Skilling Open: Mouse slips

by André Schulz
11/23/2020 – For Magnus Carlsen, the Skilling Open began with a setback. In a winning position, his queen was placed on the wrong square due to a mouse slip and was captured by his opponent. The world champion had a good first day nonetheless. However, it was Anish Giri who finished as the sole leader after five rounds. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Carlsen and Anton in shared second place

Online chess tournaments have their own special features, including the much unpleasant mouse slips. It happens from time to time, and nobody is immune to it. In online chess, a piece is usually clicked on in the diagram on the screen, held down by pressing the mouse button, moved over to the target square and placed there by reducing the pressure on the button. Most chess players have internalized this process. However, if the pressure on the key is reduced too early on the way to the target square, the piece will fall on the wrong square. Mouse slips happen from time to time, even to players who have played thousands of online games.

The Skilling Open, the first of ten tournaments in the new Champions Chess Tour, kicked off with the world champion himself losing due to a mouse slip. It happened in the first round, in a clearly won position — so it probably upset Carlsen throughout the day. 


White has more space and is a pawn up. But his king is not fully secured.

33.Rd5? [Gives black an important tempo. Better was 33.Qc6]

33...c6! 34.Rd4 [Or 34.Qxc6 Qa7 35.Qa4 Qf2+ and White is doomed.]

34...d5 [34...Qa7 35.Qa4]

35.Qe2 Qa3+ 36.Kc2 Qa2+ [Or even 36...dxe4!? 37.Rb1 e3 winning.]

37.Kd3 Qxb3 38.Qc2 [And in a winning position, Carlsen erred with a mouse slip.]


38...Qb4 [Carslen: "Grrr..."] 1–0

Had he achieved the well-deserved victory, Carlsen would have been at the top of the standings table at the end of the first day of action.

A draw followed against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and then the world champion turned up the heat and defeated Teimour Radjabov. Carlsen and Radjabov had followed a previous game in the Ragozin Variation of the Queen’s Gambit until move 17. A few moves later, the following position arose on the board:


Black is fine, but he is now chasing a chimera.

22.Nb5 Qe5? [Gives away the a7-pawn unnecessarily. 22...Bxb5 23.Qxb5 f5 and Black is slightly better.] 23.Qxe5 fxe5 24.Nxa7 Ne3 [That was the idea, but...]


25.Rd2 [White does not need to accept the sacrifice. 25.fxe3 Rxg3 would of course be great for Black.]

25...Nc4 26.Rd3 Rg4 27.Rb4 Na5 28.RTxb6 1–0

Two more wins by Carslen followed, against the surprisingly strong David Anton and the ever dangerous Alireza Firouzja. However, Carlsen missed a full point with the mouse slip and was overtaken in the standings by Anish Giri.

Alireza Firouzja had defeated Wesley So in the second round in a thrilling game, a kind of Noteboom Variation with colours reversed.


An exciting position in which both sides have their trumps.

26.Rb5 Ra6? [Placing the rook on the side. Better was 26...f5 preparing 27.-- Qc6 28.Rbb1 d4 with a strong attack.]

27.Nb1 [White retreats immediately 27.Rxd5! Qxd5 28.Qxg4 g6 29.Qxe4 with a winning position.]

27...h5 [Better was 27...Qd7 28.Bd4 followed by the move suggested by the machine 28...Nh2! (28...Qxb5 29.Qxg4 g6 30.Qh4 and White wins.) 29.Kxh2 Qxb5 30.Qg4 g6 31.Nc3 Qc6 and the fight goes on.]

28.Bd4 h4 [The opening of the h-file becomes a boomerang — it ends up favouring White.]


29.Rh1 hxg3 30.fxg3 Nh6 31.Nc3 [The d-pawn will fall and, with it, the whole black position.] 31...Qd6 32.Rxd5 Qa3 33.Rxh6 gxh6 34.Qg4+ Kf8 35.Bg7+ 1–0

David Anton was able to beat Svidler, Nepomniachtchi and Radjabov on the first day of action. He was defeated by Carlsen though. 

Even better than Carlsen and Anton was Anish Giri, who finished the day with 4 points. He defeated Vidit Gujarathi in a rook and bishop against rook endgame.


Objectively speaking, the endgame is usually a draw — here too. But it is difficult to achieve, especially in rapid chess.

83.Kd1 [The correct defence was 83.Rf8 Kd3 84.Rf3+ Be3+ 85.Kb1 Ke4 86.Rf8]

83...Kd3 [Threatening mate.]

84.Re8 Rb2 [Threatening mate from the other side.]

85.Rc8 Bb6 [The key move. White is in zugzwang.]

86.Rc6 [Only move.] 

86...Be3 87.Rd6+ Bd4 88.Rc6 Rg2 [Or immediately 88...Rd2+ 89.Kc1 Rf2 90.Kb1 Rb2+ 91.Kc1 Rb5 92.Rd6 Ra5]

89.Re6 Rd2+ 90.Ke1 Rb2 91.Kf1 Rf2+ 92.Ke1 Rf5 93.Rd6 Rg5


Ding Liren, for whom the tournament took place in the middle of the night, once again had to struggle with broken connections. But according to the new rules, the player has some time to reconnect.

Standings after Round 5


All games



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


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