Latest news

Reports Jul 23, 2016 | 10:19 AMby Colin McGourty

Bilbao 9: Carlsen ends Giri curse to claim 3rd title

Nothing lasts forever! Magnus Carlsen has beaten Anish Giri for the first time in a classical game, a result that was doubly sweet as it also meant the World Champion had won the 2016 Bilbao Masters with a round to spare. The other games were once more disappointing draws, leaving Magnus as the only player to have won more than one game as we head into Saturday’s final round, which starts one hour earlier than usual.

Magnus finally gets his man | image: wadalupe

Replay all the Bilbao Masters 2016 games using the selector below:

Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Anish Giri

No more Mr. Plus Score | photo: Bilbao Chess

Magnus Carlsen started Bilbao 2016 by losing his unbeaten record against Hikaru Nakamura in classical chess, but he’d probably have accepted that price if he’d known he would end the tournament by finally getting the better of Anish Giri. In a way it was perhaps a relief for both players, whose games against each other had buckled under the weight of that infamous “plus score against the World Champion”. Shock jock “Radio Jan” even went as far as to call for Anish to resign while he had a superior position

Let's have a look at Anish Giri, for example, with the black pieces here against Magnus Carlsen. Anish Giri - all he's living for is having this plus score against the World Champion. Yeah, congratulations, you won a game against him when you were 17 and the World Champion played like a little girl in that game and ever since you've been drawing him. Is that what you want to be remembered for? Never winning a supertournament and drawing Magnus Carlsen to keep this plus one score. Do you know who had a plus score against Garry Kasparov? Joel Lautier. Have you heard of Joel Lautier recently? Neither have I! Probably the people he's doing business with, whatever he's doing, have, but that's not a way to play chess, Anish. You've got to try and win tournaments, not define yourself by drawing against Magnus Carlsen. It's just making me sad. What you should do is just resign this game now, get this never losing to the World Champion out of the way and then have a fresh start. So resign - don't even play b5, no-one cares about your score against Magnus anymore!

You can watch the full appearance by Radio Jan below, including why Carlsen is “an abomination of a role model for the world of chess”!

The game itself was going Giri’s way, for a while, with Carlsen admitting to doing some “gambling”, but Anish explained his problems:

In the big picture the summary is that I’m in bad shape. Up to a point I’m maintaining my level, and then when the pressure increases I can’t keep it up… Someone who's in bad shape usually blunders something at some point.

He could have lost swiftly when he pinned himself by capturing a pawn on e5:

Here 23.c5!! bxc5 24.Ra6! picks up two pieces for the rook, with the attack continuing. Magnus instead went for 23.cxd5 exd5 24.Nb3, which, while not objectively the best approach, still left Giri with a very tough position to navigate in time trouble. At least that moment gave Anish some comfort when he spotted the win in the post-game press conference:

Winning on the spot! I didn’t see this. That changes quite a lot. That’s kind of easy, right... It makes me feel good, because I wasn’t the only one who was missing everything today!

Anish would later crack in time trouble when confronted by a brilliant and unexpected move from his opponent, as Jan explains in his video commentary on the game:

The day’s other games almost went out of their way to ensure there was no distraction from the big clash. Wei Yi once again played the Catalan, but had clearly been paying attention in his Supertournaments for Rookie GMs class and varied with 11.Na3 rather than waiting to see what improvement Wesley So had prepared on Nakamura’s play the day before. 

A calm draw between two Asian chess superstars | photo: Bilbao Chess 

What followed showed that Wesley had probably also been paying attention while watching Jan Gustafsson’s Catalan video series for chess24. Sure enough, the promised draw materialised.

Nakamura would end the day five points adrift of Carlsen | photo: Bilbao Chess

Jan also had a lot to answer for in the day’s other game. His over-the-board idea with 9.a3 against Arkadij Naiditsch in the 2015 Spanish Team Championship was later given the stamp of approval by Nakamura in a game he was winning, then lost, against Carlsen in the Paris Grand Chess Tour. In Bilbao Karjakin had prepared an improvement on Carlsen’s play with 17…a6 (not 17…Qd5!?):

Nakamura trusted that Karjakin had analysed all the lines involving a capture on c4 and so, needing a win to stay in the Bilbao title hunt, he punted his h-pawn up the board with 18.h4!? Bd5 19.h5!?. Radio Jan (see the earlier video), was a fan (kind of):

Feels like Kindergarten Cop to me. Pushing your h-pawn up the board has absolutely nothing to do with the position, but let me tell you, I'm actually happy that Nakamura did this, because the man I used to respect was a young Hikaru Nakamura who played 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5, going for Scholar's Mate, trying to humiliate his opponents, who played the King's Indian, who played lines that lost on the spot against Vishy Anand but still won games by the sheer power of will, who played 18 hours of blitz every night on the internet, or bullet, crushing people left and right, and look what we got now. We have a sell-out, a modern industrious "supergrandmaster" playing all the right openings - so exciting - playing 1.d4, playing the Catalan, playing the Berlin. What's the difference between you, Hikaru, and Anish Giri nowadays? Look into the mirror and ask yourself what you've done. Start playing for Scholar's Mates again, play the King's Indian, play the Leningrad Dutch and h4-h5, which makes no sense, but it at least looks like you're back on the right track!

The players soon exchanged all pieces but a couple of rooks and drew by repetition on move 34.

Will we see a transformed Karjakin in the World Championship match this November? | photo: Bilbao Chess

That means no-one can now catch Carlsen, who has been helped out by the three points for a win system. Under the normal one point for a win there would still be some tournament intrigue as Nakamura could make up the one-point gap in the final round and force a playoff. 

Once again in a class of his own | photo: Bilbao Chess

What’s left to play for, then? Well, 2nd place is very much up for grabs, and even Giri can still climb off the bottom if he beats Nakamura. So-Carlsen is not a matchup that has any enjoyable backstory behind it, but Magnus would no doubt enjoy doing the double over one of his rivals – just to emphasise his domination that little bit more!

Don’t miss our live commentary from 16:00 CEST with Jan Gustafsson and Niclas Huschenbeth! The games are available live in our free mobile apps:  


See also:

Sort by Date Descending Date Descending Date Ascending Most Liked Receive updates

Comments 35

Guest 4675924693
Join chess24
  • Free, Quick & Easy

  • Be the first to comment!


Create your free account now to get started!

I am aged 16 or older.

By clicking ‘Register’ you agree to our terms and conditions and confirm you have read our privacy policy, including the section on the use of cookies.

Lost your password? We'll send you a link to reset it!

After submitting this form you'll receive an email with the reset password link. If you still can't access your account please contact our customer service.

Data Consent Details

We respect your privacy and data protection guidelines.

Using chess24 requires the storage of some personal data, as set out below. You can find additional information in our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, Disclaimer and Terms of Website Use. Please note that your data settings can be changed at any time by clicking on the Data Settings link in the footer at the bottom of our website.

data details

Necessary Data

Some data is technically necessary to be able to visit the page at all. A so-called cookie stores identifiers that make it possible to respond to your individual requests. It contains a session ID - a unique, anonymous user ID combined with an authentication identifier (user_data). A security identifier (csrf) is also stored to prevent a particular type of online attack. All of these fields are alpha-numeric, with almost no relation to your real identity. The only exception is that we monitor some requests with the IP address that you are currently using, so that we are able to detect malicious use or system defects. Additionally, a technical field is stored (singletab) to ensure that some interactions are only processed in the browser tab that is currently active. For example, a new chess game will not be opened in all your current tabs. We use your local storage to save the difference between your local clock and our server time (serverUserTimeOffset), so that we are able to display the date and time of events correctly for you. You can also enable more data fields, as described in the other sections. Your personal decision on which data storage to enable is also stored as necessary information (consent).

Settings Data

We offer a range of personal settings for your convenience. Options include which opponents you prefer to be paired against, your preferred chessboard and pieces, the board size, the volume setting of the video player, your preferred language, whether to show chat or chess notation, and more. You can use our web page without storing this data, but if you would like to have your individual settings remembered we recommend enabling this feature. For logged-in registered users this setting is mandatory to store information about your privacy settings, users you have blocked and your friendship settings. As a registered user we also store your data consent in these settings.

Social Media Data

We embed a Twitter feed showing activity for the hashtag #c24live and also make it possible to share content in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If you enable this option social networks are able to store data in your cookies or local storage for the purpose of these features.

Statistics Data

We would like to measure how our page is used with Google Analytics, so that we can decide which features to implement next and how to optimize our user experience. If you enable this feature Google will store your device identifiers and we will send tracking events (such as page requests) to Google Analytics. These have no direct relationship to your person except for the IP address currently being used.

Marketing Data

To help cover the cost of free services we would like to show you advertisements from our partner networks. Members of these networks store data on the banners shown to you and try to deliver ads that are relevant. If you choose not to allow this kind of data we have to show more anonymous advertisements and will be more limited in the free services we can offer.

Other Data

For registered users we store additional information such as profile data, chess games played, your chess analysis sessions, forum posts, chat and messages, your friends and blocked users, and items and subscriptions you have purchased. You can find this information in your personal profile. A free registration is not required to use this application. If you decide to contact the support team a ticket is created with information that includes your name and email address so that we can respond to your concern. This data is processed in the external service Zendesk. If you subscribe to a newsletter or are registered we would like to send you occasional updates via email. You can unsubscribe from newsletters and as a registered user you can apply several mail settings to control how your email address is used. For newsletters we transfer your email address and username to the external service MailChimp. If you buy content or subscriptions on chess24 we work with the payment service provider Adyen, which collects your payment data and processes information about the payment such as fraud protection data.