Superbet Poland: Rusty Carlsen plays Polish Defence, loses

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/22/2023 – Magnus Carlsen played his first three over-the-board (rapid) games after giving up the world champion title on Sunday. In his first outing as a ‘former world champion’, Carlsen replied to Radoslaw Wojtaszek’s 1.d4 with 1...b5, going for the questionable Polish Defence — in Warsaw! Carlsen lost that game and drew the next two to end the day with a 2/6 score. Three points ahead stand co-leaders Wesley So, Levon Aronian and Jan-Krzysztof Duda. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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So, Duda and Aronian share the lead

Find expert commentary — video and game annotations — by well-known coach and author IM Robert Ris at the end of the article.

Wesley So, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Levon Aronian all scored two wins and a draw to end the first day of action at the Superbet Rapid & Blitz tournament sharing the lead on 5/6 points (a win is worth 2 points in the rapid section). So and Duda faced — and drew — world number one Magnus Carlsen. The Norwegian is playing his first over-the-board tournament after giving up his title as world champion in classical chess.

Despite not being the classical champion any more, Carlsen continues to hold the world title in rapid and blitz. In fact, he still has a whopping 59-point advantage over Ian Nepomniachtchi in the official (classical) ratings list published by FIDE.

Further cementing Carlsen’s status as the best-known international chess star, PUMA recently launched a personalized sneaker model together with the Norwegian.

At the Superbet Poland event, the now former world champion made sure to leave his mark right off the bat. Playing black against Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Carlsen replied to 1.d4 with 1...b5 — the Polish Defence! His experienced opponent was surely as shocked as the spectators, but he had no trouble refuting the audacious — rather reckless — proposition.

The final position shows how fun it must have been for Wojtaszek to harass his famed opponent’s king stuck in the centre of the board.

Black resigned. The Polish Defence could not prevent the accomplished Polish grandmaster from defeating one of the strongest players in history. 

After drawing his remaining two games, against So and Duda respectively, Carlsen confessed

I haven’t really played or studied chess much recently. [...] But at least I steadied the ship a little bit in the last couple of rounds. So it’s not a disater, but overall it was just really rusty.

Coincidentally, the two players who drew Carlsen in rounds 2 and 3 finished the day sharing the lead with plus-two scores. So and Duda are joined by Aronian atop the standings. The latter is replacing world champion Ding Liren in Warsaw, as the Chinese grandmaster decided to withdraw due to the fatigue induced by the gruelling match in Astana and the subsequent elite tournament he played in Bucharest.

Superbet Chess Poland 2023

Chess fever in Poland! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Wojtaszek 1 - 0 Carlsen

Wesley So

Co-leader Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Expert analysis by IM Robert Ris

Standings - Round 3 (win = 2 pts; draw = 1 pt)

All games - Rapid


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.