Magnus Carlsen booked another showdown with Hikaru Nakamura, this time in the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge semi-finals, after winning two wild games with the black pieces to beat Wesley So 2.5:0.5. Magnus will first have a rest day – one he’s using to play Banter Blitz here on chess24 – but Daniil Dubov and Sergey Karjakin will join Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi in playing deciding matches on Wednesday. The Russians have now traded 8 decisive games with Sergey winning in Armageddon from what should have been a hopeless position.
There was only one draw in eight games on Day 4 of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge quarterfinals:
In live commentary Lawrence Trent was joined not by one but two Peters, Svidler and Leko:
For a video recap of the day’s action check out Pascal Charbonneau’s Aftershow:
Magnus Carlsen won the first mini-match in this quarterfinal 2.5:0.5 and he did it again in the second to reach the semi-final, though he felt the score flattered him a little:
I do think the score is a little bit heavier than it probably could have been, but clearly I did better at the critical moments, so that’s the important thing.
The first game of the day set the tone, with an Anti-Berlin soon getting out of hand. When Wesley captured the black e5-pawn Magnus decided to go for 25…Nxg2!?
How did Magnus assess this position?
I felt intuitively that Black should be doing pretty well here, since his king is getting so weak… no pun intended.
26.Kxg2 and aiming to consolidate may have been the best choice, since after the more ambitious 26.Qg3!? Nh5 27.Qxg2 Rxe5 28.Nxh6+ Kf8 29.Ng4 the ruined white structure was more than enough compensation for the pawn deficit, with Magnus soon making full use of the dynamic potential of his position:
The pressure was so great that it was soon Black who had an
extra pawn, and though it might have been saveable with perfect play Wesley stumbled
and resigned on move 61.
He was then playing comeback both in the mini-match and the tie, but he wasn’t going to burn any bridges with Black in the next game. He played the Berlin and Magnus decided he had no need to push with the white pieces as he made a fast 29-move draw:
I thought I’m doing fine with Black and this just moves me half a point closer to qualification.
Game 3 was like Game 1, but more so, with even Wesley throwing caution to the wind!
For the most part it seems Black was significantly better, but mistakes were made, and you couldn’t beat how Magnus described it:
I’ve gotta say that the last game was just a ridiculous mess and I had very little clue of what was going on! I felt like I was doing pretty well early on and then at some point the wheels came off and I might as well have been lost. The only thing I sort of had seen was this little trap that I have Nf3 and Qd3 at the end, but other than that I didn’t know.
It was unfortunate for Wesley that his taking on e8 twice was the correct idea, but he needed to have shuffled his king a square in any direction first. As it was, Magnus was able to wrap up the contest:
32…Nf3+! wins neatly in all three lines. 33.Bxf3 runs into 33…Bd7+, picking up the white queen, 33.Kf1 allows mate-in-1 with 33…Qd3#, while 33.Kh1, as played in the game, also ran into the only winning (or not losing) move 33…Qd3! and there’s no good defence to the threat of Qd1+ next. Wesley played one more move, but after 34.Bd2 Qxd2 conceded defeat in the game and match.
That means it’s Magnus who goes forward to the semi-final against Hikaru Nakamura, a repeat of the final of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, starting Thursday. How is Magnus feeling about playing an in-form player?
Obviously, as you said, he’s done tremendously well. I’m happy to get a free day tomorrow to rest up and prepare… but I’m pretty optimistic!
Check out the full post-match interview with Magnus:
Magnus won’t be entirely resting on the free day, since at 14:00 CEST he’s going to be playing another session of Banter Blitz right here on chess24! If you’re a Premium member you too have a chance to play the World Champion:
Daniil Dubov had managed to completely bamboozle his compatriot Sergey Karjakin on the way to a 3:0 win in their first mini-match and he came into the second match with the same evil intentions. In Game 1 he met 1.e4 with the Nimzowitsch Defence 1…Nc6 and later went for the exotic king evacuation 11…Kd7, which also happens to be the computer’s first choice! Our commentators were loving it:
Daniil’s fun didn’t last so long, however, as queens were exchanged and he stumbled into a tricky ending. He came very close to saving it at times, but Sergey got to demonstrate his exceptional technique:
The final move was 69.Nc6, which one watching grandmaster thought was appropriate!
What had inspired Sergey? It turned out it was the memory of
the match Peter Svidler would love to forget – the 2015 World Cup final when he
took a 2:0 lead in the classical games against Sergey and was on the verge of winning the 3rd and the match... before it all
went wrong, and he ended up losing a match that featured 10 decisive games in a row.
Sergey: But the only thing I want to say is that in the first game I was trying hard because I knew that I can win some decisive games because of my experience against Peter.
Peter: Thank you very much… I needed that! I needed that.
Coming from behind to beat Karjakin is not one of the easiest tasks in chess, and when Game 2 reached a quiet endgame it seemed unlikely a comeback was going to start there… but as Magnus would later put it:
Sergey missed a chance to grab the pawn on g4 and gradually got into trouble, with Daniil eventually weaving a mating net:
So it was advantage Dubov, and what would he do next in the
opening? The Scandinavian (1.e4 d5) was his choice!
It worked to perfection, with a little help from Sergey, who later explained:
I just want to say that I mixed it up completely, because I studied some Scandinavian but after Nf3 there is the option for Black to play g6, and after g6 one of the main moves is Nb5 Qd8 Bf4, and so it goes, and I simply mixed it up. I was just confident that I’m following some theory…
6.Nb5 and 7.Bf4 actually seemed to fit just fine where Sergey played them, but 11.Nd2? was already inviting disaster, which came in the traditional modern form:
Karjakin’s last real blunder was 13.Be2?, though the position was already dire:
13…Bxa3! was simply winning, since 14.bxa3 runs into 14…Nc3! and it’s game over. Sergey played 14.Bxg4 Bxb2 15.Bxh5 Bxa1, but you didn’t need to be Peter Svidler to feel that resigning might have been at least as valid an option:
Sergey eventually threw in the towel on move 28, and then in Game 4, needing only a draw, it seemed Daniil had managed to rein in his natural instincts and play for that draw. Everything was under control until he played a move that seemed to overlook that Black’s queen had returned from b2 to e5 instead of f6 - 42.Rd7?
42…Bxe3! 43.fxe3 Qxg3+ and we were soon headed for Armageddon:
As the higher-placed finisher in the round-robin Sergey could choose the colour and went for Black, meaning he had a minute less on the clock but needed only a draw. Soon, however, the clock seemed irrelevant, since Daniil built up a simply overwhelming position:
30.Qf2! intending Qg3 and the black kingside can’t withstand the coming onslaught, but here Daniil began to lose the plot: 30.Nh4 g6 31.Nf5? (31.Rf5!) 31…Rbe8 32.Ne7+ Rxe7 33.fxe7 Re8 34.e6? f5! and suddenly Black was perfectly fine:
Behind on the clock as well, Dubov found himself in a hopeless situation in a must-win game and ultimately went on to lose.
Sergey had done it, but he confessed it hadn’t been his greatest ever performance:
I don’t want to say it now, because I just won the match, but I’m disappointed with my play and there was nothing good with my play.
Here’s the full post-match interview with Sergey:
He has a chance to show what he’s really capable of as the semi-final now goes to a 3rd and final mini-match, which will be played alongside the all-Chinese clash Ding Liren vs. Yu Yangyi.
Don’t miss those matches from 15:30 CEST, and before that remember to tune in for Banter Blitz with World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen from 14:00 CEST!
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