Chessable Masters Final: Carlsen wins close first set

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/4/2020 – A thrilling first set of the Chessable Masters Final saw Magnus Carlsen clinching a crucial win by defeating Anish Giri in the second blitz game of tiebreaks. Giri played enterprising chess throughout, getting what at some point seemed to be an unlikely win in game 4 to tie the score and take the set to 5-minute games and a potential Armageddon. The Dutchman now needs to win on demand on Saturday to keep his chances alive. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Three and a half good games


World Champion Magnus Carlsen and eleven more of the world's best chess players are competing in the Chessable Masters by chess24, the third event in the $1 million Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, taking place from June 20 to July 5.


After securing a crucial win, Magnus Carlsen confessed that he was fully satisfied with his performance in the initial three and a half games of the final’s first set. He referred to the fact that, while ahead on the scoreboard and needing only a draw with white in the fourth rapid game of the day, he unnecessarily allowed Anish Giri to create complications and eventually win the game. This victory levelled the score and took the mini-match to tiebreaks.

In the first blitz game of tiebreaks, Giri missed a huge chance to take the lead in a rook ending. Carlsen played white in the second 5-minute encounter and, despite losing connection for almost two minutes, ended up scoring a deciding win. Talking about the disconnection, the world champion noted:

To be fair, I think it affected Anish more. On the one hand, it’s very unpleasant to lose two minutes because you don’t have internet, but just sitting there waiting, not knowing what’s happening, is also not pleasant at all. 

It was not an easy win by any means. Or as Carlsen put it:

Happy to win of course, but that was insane.

Giri will need to win Saturday’s second set to keep his chances alive, which is not hard to picture happening as his increasingly confident, unconstrained style of play has resulted in a noteworthy improvement. 

Chessable Masters

Carlsen 3½ : 2½ Giri

First set Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Blitz 1 Blitz 2 
Magnus Carlsen ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1
Anish Giri ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0

Despite playing black, it was Carlsen who missed chances to win the first game of the final. Giri took this chance to get even for a previous tweet by the world champion, sharing the following message before game 2 began:

Our champion Magnus Carlsen snatching a draw from the jaws of victory.

Carlsen did not let his colleague escape in game 2 though:

 

Both players agreed that this was a very difficult endgame to hold with the black pieces, with Giri confessing that he had missed White’s plan to relocate his knight via b1-d2 from this position. Carlsen showed great technique to get a 62-move win.

The world champion held a comfortable draw with black in game 3, and seemed en route to secure a clean first-set win in game 4:

 

Carlsen thought that the forcing 21.cxb4 led to a draw, but instead the capture gave Black a chance to create havoc around the king. White resigned five moves later.

Perhaps Giri’s biggest regret of the day was his missed chance in the first blitz tiebreaker:

 

The Dutch grandmaster had confidently entered this endgame a pawn up, but apparently was overly relaxed by this point, as he unnecessarily gave Carlsen extra defensive resources by playing 61.Rb5 instead of 61.Ra4, a move the commentators had found quickly enough. After the text, Black had 61...Ra7, capturing the a-pawn in the next move, while if the rook had gone to a4 White would have gained time to centralize his king. It was not meant to be for Giri, who had black in the next game.

Much like in the first set of the semis, a disconnection disrupted the normal flow of the game, as Carlsen ‘spent’ almost two minutes (in a 5-minute game) to play 5.bxc3, the only move in the position. The incident apparently had a bigger impact on Giri, who started going astray as early as move 9 and lost the game in a mostly one-sided affair.

 

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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.