Grand Final: Early Drama


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Grand Final: Early Drama

The Grand Final of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour brought early drama for chess fans throughout the world, from the very first round of the semi-final matches.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, so dominant in the online tournaments, took a tumble in the first set of his match with Ding Liren.

Draw to Win

Ding Liren, whose own recent form has been variable, held Carlsen to a 3-3 score in their first match. This brought the Armageddon Game into play. Carlsen was White and needed to win, but Ding played extremely well and ended up offering a draw from a winning position. Of course, the draw was enough for Ding to win the first set.

Carlsen Ding Drama

Magnus Carlsen – Ding Liren

White to play

Black could win easily by playing 42 …Qc5 and pushing the c-pawn all the way to promotion, but Ding Liren opted to seal the match by forcing a perpetual check instead. 42 Kg1 (or Kh2) Qe1+ 43 Kh2 Qe5+ is the point. 42 g3 doesn’t prevent the perpetual check. 42 …Qe2+ (cleverly shielded from the attention of the white queen by the pawn on c4) and Black will again force a repetition with 43 …Qe1+

Being ‘best of five’ gives plenty of scope to fight back. Carlsen dominated the second set, winning the first two games and then drawing the third to bring the contest to an early close.

The players are level at one set each and anything can still happen.

Nakamura in Control

Meanwhile, Hikaru Nakamura is in a very strong position in the other semi-final.

His first set against Daniil Dubov was tense and close, with Nakamura winning the sixth game to avoid the need for an Armageddon Game.

Five of the six games in this set were decisive.

This position is from the sixth and final game.

Grand Final Nakamura DubovNakamura – Dubov

Black to play

Black has an extra pawn but White clearly has excellent compensation. The bishop pair is just waiting to be unleashed and Black’s king is feeling the pressure on the white squares.

Nevertheless, the position is still nicely balanced.

Dubov slipped here with 35…b4?! Nakamura quickly seized the advantage after 36 Be1! Nf3 37 Bxb4, picking off the stray b-pawn and making his bishop extremely active at the same time.

Nakamura’s queenside pawns then proved to be faster than anything Dubov had elsewhere and the position was duly converted into a full point. 1-0 (58)

The second set wasn’t quite as bloodthirsty. The first two games were draws and then Nakamura won two in a row to seal another victory.

This position occurred in the third game of the second set.

Chess Tour Final Nakamura Dubov

Nakamura – Dubov

White to play

Chess engines now suggest 39 Qc7 and 39 Nc6 as the top two options for White but the human eye is more likely to enjoy Nakamura’s 39 Qc8+ when 39 …Rd8 40 Qxd8+ Rxd8 41 Rc8 (1-0, 43)

Dubov must hit back strongly in the third set, otherwise Nakamura will book his place in the final ahead of schedule.

Outlook: Early Drama Set to Continue

chess24 is the place to follow all of the big game action, complete with expert commentary.

The Grand Final’s early drama is surely just the start of the chess feast that waits us.

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