Yet another triumph: Carlsen wins Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/25/2023 – An imposing 7/9 performance on Thursday allowed Magnus Carlsen to clinch first place at the Superbet Rapid & Blitz tournament in Warsaw. Rapid-section winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda put up a great fight, as he went into the final-round confrontation against Carlsen with chances of catching his famed colleague in the standings. A hard-fought 124-move draw sealed Carlsen’s victory. Duda came second, while Wesley So and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave shared third place. | Photos: Lennart Ootes

Chess News

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Down to the wire

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

Despite achieving an incredible +10 score in the blitz section of the Superbet Poland event in Warsaw, Magnus Carlsen only secured tournament victory after defending an ending with rook against bishop and two pawns until move 124 in the very last round of the competition!

Jan-Krzysztof Duda entered the fifth day of action with a half-point lead over Carlsen, but saw his famed opponent winning 5 out of his 6 first games to get a 2-point lead in the standings.

Duda did not give up, though, as he grabbed consecutive wins in rounds 15-17 to enter his deciding confrontation against Carlsen with a chance to force a tiebreaker for first place — at that point, he was a full point behind, which meant he needed to win with black to get a shot at a second consecutive title in the Warsaw event.

Playing black in a must-win situation, Duda decided to play an offbeat Sicilian with 2...b6. Carlsen got a strategic edge in the early middlegame, but a remarkable showing under pressure allowed Duda to restore the balance. By move 39, Carlsen had an extra exchange against Duda’s two extra pawns. The Polish star tried to make the most of his connected passers, but Carlsen kept finding precise defensive manoeuvres with his rook and king.

The game ended up lasting 124 moves, with the players exclusively using the 2-second increments to make tough decision after tough decision. Carlsen held the draw and thus secured tournament victory with an impressive 24/36 score despite having finished the rapid section 3 points behind then-leader Duda.

A visibly contented Carlsen told Cristian Chirila after winning the event:

At the start I was playing with more flow: it was easier. And then, with three rounds to go, I was not feeling as energetic anymore. I was already starting to think about the last game — I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to get a result in that game. But to Duda’s credit, he kept going. [...] He played extremely well, and I really had to fight so hard.

This is Carlsen’s biggest over-the-board success since his double triumph at the World Rapid & Blitz Championships in December 2022. He also won the strong Airthings Masters (online) in February this year.

The dramatic final game (full webcast)

So in shared third place, leads GCT standings

Given Carlsen’s astounding 7-game winning streak in rounds 5-11 (he also won three consecutive games in rounds 13-15), a couple of hours into the fifth day of action major focus was put on the fight for second place. After round 14, Duda was in fact sharing the second spot in the standings with Wesley So and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, each with 19½ points.

Round 15 was a big turning point, though, as Duda beat So and Vachier-Lagrave was defeated by Kirill Shevchenko. Duda went on to almost catch up with Carlsen, while So and MVL continued their toe-to-toe scrap for third place.

So entered the final round with a half-point advantage over MVL after beating Shevchenko in round 17. The Frenchman had black against Radoslaw Wojtaszek, and obtained the full point he needed to catch So in the final standings.

Wojtaszek’s 39.Qg4, allowing Black to trade queens, was not a good decision at this juncture — perhaps fatigue prompted the Polish GM to look for simplifications. MVL gladly captured on g4 and went on to convert his advantage into a win in the ensuing queenless position.

So’s draw with Bogdan-Daniel Deac meant he and MVL finished tied for third. This performance plus his shared second place at the Superbet Classic in Bucharest left So at the top of the Grand Chess Tour overall standings with 15.25 points to his name. Duda is currently in second place with 14.5 points.

Wesley So

Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Expert analysis by IM Robert Ris

Final standings

Superbet Chess Poland 2023

All games - Blitz


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.