Magnus Carlsen Invitational: Giri and Nepomniachtchi pull ahead

by André Schulz
3/19/2021 – Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So are favourites in their semifinal clashes against Ian Nepomniachtchi and Anish Giri at the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. But they are both behind after the first set. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

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Carlsen cannot beat Nepo

In his semifinal match against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Magnus Carlsen could have taken the lead right from the start, but a long first game ended in a draw to the World Champion’s disappointment. Karsten Müller took a look at the complex endgame.


Since the second game didn’t yield more than half a point either, the Norwegian lost patience in the third encounter. Here Ian Nepomniachtchi had temporarily taken the initiative with a piece sacrifice. Objectively, the game was balanced after the piece was won back, but then Carlsen tried to force his way to a full point with an exchange sacrifice. But it did not work.


26.Bc3 [26.Qf3!?=]

26...Nf4! 27.gxf4 Rg4 28.h3 [28.Nf3? Reg8–+]

28...Rxh4 29.Bxb7 Kxb7 30.Qf3+ Ka6


31.d5? [Carlsen overshoots. 31.Kh2=]

31...Nxd5 32.Rxe6 Rxe6 33.Qxd5 Rg6+ 34.Kf1 [34.Kh2 Qb5 35.Qf3 Qb7 with a win after the forced exchange of queens.]

34...Qb5 35.Rd1 Qxd5 36.Rxd5 Rxf4 [White is lost here.]


37.Bd4 Rf3 38.Be3 f4 39.Rf5 Re6 40.Bd4 Re4 41.Kg2 Rd3 42.Bc3 d5 43.Rf6+ Kb5 44.Rf7 d4 45.Bb4 Re2 0–1

The fourth game also ended in a draw, so Nepomniachtchi goes into the second day of the semis only needing a draw to reach the final.


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Giri bounces back

In the semifinal between Anish Giri and Wesley So, it initially looked as if the American grandmaster might continue his winning streak from the earlier tournaments in the series, as he won the first game. However, Anish Giri hit back in the third game after a draw in game 2.


31.Re4 Qd5? [31...f5 32.Re1 Qd5 was playable. But White is more active.]

32.exf6+ Kxf6 33.Re5 Qd7 34.Rg5 [An immediate 34.Nh4 was even stronger.]

34...Qd6 35.Rf2 Kg7 36.Nh4 Re6


37.Nf5+ [Winning the exchange.]

37...Rxf5 38.Rfxf5 Qxd4 39.Rg4 Qd6 40.Rf2 Re3 41.Re2 Rd3 42.Qf2 c5 43.Rg5 c4 44.Rge5 Nxg3 45.Re7+ Kh6 46.Qf8+ Kg5 47.Rg2 


42... Re3?

[47...Kh4 was a slightly better attempt: 48.Rh7+ (48.Qh8+? Nh5+ 49.Qe5 (49.Kh1? Rxh3+ 50.Kg1 Qd1+ 51.Kf2 Rf3#) 49...Rxh3+ 50.Kg1 Qd1+ 51.Qe1+ with equal chances.) 48...Nh5+ 49.Qxd6 Rxh3+ 50.Kg1 cxd6 51.Rxg6 The black pawns are weak and difficult to hold.]

48.Rf7 Qd1 49.Rf1 Qd3 50.Rf4 [The mate threat of h4 and Qh8 decides.] 1–0

The Dutchman also won game 4 for a 2½:1½ overall victory.


27.Bg4 Rf8 28.Bf5 Rf6 29.Qe2 Qf7 30.Qg4? [With 30.Rg5 h6 31.Rh5 Rf8 32.g4 the white position is still holdable.]  30...Rf8 [Black is too strong along the f-file.]

31.Rf2 Kh8 [Of course not 31...Rxf5 32.Rxf5 Qxf5 33.Qxg7#]

32.Be6 Qe7 33.Bf5 Bh6 34.Rh3 Qe5 35.Rf1 Rxf5 36.Rxf5 Rxf5 [36...Rxf5 37.Rxh6 Qa1+]



Click to enlarge


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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