf


A very definite blow for the Chess960 world champion | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Daniel King analyses Game 3 and 4

Carlsen leads 5 : 3

The game four win represents a two points swing using the scoring system in place which values the rapid games double the eight blitz games that will be played on Tuesday.

Still two more days of rapid chess to go, however, and games five and six will see the third fresh starting position, chosen at random, shortly before the 17:00 CET (11:00 am) start time.


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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