Malcolm Pein on…So Close to Carlsen


carlsen vs so chess position
Table of Contents

MAGNUS Carlsen survived an almighty comeback from Wesley So in their quarter-final match at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid on Chess24.

Having taken the first set, Carlsen won the opening game of the second as Black, then went 1.5-0.5 ahead, only for So to take the match to a tie-break after winning games three and four.

So converted a double-rook endgame with an extra pawn and Carlsen was unable to defend another endgame, a pawn in arrears.

M. Carlsen – W. So.

carlsen vs so chess position
White to play

White had to activate the rook with 55.Ra7 and if 55…Rg4 56.Ra8! e4 57.Rf8, or 56…Rg1 57.Re8 Kf5 58.Re7 g6 59.Rf7+ Ke4 60.Rf6, or 56…Kf5 57.Rf8+ Ke4 58.Rf7 when White is just in time, i.e. 58…Kd3 59.Rxg7 e4 60.g6 e3 61.Rd7+ Kc2 62.Re7 Kd2 63.g7 e2 64.Rd7+ Ke1 65.Re7.

After 55.Ra7 Kf5 56.Rxg7 Re3+ 57.Kg2 Kg4 58.Re7 Kxh4 59.g6 draws.

55.Kg3? Rg4+! 56.Kh3 e4 57.Ra7 Rf4 58.Re7 Rg4 59.Ra7 Kf5! 60.Rxg7 e3 61.Rf7+ Ke4 62.Re7+ Kd3 (With his pawn on g5, not g7, White is lost) 63.Rd7+ Kc2 64.Re7 Kd2 65.Rd7+ Ke1 66.Rh7 Kf2 67.Rf7+ Ke1 68.Rh7 e2! 69.Rxh5 Re4 70.g6 Kd2 71.Rd5+ Ke3 0-1

Carlsen recovered immediately, outplaying So in both games of the blitz play-off, only forcing a draw in the second to progress 1.5-0.5.

In the semifinals, Carlsen faces Levon Aronian, who also needed a play-off to get past tournament sensation, 17-year-old Arjun Erigaisi. Ding Liren faces Vladislav Artemiev, who proved far too good for Anish Giri.

Ding drew the first set 2-2 with Jan-Krzysztof Duda, then lost a wild opening encounter in the second set.

However, the Chinese number one won the next three games, the final one being especially brutal.


Play through following game between Duda and Liren, and see if you can find out what Liren played as Black to end the game with a win. Black to play:


(Hint: highlight the white space below by selecting it)

23…Qd5! 0-1 The threat is…Nxg3+ and …Qxg2#. If 24.f3 Nxg3+!25.hxg3 Qh5+ 26.Nh3 Bxf3 is crushing or if 24.Nf3 Nxf3 25.Bxf3 Nxg3+!

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