Magnus Carlsen rushes to Generation Cup victory

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/26/2022 – Magnus Carlsen won the final match of the Julius Baer Generation Cup in the lowest possible number of games. The world champion beat Arjun Erigaisi 2½-½ in the first set, and then scored back-to-back wins in the second set to secure tournament victory as quickly as it is allowed by the rules. Despite losing the match, Arjun gained a spot in the final major of the Champions Chess Tour season, set to take place in November in San Francisco.

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Anti-young-player chess

Arjun Erigaisi’s task on Sunday could not have been harder. The 19-year-old Indian star needed to beat Magnus Carlsen in a 4-game match to tie the score in the finals of the Generations Cup. What is more, his opponent came from having what he described as “some of my best rapid results ever”. The world champion obtained a record-breaking score in the preliminaries and did not have much trouble knocking out Levon Aronian and Vincent Keymer in the second stage of the tournament.

Back-to-back wins by Carlsen quickly put an end to the suspense. The perennial favourite told Kaja Snare after the very satisfactory performance that he had employed ‘anti-young-player chess’ to take down his opponent. He elaborated:

I tried to play a little bit older, less-theoretical lines that have some serious strategic complexity, and it worked out pretty well. [...] I’m happy with the opening choices that I made — the strategy I had from a psychological point of view. Now that I’m playing younger and younger players, it makes sense to employ some different tricks.

Arjun did not leave the tournament empty-handed, though, as besides the prize money, he qualified to the final major of the tour. Much like the Oslo Esports Cup and the FTX Crypto Cup, the final event of this year’s online series will be played as an in-person tournament. The major is set to start mid-November in San Francisco, United States.

Arjun Erigaisi

While the chess world has focused on the sportif merits of Carlsen the last few days, the controversy regarding the world champion’s quick resignation against Hans Niemann has not magically disappeared. Kaja Snare touched on the subject while talking to Carlsen. Luckily, the Norwegian did not escape the topic, as he gave the most straightforward answer he has given since he first spoke about the polemic on Wednesday. Carlsen said:

I will say a little bit more. Whether it will be tomorrow or one of the days after is not completely clear. I generally want cheating in chess to be dealt with seriously, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll certainly put out a statement very soon, and that will also not be all you hear from me on the topic.

Notably, the world champion already openly referred to the fact that the controversy has to do with cheating. Evidently, his chess performance has not been affected negatively by the scandal. Perhaps he was extra motivated to show his best chess? This is how Carlsen responded:

I haven’t felt less motivated, let’s put it like that.

Generation Cup 2022

Carlsen started the day with the black pieces, and opted for a rather offbeat variation of the Pirc Defence. He kept his king in the centre, while Arjun castled on the queenside. In order to make the most of his positional trumps, the Indian would have needed to play more aggressively on the kingside — once he failed to do so, it was Carlsen who got a dangerous initiative on the other flank of the board.

 

22...b3 poses a difficult question for White, to which the only acceptable answer was 23.Nc3. Instead, Arjun’s 23.a4 gave way to the straightforward 23...Qxc2+ 24.Qxc2 Nxc2. Black has gained a pawn and still has the safer king.

Consistent with his anti-youth strategy, Carlsen safely went for simplifications while slowly improving his position. On moves 34-35 he further increased his material advantage.

 

34...Nxb2 35.Nxa5 N2xa4, and there is very little White can do to prevent Black from continuing to make progress. Arjun kept playing until move 48, when he resigned with mate-in-two on the board.

 

48...Nd3+ and resigns — 49.Kb1 Nc3+ 50.Ka1 Rg1# is coming.

In the second game, Arjun bravely tried to create imbalances out of a King’s Indian Defence. An in-form Carlsen soundly punished his rival’s positional concessions to quickly put an end to the match.

 

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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.