Carlsen beats Giri, clinches Chessable Masters

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/5/2020 – Magnus Carlsen won the Chessable Masters online tournament by scoring a straight-set victory in the final against Anish Giri. In Saturday’s second set of the deciding match, Carlsen got an impressive win in the first game, while Giri missed chances to tie the score in games 2, 3 and 4. This was the third event of the Magnus Carlsen Tour — and the second one that sees the world champion taking first place! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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“I was lucky to escape”


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.


A rather strange second set was seen at the Chessable Masters Final. Right out of the gate and using a strong pawn sacrifice in the opening, Magnus Carlsen achieved a win that according to Yasser Seirawan could easily make it into a best game collection. After such a remarkable victory, it seemed like the world champion was ready to swiftly defeat Anish Giri in the second set, but his eventual triumph was everything but swift — Giri missed clear chances to tie the score in all three remaining games, especially the two times he had the white pieces.

Carlsen described what had happened: 

Frankly he just played better than I did in the last three games. I was lucky to escape, and it was certainly a performance to forget.

There were many reasons for Giri to be disappointed, but he nevertheless seemed to be in his usual high spirits during the post-mortem interview:

In these knockout tournaments, everybody apart from the winner is a loser, and the one who lost the final is the biggest loser of them all (smiles). [...] But of course I’m very fortunate to have gotten so far actually — I mean, I won my qualifying group and then I beat two very strong rapid players, Alexander [Grischuk] and Ian [Nepomniachtchi].

The fact that things could have easily gone differently in the second set of the final does not take away from the merit of Carlsen’s tournament win, as he finished first in Group A of the preliminaries and obtained straight-set victories in all three phases of the knockout! Furthermore, as Tarjei J. Svensen noted, the world champion has won 4 out of the 5 online tournaments he has played during this time of crisis:

Carlsen defeated Hikaru Nakamura in the final of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational; lost to Nakamura in the semis of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge; won the double round-robin in the open section of the Steinitz Memorial; and defeated Fabiano Caruana in the Clutch Chess International. A remarkable run, indeed!

Referring to his performance during the Chessable Masters as a whole, the world champion concluded:

My overall feeling, even if today was pretty bad, is that it was an excellent tournament. And for Anish, I can only agree that he’s played very well in this tournament — he’s impressed me a lot.

The fourth event of the Magnus Carlsen Tour, dubbed “Legends of Chess”, kicks off a little over two weeks from now, on July 21st.

Chessable Masters 2020

Carlsen 2½ : 1½ Giri

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

It was all praise for Carlsen in game 1. He uncorked the kind of novelty that will be used as a model example of how to play this position in the future:

 

17.d5, giving up a pawn, was the first move of a beautiful sequence that would eventually leave White with a strong attacking configuration on the kingside — 17...exd5 18.e5 Ne4 19.Qe1 Qc7 20.Nd4 a6 21.h4. Carlsen had blitzed out all his moves up to this point, while Giri was struggling to find the right continuations. The Dutchman played the imprecise 21...Rcd8 and went on to lose the game in 34 moves. Definitely a game worth to be looked at in detail!

While Carlsen’s novelty came on move 17 of game 1, Giri could have all but secured a win as early as move 14 in game 2!

 

Black’s 14...Be6 was a major blunder, as it allowed 15.Qh6, pretty much winning the game on the spot — the best Black has is 15...Qf6 16.Ng5 Qg7 17.Qxg7+ Kxg7 18.Bxe6 h6 19.Nxf7 with a vastly superior position for White. Giri did not find this shot and played 15.Bxe6 instead. The game was drawn after 44 moves.

Carlsen used a safety-first approach in the next two games, and both times he was in real danger of losing, especially in game 4:

 

White (Giri) has pretty much all the trumps in the position: more space, the stronger minor piece (with the knight ready to jump to f6), a better pawn structure and a safer king. At this point, Giri thought he had the win under his belt and blundered with 35.Qxf5, allowing 35...Qe2, forking rook and knight — the natural 35.Nf6 was the way to go.

Despite losing the piece, White had a perpetual check at his disposal. But the draw was all Carlsen needed to win the match, and the tournament.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

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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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