Malcolm Pein on…Carlsen’s Struggle


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Malcolm Pein’s coverage of the FTX Crypto Cup continues in today’s Daily Telegraph column as he looks at Magnus Carlsen’s struggle to improve his form.

Malcolm Pein on…Carlsen’s Struggle

Magnus Carlsen’s woes continued on day two at the FTX Crypto Cup online at Chess24 as he failed to improve his position in the standings and risked crashing out in the preliminaries.

The top eight players go through to the knockout phase. Carlsen remained ninth on 5.5/10, after he lost to Levon Aronian in the last game of the day.

Aronian suffered on day one after a power cut in Yerevan. The Armenian former Candidate had to play on in the dark and try to conserve power on his laptop. Despite his victory over Carlsen, Aronian was only on 4.5/10.

Fabiano Caruana was understandably rusty on day one as he had not played online for nine months, but he won three and drew two to take the joint lead on 6.5/10 with Hikaru Nakamura and Teimour Radjabov. Five games remain.

Carlsen scored an easy point here in a game that closely resembled a debacle from the second Mr Dodgy Invitational.

M. Carlsen – A. Grischuk
Nimzo-Larsen Attack 15+10

1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 Bc5 6.Nf5 d5!? (6…0–0 7.e3 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5?? 9.Qg4 1–0 Adhiban-Navara) 7.Nxg7+ Kf8 8.cxd5 Bd4 9.Nc3 Ne7 (9…Nxd5 10.Nh5 Qg5 11.e3 Bg4 12.Qc1 Qxh5 13.Nxd5 Qxd5 14.exd4 followed by Bc4 is good for White) 10.e3! Bxc3 11.dxc3 Kxg7 12.c4 Ng6 (White has two pawns and a huge positional advantage for the sacrificed piece.)

Carlsen's Struggle: M. Carlsen – A. Grischuk

13.g4 h6 14.h4 c5 15.Be2 (15.f4!) 15…Kg8 16.Qc2 Rh7 17.0–0–0 Nxg4 18.h5 Nf8 19.Qxe4 f5 20.Qc2 Nxf2 21.Rhg1+ Kf7 22.Rdf1 Qh4 23.Be5? (23.Rg2 Ne4 24.Rg4 was one way) 23…Qe4? (23…Qe7) 24.Qc3 Nh3 25.Rg4 1–0

Carlsen's Struggle - Winning Attack

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Black to play and win

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19…Rc5! 20.Qb3 Rxg5 won a piece and, soon after, the game.

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