Carlsen adds a new title: Chess960 champion

by Macauley Peterson
2/14/2018 – Magnus Carlsen made up for the minor setback on day four in the eight game blitz portion on Tuesday, winning the match with three games to spare. Nakamura is known as a blitz specialist but he has lost several blitz matches against Carlsen in recent years, and the "weirdness" introduced by Chess960 was not enough to tip the balance in the American's favour.

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Magnus wins 14 : 10

Hikaru Nakamura needed to dominate the blitz games in order to have any hope of recovering from the one game (two points) deficit in the rapid portion of the match. The scoring system reverted to normal, with wins counting for one point, so it was possible, but Nakamura never really got it going, winning only a token game late in the day after the overall match had been decided. The players played all eight scheduled games to ensure that Norwegian TV viewers (not to mention the international online audience) got to see a full show.

Blitz results

G9: Carlsen-Nakamura 1-0
G10: Nakamura-Carlsen ½-½
G11: Nakamura-Carlsen ½-½
G12: Carlsen-Nakamura ½-½
G13: Carlsen-Nakamura 1-0
G14: Nakamura-Carlsen 0-1
G15: Nakamura-Carlsen 1-0
G16: Carlsen-Nakamura ½-½

Carlsne and Nakamura at blitz

Carlsen and Nakamura get set for the blitz | Photo: Lennart Ootes / frchess.com

After Monday's game eight debacle Carlsen made a strong statement in the first blitz game, pouncing on a major tactical oversight by Nakamura.

 

Play through the moves on the live diagram!

1.a4 e6 2.a5 a6 3.e4 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Nf3 f6 The position is equal. 6.exf6 gxf6 7.Ne3 Nxe3 8.fxe3 Bg6 9.b4 Be7 10.Bh4 Rf8 11.Be2 Nc6 12.Qc3 b5 13.O-O O-O-O

 

The critical game of the blitz match was game three, which was both the longest (at 138 moves!) and the most tense of the match. Being three points down at this point (7½ : 10½), Nakamura really needed to win, and he had a great chance. But ultimately, the queen versus rook and pawn ending the players reached was too difficult to convert in a blitz game. Despite Nakamura's best efforts, Carlsen found a theoretically drawn fortress configuration, and eventually claimed a three-fold repetition.

The game will also go down in chess history for its first move, which typifies the sometimes strange character of Chess960.

 

And indeed, both sides castled on move one, seizing the almost-obligatory historic chance!

Starting from move two:

 

Watch the epic 18 minute finale unfold in real-time: 

Carlsen during the tense game 11

Carlsen during the tense game 11 | Photo: Lennart Ootes / frchess.com

You can download all blitz games and replay them in the free ChessBase Reader!

CB readerThe new ChessBase Reader conveniently displays all installed databases and training titles — with a modern menu ribbon look. With the free ChessBase reader, you can open all standard file formats (.cbh, .cbf, .pgn), play through games on a stunningly rendered board, watch ChessBase training videos and much more.


Full blitz commentary

Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf


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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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