Tallaksen Ostmoe, rated 2466, holds Magnus Carlsen to a draw

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/8/2022 – After gaining 3.1 rating points by scoring a brilliant 9½/13 at the Tata Steel Masters, Carlsen gave up 4.1 rating points by drawing a single game in Norway. Geir Sune Tallaksen Ostmoe, an International Master and chess composer, showcased his endgame abilities to defend an inferior position with the black pieces until getting an outstanding 84-move draw against the world champion. | Screenshot: Sjakkforbundet / Twitch

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That pairing, again

Back in 2019, a disagreement with the Norwegian Chess Federation prompted world champion Magnus Carlsen to create his own chess club, Offerspill. A few months later, the strongest player in the world represented his team in the Second League, getting two one-sided wins over players rated 2365 and 2311.

Now, fresh from an excellent eighth victory in Wijk aan Zee, Carlsen made his way to his home country to play for his team. Rounds 4 to 6 of the Norwegian League were played during the weekend, with Offerspill fielding the world champion on top board in the fifth round. Their rivals were SOSS, which have Geir Sune Tallaksen Ostmoe as their strongest representative.

Once the 2466-rated IM found out whom he would face in round 5, he shared on Twitter:

Note that he mentions that he did not expect to see this pairing again. As reported by Tarjei Svensen, a 9-year-old Carlsen faced the same opponent in 2000. At the time, Tallaksen Ostmoe had a rating of 2200, but was nonetheless held to a draw by his prodigious opponent at the Norwegian Junior Team Championship.

Fast-forward 22 years, and the now lower-rated player managed to hold a draw against the kid who became world champion!

The game

Tallaksen Ostmoe is also a chess composer. In a Twitter thread, he shared his entries to the World Championship in Composing for Individuals 2019-2021. Thus, it is not surprising that he quickly exchanged queens and entered an endgame while facing the strongest player in the world — who, by the way, had the white pieces.


The world champion was already in the driver’s seat, and here went for 21.Nb6. His opponent spent 13 minutes before replying with 21...Nb8, when accepting the temporary sacrifice would have, in fact, eased his defensive task — 21...axb6 22.axb6+ Nxb6 23.Ra7+ Kb8 24.Bxb6 Rxd1 25.Kxd1 Bd8 26.Bc5 Bc7 and Black should hold.


Of course, there are other sidelines that need to be considered, and surely one tends to ‘believe’ the world champion when he goes for a forcing line.

In the game, Carlsen continued pressing, and missed a chance to force matters in his favour after Black erred on move 28.


Here both players missed 29.Bb6, when Black cannot capture the bishop due to the potential check with the rook from a8, skewering, while after 29...Bd8 30.Bxd8 Rxd8 31.Rxg7 a winning rook endgame for White would appear on the board.


The world champion would have doubtlessly converted this into a win, but he missed the initial tactical shot and went for 29.Ra8+ instead. From that point on, Tallaksen Ostmoe managed to keep his cool and showed resourcefulness in defence until finally securing the half point on move 84.

Anish Giri did not take long to share a tweet complementing the International Master’s defensive ability:

After gaining 3.1 rating points by scoring a brilliant 9½/13 at the Tata Steel Masters, Carlsen gave up 4.1 rating points by drawing a single game in Norway. That only goes to show how incredibly high the world champion’s rating actually is!


Master Class Vol.8 - Magnus Carlsen 2nd Edition

Let our authors show you how Carlsen tailored his openings to be able to outplay his opponents strategically in the middlegame or to obtain an enduring advantage into the endgame.


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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