Superbet Poland: Carlsen and Wei share the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/10/2024 – Magnus Carlsen and Wei Yi emerged as co-leaders after the second day of action at the Superbet Rapid & Blitz tournament in Poland. Carlsen grabbed two wins and then failed to make the most of clear winning chances against D Gukesh, while Wei obtained three wins in a row to recover from his somewhat underwhelming performance on Wednesday. Former leader Kirill Shevchenko and R Praggnanandhaa stand a full point behind the leaders (wins are worth 2 points in the rapid section of the event). | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

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Wei wins three in a row

The first three rounds of the Superbet Rapid & Blitz tournament saw Wei Yi drawing twice and losing to Magnus Carlsen to go into the second day of action in shared seventh place. The Chinese grandmaster, who stunningly won the Tata Steel Masters in January, bounced back in style, scoring three wins in as many games on Thursday to climb to shared first place.

Tied for first with Wei is Carlsen, who drew former leader Kirill Shevchenko, defeated Nodirbek Abdusattorov and then missed winning chances before signing a draw with D Gukesh. The world number one is the only player who remains undefeated in Warsaw. In the final three rounds of the rapid, Carlsen will face R Praggnanandhaa, Vincent Keymer and Anish Giri.

Standing at a 1-point distance from the leaders (wins grant 2 points in the rapid) are Shevchenko and Pragg. Shevchenko came from scoring a perfect 6/6 on opening day, but after holding Carlsen to a draw, suffered back-to-back losses against Arjun Erigaisi and Wei. Pragg, on his part, lost to Gukesh before beating Giri and Keymer — both with the white pieces — in rounds 5 and 6.

World Championship challenger Gukesh also recovered from a rather lacklustre first three rounds, as he started the second day of play with two consecutive wins before escaping with a draw against Carlsen.

Dommaraju Gukesh, Magnus Carlsen

D Gukesh and Magnus Carlsen played a hard-fought game that ended in a 39-move draw | Photo: Lennart Ootes

A curious final position, a trapped queen

Rapid chess (the time control is a fairly generous 25’+10”) allows elite players to show their deep theoretical knowledge, while at times setting up the conditions for the same expert practitioners to blunder or make costly strategic mistakes.

In round 5, for example, what at first sight looked like a premature resignation turned out to be perfectly justified. Jan-Krzysztof Duda, playing black, threw in the towel against Wei Yi in a position with all pieces (and four pawns per side) still on the board. And there was no decisive attack or major material loss in sight!

Black has clearly overplayed his hand — and has run out of moves in this early-middlegame position. Duda resigned, since there are no useful moves available for Black. E.g.:

  • 28...Nf4 29.Bxe4 Qxe4 30.Rg5+ Kh8 31.Bxf4 Qxf4 32.Rb1
  • 28...Bxd5 29.Rxd5, and White is threatening both to capture on d6 and to gain an exchange with the Nf5+ fork
  • 28...Bxc2 29.Nxc2 Rb8 30.Re1, calmly improving pieces and gaining even more control over the position

Wei Yi

Wei Yi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Also on a rather crowded board, but after 57 moves of play, Pragg managed to trap Keymer’s queen while marshalling the white pieces in round 6.

Backward knight moves are tricky. Black cannot escape with 58...Qf4 due to 59.Rf3. It should be noted that both contenders were in time trouble by this point of the game.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Expert analysis by IM Robert Ris

Carlsen could have ended the day as the sole leader, but failed to convert his advantage while playing black against Gukesh. The critical point was reached in a position with queen, rook and knight against queen and two bishops — and it was Carlsen who was an exchange down!

IM Robert Ris analyses the game in detail.

Standings after round 6 (win = 2 pts. | draw = 1 pt.)

All games


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.
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