Reports Jun 21, 2020 | 12:40 AMby Colin McGourty

Chessable Masters 1: Artemiev leads on bad day for Magnus

22-year-old Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour debutant Vladislav Artemiev leads the A Group of the Chessable Masters on 3.5/5 after beating Harikrishna and Daniil Dubov on Day 1. The star names struggled, with Magnus Carlsen escaping in a couple of games before calling his play “fascinatingly stupid” as he lost a 3rd game to Dubov in just over a month. Hikaru Nakamura made all draws, while Alexander Grischuk lost to Harikrishna, with those two players currently in most danger of leaving the event before the quarterfinals.

Neither Hikaru Nakamura nor Magnus Carlsen impressed on Day 1 of the Chessable Masters, though Hikaru will have been very happy to escape a loss in their first round clash

You can replay all the Chessable Masters A Group games using the selector below:

And here’s the day’s live commentary from Yasser Seirawan, Anna Rudolf and Peter Svidler:

In the preliminary stage the 12 Chessable Masters players have been split into two groups of six, with the top four going on to the semifinals. They play each other twice, over two days, with the situation as follows at the halfway stage:

If it finished this way Artemiev, Dubov, Carlsen and Nakamura would go forward to the Final 8, while Grischuk and Harikrishna would be out. Let’s take a look at how things went for each of the players:

1. Vladislav Artemiev: 1st, 3.5/5, 2 wins, 3 draws

Russian Grandmaster Vladislav Artemiev is the youngest player in the Chessable Masters and playing his first event on the Tour, but it’s a surprise to no-one to see him do well at fast chess. Magnus Carlsen was once asked if the 2019 Gibraltar Masters and European Championship winner is “the real deal” and responded:

Yeah, he’s good. He has a very good natural feel for the game, which is great in blitz. I think he’s legit.

He started with White in the first two games and took full advantage by first outplaying Harikrishna in a tricky ending. 2-time Canadian Champion Pascal Charbonneau shows how he did it:

Then, just when it seemed he’d misplayed an advantage against his Russian colleague Daniil Dubov, he broke through:

After 27...Rxc7! it seems Dubov would have everything covered, but he went for 27…Be6? and it was suddenly game over when Artemiev replied 28.Bd5! There followed 28…Bxd5 29.Rxd5 Nf7 30.Nc6! and Black resigned, as Ne7+ will win a lot of material in most lines.

Pascal also explained that moment in detail in his Blunder of the Day video:

Two easy draws with Black against Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Grischuk followed for Artemiev, before he had to suffer in the final game of the day against Magnus. Things had gone wrong for Vlad after he allowed Magnus’ queen to e1 and had to block with 35.Bf1:

Magnus described it as “remarkably stupid” that he went for 35…Nxb5?! here, when after 36.Qxa4! Vladislav went on to hold without too much trouble. Instead Magnus pointed out 35…Ne4! afterwards, noting he only rejected it because of 36.Qe2. He’d missed 36…Qb1! – “Here it’s obvious to the naked eye that all my pieces have just been activated and I should be considerably better.”

Artemiev would now have to collapse badly on Monday not to reach the quarterfinals.

2. Daniil Dubov: 2nd, 3/5, 2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss

We saw Dubov’s slip against Artemiev, but otherwise the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge winner had another good day on the Tour. He bounced back to beat Harikrishna in a rook ending and then did something he’s been making a habit of… beat Magnus Carlsen!

That’s now a 3rd win since over-the-board chess ended for Dubov over Carlsen, after wins in the Steinitz Memorial and the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge. This one was extraordinary from start to finish, with Magnus meeting Dubov’s rare 2…c6 with the rarer 3.h3:

Then there was the question of whether Magnus merely missed 15…Bh6!

Magnus soon answered that afterwards:

The game against Dubov was just insane. I sacked the exchange, had all the compensation in the world and then I just went nuts.

It was a sacrifice, and he felt it was perfect against a player like Daniil who loves to have the initiative himself:

I can change the character of the game quite a bit and I think gain a massive initiative.

Whatever the objective strength of the move it worked out perfectly, until 23…Qf6:

Here Magnus summed things up with:

This is just fascinatingly stupid! I end up going for this fancy-schmancy stuff with 24.Rd4, while I think 24.Qc7 is very good.

It was, and for all the reasons Magnus explained afterwards, but in the game after 24.Rd4 a6 25.Rf4 Qe7 26.Bxd7 Bxd7 27.Bg5 Rac8 Magnus looked at the endgame after 28.Qxc8 and decided he had no winning chances, so he played 28.Qa1?

Magnus later answered:

That was just out there! I knew of course that I should not do this and then I was trying to calculate lines in order to sort of justify it, but of course it doesn’t work at all.

Dubov correctly responded 28…Qe2! 29.b3 Rc2! and here Magnus noted that one of his intentions was to play 30.Kh2 Qxf2 31.Nh4 when he admitted, “there are an embarrassing number of wins for Black here” in a position where, “my first thought is that I was better.” 

One of those was 31…Qe3!, threatening Qxh3+.

Magnus was forced to play the ugly 30.Bh4, when he admitted:

Here I understood that he’s probably much better and I think he played pretty well from here and won quite deservedly.

Dubov’s perhaps overly creative plan of trapping the white queen did give Magnus some chances, but the game ended in another famous win for Daniil:

Magnus vowed to be more pragmatic in future:

I think the exchange sac was excellent, it’s just at some point you’ve got to realise that you’ve messed up pretty royally and you shouldn’t mess up more! Cut your losses at some point.

3. Magnus Carlsen: 3rd, 2.5/5, 1 win, 3 draws, 1 loss

“It was pretty bad - that’s all I can say!” is how Magnus Carlsen summed up his day’s work, but from the way he said it you could see he’d also enjoyed a crazy ride:

The loss to Dubov was balanced out by a win over Harikrishna in a queen ending, but that’s not what people will remember about that game. Carlsen’s “solidifying” 30…Ba4? was in fact just a blunder:

31.Rxa4! Nxa4 32.Qa7!, attacking the rook and knight, wins on the spot, since 32…Rb4 runs into 33.Qa5 and Black loses a piece. Surprisingly, however, both Magnus, Hari and our commentators Peter Svidler and Yasser Seirawan missed the move, with 31.h4? h5? again allowing the win. Harikrishna played 32.Be2? but, unfortunately for him, noticed what he’d done shortly afterwards – while Peter was recommending the best approach is not even to check your games after you play them!

Magnus did miss serious winning chances against Hikaru Nakamura, but he was also dead lost against Alexander Grischuk, as we’ll see.

4. Hikaru Nakamura: 4th, 2.5/5, 5 draws

After a shaky start to the day against Magnus it felt as though Hikaru might have calculated that if he drew four games and beat the most likely weak link, Harikrishna, he’d be on a +1 score and on course to reach the quarterfinals. When Hari lost the first three games that didn’t seem unreasonable, and Naka did manage to build up a winning advantage in their Round 4 game:

47.Qc7+ Kh6 (if the king goes to the back rank simply 47.Qc8+ queens the a-pawn) 48.Qf4+ Kh7 49.Qa4! and the a-pawn queens. Here Hikaru blundered, however, with 47.Qb6? and after 47…Qc3+! it turns out there’s no way for the white king to escape checks long enough for White to create a second queen and win. In fact, Black soon managed to exchange off queens and win the a-pawn with a fork, with Harikrishna nominally better. Hikaru once again wore his heart on his sleeve:

So Hikaru ended the day only on 50%, but he remains unbeaten in the preliminary stage of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge and the Chessable Masters.

5. Alexander Grischuk: 5th, 2/5, 4 draws, 1 loss

The final two players are currently in the elimination spots, and if Alexander Grischuk goes out it will, once again, have a lot to do with his time management. In Round 3, with a 5-minute lead on the clock, Magnus decided to go for a double pawn sacrifice:

21.c4!? dxc4 (accepting took Grischuk another 2.5 minutes) 22.d5!? Bxd5. “I should obviously have lost to Grischuk at some point”, said Magnus, and when Alexander picked the correct moment to give back the exchange he gained a winning position. It just seemed a matter of time to convert the advantage…

…until 43…Kg7? allowed 44.Rb6!

Grischuk had spoilt his advantage with under 30 seconds on his clock and now got down to 1 second looking for a way out. The problem is 44…Qc5? runs into 45.Qf6+! Kg8 46.Rd6!, threatening Rd8, and it’s White who wins. There was nothing better than 44…Qc7 and after 45.Qxc7 Rxc7 46.Rxb4 Black had lost the second passed pawn and there was nothing but a draw.

The day could still have been a success for Alexander, until he met Harikrishna in the final round…

6. Harikrishna: 6th, 1 win, 1 draw, 3 losses

Losing the first three games and knowing you missed a win against the World Champion is a pretty tough start to a day, but Hari got a boost in Round 4 when he rescued a draw against Hikaru Nakamura. The final round of the day would make the day look much better, but it was a rocky ride! Hari was proud of a spark of inspiration but he said his WFM wife Nadezda Stojanovic asked him “what was this h4 move?” afterwards!

21.h4!? Qxh4 22.Ndf3 Qe7 23.g5!?, played with under 10 seconds on the clock, was from the Magnus Carlsen school of double pawn sacrifices against Grischuk. Once again, it wasn’t the best:

When Hari was asked what his plan was in case of 23…Bh3! he responded, “that was a good question!” Black just seems to lose material, but in the game 23…Ne6? lost on the spot to 24.Ng4! and suddenly the black kingside is collapsing. Grischuk resigned four moves later.

Pascal Charbonneau took an in-depth look at a spectacular end to the day! 

That means that Harikrishna is just a point behind Magnus and Hikaru and can still qualify for the quarterfinals if he performs well on Monday. The same of course applies to Grischuk, but he’s currently in danger of failing to get out of the preliminary stage for a second Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour event in a row.

That group will be decided on Monday, but first on Sunday we have the start of the “Candidates” Group B. It’s even harder to identify any weak links, so we’re sure to get an intense battle, with the live commentary once again starting at 15:30 CEST. 

Then don’t miss all the action live here on chess24 from 15:30 CEST on Sunday!

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