Magnus Carlsen Invitational: First set drawn in the finals

by Klaus Besenthal
3/21/2021 – In the first set of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational finals on Saturday all the games played between Anish Giri and Ian Nepomniachtchi ended in draws. In the first game, Giri missed a chance to win, while the remaining three games were evenly matched. In the match for third place, Wesley So had no chance against Magnus Carlsen: the World Champion won the first set 3:1. | Photo: FIDE

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All square 

Giri could have won the first game of the day. Endgame specialist Karsten Müller analysed the game and demonstrated that sometimes the king is safer in the middle of the board instead of behind the pawns that once protected it.


After this exciting start, game 2 was completely balanced. In the end Nepo was a pawn up, but that was not enough to win. The slight advantages Giri had in the third game were certainly not promising. In the end, it was a draw by repetition.

Finally, in the fourth game of the day, Giri had an extra pawn at times in the endgame, but the position was not such that he could have made anything of it. The logical consequence was another draw.

Giri joined the ChessBase India webcast after the 4-game match and shared his thoughts on the decisions he made and the variations he analysed. Don’t miss this instructive session that gives you a peek into the mind of how a world-class player thinks!


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Carlsen beats So

In the very first game, Wesley So came under heavy fire in a way that was completely uncharacteristic for him:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.a4


This funny-looking move was already played once by Carlsen in 2012. In the end, the question is whether the move will later be useful, superfluous or even harmful.

4...Bb4 5.Bd3 d6 6.0-0 0-0 7.Nd5 Bc5 8.c3 


Now b4 is a threat, so Black must also move his a-pawn.

8...a5 9.Bc2 Nxd5 10.exd5 Ne7 11.Ng5 h6 12.d4 Bb6 13.Nh7 Re8 


14.Nf6+ [The incorruptible engines think 14.Bxh6 is better here.]

14...gxf6 15.Qh5 But the world champion’s approach is also strong.

15...e4 16.Re1 


16...f5? The losing move: Black loses control of g5. [Better was 16...c5!]

17.Bxh6 Nxd5 18.Bg5 f6 19.Bb3 c6 20.Re3 Kf8 21.Qg6 f4 22.Bh6+ Ke7 23.Qh7+


White will mate with Rxe4 in the next move. 1-0

The next game was more typical for encounters between these two players: the balance was not seriously disturbed at any point, pieces were gradually exchanged, and a bishop endgame finally ended in a draw.

Game 3 proceeded similarly to game 2, except that this time the two bishops remaining on the board at the end were on squares of the same colour. The result was another draw.

In the fourth game, Wesley So made it very easy for the World Champion:


16.Rd1?! [This was the right time to take the black knight off the board. 16.Nxf6+! Bxf6 17.Ne4=]

16...Nd5 Now the black pieces seem well coordinated and nicely centralized, while the grouping of the white pieces doesn’t seem to work all that well. Black is undoubtedly exerting pressure in a subtle way.


17.d4?! This move does nothing positive. [17.Bb3 was not wrong here.]

17...Bg6! [The immediate 17...exd4?! would have been responded by 18.Nc5.]

18.dxe5 Nxe5 


The knight duo is rather unstable.

19.Qg3 Nc4 20.h4? White loses a tempo. [After 20.Nf3! White’s position would have remained defensible.]


20...Qc6! The queen cannot be expelled from this strong square because White has failed to place his knight on f3 in time.



A final mistake, after which Carlsen can simply calculate a concrete way to score the win.

21...Nxb4 22.Rxd8 Nxc2 23.Rxf8+ Bxf8


Now not only the a1-rook hangs, but also the e4-knight.

24.Rb1 Bxe4 25.Nxe4 Qxe4


White has a material disadvantage and is in a bad position. Playing on was pointless — especially against Carlsen! 0-1


Magnus Carlsen Invitational 2021

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Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.


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