Chessable Masters: Dubov barely knocked out

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/23/2020 – In Group A of the Chessable Masters preliminary round-robin, Daniil Dubov was sharing the lead after 8 (out of 10) rounds, but back-to-back losses against Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura left him out of the competition. Pentala Harikrishna was also eliminated, as Vladislav Artemiev, Carlsen, Nakamura and Alexander Grischuk moved on to the quarterfinals. | Photo: Abu Dhabi Masters Tournament

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Falling at the last hurdle

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.

Going by ratings and frequency of participation in top events, Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk and Daniil Dubov were the favourites to advance to the quarterfinals from Group A of the Chessable Masters preliminaries. However, with Vladislav Artemiev showing consistently strong chess since the start, one of them had to leave. Carlsen was the top scorer on day two, so Nakamura, Grischuk and Dubov were the ones fighting for the last spot, and it was Dubov who ended up eliminated from the competition.

Dubov, who came from winning the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge, caught Artemiev in the lead by beating him in round 7 and was still sharing first place before the penultimate round. From that point on, all went wrong for the Russian — he lost to Carlsen and Nakamura, while Grischuk scored in a must-win situation to take him out on tiebreak criteria.

Carlsen’s strong performance on Monday got him first place in the group, while Artemiev came second. The last five rounds of Group B, to be played on Tuesday, will decide the remaining four spots in the quarterfinals.


Chessable Masters 2020

Carlsen beats Nakamura

World numbers one and two in the blitz official ratings list, Nakamura and Carlsen, have been showing their strength as quick-play specialists during this period of online chess events. The fan favourites were paired up against each other in the first round of the day, with Carlsen getting the white pieces. The world champion was in the driver’s seat out of the opening:


As usual, tactics favour the player holding the positional trumps, thus 16.Ndc6, when Black cannot play 16...bxc6 due to 17.Nxc6 Bf6 18.Bxd6. Nakamura found nothing better than 16...Qh4 and White gained an exchange in a forcing sequence — 17.Bg3 Qg5 18.h4 Qf6 19.Ng4 Qxb2 20.Bxd6 bxc6 21.Rc2 Qb5 22.Bxf8. Carlsen was in good shape tactically and quickly converted his advantage.


Dubov defeats Artemiev in style

These two strong Russian players have contrasting styles, with Artemiev preferring technical fights while Dubov tends to go for complex, tactical battles. The latter had the white pieces in their direct encounter of round 7, and did not hesitate to attack his slightly younger opponent:


Dubov gave up a pawn in order to open up lines for his pieces, and continued with 15.e5 Nh7 16.Rg3 (note that his pawn is already on h4). Artemiev defended stubbornly, but the tactical nature of the position seemed to better fit Dubov’s style, who ended up getting the win in 34 moves. With this victory, he joined his compatriot in the lead.


Grischuk and Nakamura win on demand

Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Dubov in the last two rounds. First, he could not help himself in entering a double-edged struggle against Carlsen. The world champion came from showcasing his usual in-control style throughout the day, and won the game by pinning his opponent’s pieces which were stuck on the first and second ranks:


Black’s 25...h6 demonstrated just how paralyzed White’s pieces are. Dubov resigned.

So Dubov was a half point behind co-leaders Artemiev and Carlsen going into the last round, with Nakamura and Grischuk a full point behind. Dubov had black against Nakamura and Grischuk played white against Harikrishna. The one scenario in which he would be knocked out became a reality, as Grischuk defeated Harikrishna and Nakamura beat him in a game that had a spectacular finish:


White is two pieces up, but has to deal with the pin along the dark-squared diagonal and the f-file. The most elegant solution? 27.Qe5+ — Black resigned. A heartbreaking end of the tournament for the ever-combative Russian.


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Final standings - Group A

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Carlsen Magnus 6,0 1,0
2 Artemiev Vladislav 6,0 1,0
3 Nakamura Hikaru 5,0 2,5
4 Grischuk Alexander 5,0 2,0
5 Dubov Daniil 5,0 1,5
6 Harikrishna Pentala 3,0 0,0

All games - Group A



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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