Chessable Masters: Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi score convincing wins

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/26/2020 – Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi needed no more than three games to defeat Fabiano Caruana and Vladislav Artemiev in the first mini-matches of the Chessable Masters quarterfinals. Carlsen was ruthless against Caruana’s haphazard play in games 1 and 2, while Nepomniachtchi defeated Artemiev twice with the white pieces and showed good technique to hold a draw with black. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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A short day at the office


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.


It did not take long for Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi to secure victories in the first sets of their quarterfinal matches. While Carlsen achieved clean wins in the first two games against Fabiano Caruana, Nepomniachtchi did not have it as easy against Vladislav Artemiev.

The matches are played to the best of three, so Caruana and Artemiev will get a chance to level the score in the second sets, to take place on Saturday.

Few people expected for Carlsen to get such a smooth win over Caruana after their gruelling match from the Clutch Chess International. The world champion himself does not feel his play during this period of online tournaments has been as consistent as his results show. He told commentator Anna Rudolf: 

I feel that I haven’t been consistent at all, to be honest. I’ve lost it feels like about a million games. I would say that my top level has been great, but the floor has been pretty low as well.  

The same level of unflinching self-criticism was shown by the other winner of the day, as Nepomniachtchi noted: “The stressful part was the level of my play”. Although his victory over Artemiev was not as clean as Carlsen’s, he played well at most critical moments — and also got a little lucky, as Artemiev lost by disconnection in game 1, shortly after having survived a strong attack by his more-experienced opponent.

Ding vs Nakamura and Grischuk vs Giri, the remaining two matchups of the quarterfinals, kick off Friday. 

Chessable Masters 2020

Carlsen 2½:½ Caruana

Mini-match #1 Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Magnus Carlsen 1 1 ½
Fabiano Caruana 0 0 ½

Playing white in game 1, Carlsen obtained what Yasser Seirawan called ‘a smooth Carlsbad’. All the positional trumps favoured the world champion, and he did not falter in conversion:

 

White’s king is perfectly safe while Black has been struggling to defend his backward pawn on c6, and after 33.Ne5 it is clear that White has what it takes to break through. The game continued 33...Rb8 34.Qa7 Nxe5 35.dxe5 Qd8 36.Be2 Kh8 37.Bg4:

 

Something had to give. Black lost a pawn after 37...Ng6 38.f4 Ra8 39.Qc5 Qe8 40.Qxc6 Qxc6 41.Rxc6 and Carlsen had no trouble getting the full point in the ensuing endgame.

Caruana did not get much out of the opening in game 2, when he had the white pieces. Carlsen confessed his 12th move was in fact a ‘mouse slip’:

 

The logical 12...Bb4 had been played in all previous games that had reached this position and most likely was the move Carlsen had planned to play. Instead, he went 12...Nxb5 by mistake, but luckily for him his position was still very much playable afterwards. In fact, he went on to score a second full point in a row after converting a superior opposite-coloured bishop endgame. The world champion said afterwards:

To win after making a mouse slip, that’s not something that happens every day.

A draw in game 3 was enough for Carlsen to secure the mini-match win.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Nepomniachtchi 2½:½ Artemiev

Mini-match #1 Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Ian Nepomniachtchi 1 ½ 1
Vladislav Artemiev 0 ½ 0

‘Nepo’ built up a strong initiative in game 1, when Artemiev, playing black, left his king almost completely undefended:

 

In the post-mortem interview, Nepomniachtchi remembered how Kasparov recommended for players to see how far the opponent’s pieces are from their king in order to decide when to attack. Thus, with the black queen on a8, one of the rooks on the queenside and a couple of clumsy knights, 37.Nhf5+ is the way to go. The game continued 37...gxf5 38.Nxf5+ Kg8 39.Qg3 Qxe4 40.Qxg5+ Kf7:

 

Nepomniachtchi had correctly chosen to go for the attack, but at this point was not able to complete the job. 41.Qg7+ was winning — perhaps ‘Nepo’ did not see that after 41...Ke6 42.Qh6+ Kxf5, White has the strong 43.f3 and Black is lost. He played 41.Rd3 instead, which can be responded by 41...Ra1 42.Rxa1 Qxd3 43.Ra3 Qxa3 and White started checking the black king incessantly.

But when the game seemed to be heading towards a draw, Artemiev disconnected and, as the rules stipulate, lost the game. An unfortunate incident for the young Russian.

In game 2, Artemiev was a pawn up in a rook endgame, but saw his opponent demonstrating he knows how to draw with a ‘mad rook’:

 

Black played 47...Re4+ and White cannot ever capture the rook without allowing a draw by stalemate, with the king and pawn completely immobile on the h-file.

‘Nepo’ won game 3 after his opponent blundered on move 25, thus ending the four-game mini-match.

 

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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