Classic: Carlsen and Keymer make it to the winners’ bracket final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/12/2024 – Magnus Carlsen and Vincent Keymer advanced to the Divsion I final match in the winners’ bracket of the Classic after obtaining convincing victories over Denis Lazavik and Jan-Krzysztof Duda respectively. In the lower bracket, elite GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alireza Firouzja grabbed victories to remain in contention in the double-elimination knockout tournament. | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

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Endgame time

All four encounters in the match between Magnus Carlsen and Denis Lazavik reached endgame positions. Carlsen showcased his technical prowess to win game 1, and drew the three remaining confrontations to get match victory. Only in game 4 did Lazavik get winning chances in the endgame, but a single misstep allowed Carlsen to restore the balance.

Playing white in game 1, Carlsen made the most of his extra pawn in an ending with four rooks still on the board.

Engines here show that doubling on the d-file with 52...Red2 gives Black the best chances to defend the position. On the other hand, after 52...Ra2, as played in the game, White can begin to make progress via g4-Kg3-f3, etcetera. Still, very precise play was needed for Carlsen to eventually get the 70-move victory that gained him the lead on the scoreboard.

In game 4, it was Lazavik who had an edge in a rook endgame.

The youngster found the correct idea with 53.e5, but after Carlsen erred with 53...Rxf5 (better is 53...Rb6), he failed to find 54.Kd6 Rf2 55.Ra8+ Kf7 56.e6+, and White is still winning.

After Lazavik’s 54.Ke6, Carlsen showed the correct defensive plan — 54...g6 55.Kd6 (one move too late) Rf1 56.e6 Rd1+ 57.Ke5, and Black can hold.

Rook endgames are tricky, and Carlsen is one of the biggest experts in the world in this subject area (the absolute best?). A draw was agreed on move 62, granting the Norwegian a spot in the winners’ bracket final.

In the other semifinal, Vincent Keymer obtained a clear 2½-½ victory over Jan-Krzysztof Duda. Duda and Lazavik remain in contention in the double-elimination knockout event, though, as they will face Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alireza Firouzja, respectively, in the next phase of the losers’ bracket.

All games - Division I

Bracket - Division I

Division II: MVL, Aronian, Dubov and Oparin in semis

Beating an elite GM guarantees nothing in these fast-paced online events. On Friday, Dmitrij Kollars, Aram Hakobyan and José Martínez stunned Leinier Dominguez, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So respectively — and all three of them were defeated in their next matches.

Kollars was defeated by Levon Aronian; Hakobyan lost to Daniil Dubov; and Martínez was beaten by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Joining Aronian, Dubov and MVL in the semifinals of the winners’ bracket will be Grigoriy Oparin, who got the better of Andrey Esipenko.

Aronian found an elegant path to victory from an advantageous position in his second encounter against Kollars.

Black is winning, and 33...Qxb3 forces matters — 34.Qg4+ Kf8 35.Rxc1 Qxe3+ followed.

Aronian grabbed the rook on c1 and went on to easily secure what was a second consecutive victory in the match.

All games - Division II

Bracket - Division II

Division III

The four semifinalists in the winners’ bracket of Division III are Dmitry Andreikin, Nils Grandelius, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Tuan Minh Le. In the most interesting matchup of the losers’ bracket, Anish Giri will face bullet specialist Andrew Tang on Sunday.

Replay all the games of the division on

Bracket - Division III


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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