Malcolm Pein on…Magnus the Third


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Today’s Daily Telegraph chess column brings Malcolm Pein’s report on an unfamiliar scenario for the World Champion, as he becomes Magnus the Third.

Malcolm Pein on…Magnus the Third

Magnus Carlsen found himself in the unfamiliar position of being the sideshow on the final day of the fourth Meltwater Tour event that bore his name. Having been eliminated in the semifinals by Ian Nepomniachtchi, the world champion had to take on Wesley So, who he has found a difficult opponent of late, in the third- fourth place play-off.

Carlsen decided to have some fun, playing some pretty random chess in the opening of the first game. So looked uncomfortable when taken out of book at an early stage and was crushed. Carlsen easily won the match with another win in game four, which I will analyse tomorrow, and a win in game one of the second set.

The Four Knights Game in Action

M. Carlsen – W. So
Four Knights Irregular

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.a4!? (Moves like a2-a4, a2–a3 and h2–h3 often come in useful soon enough) 4…Bb4 5.Bd3 d6 6.0–0 0–0 7.Nd5 Bc5 8.c3 a5 (White threatened b2–b4 and a4–a5 snaring a bishop and intends d2–d4 and Bg5) 9.Bc2 Nxd5 10.exd5 Ne7 11.Ng5 h6 12.d4 Bb6 13.Nh7 Re8

Magnus the Third

14.Nf6+ (There are two tempting sacrifices here: 14.Bxh6 gxh6 15.Nf6+ Kg7 16.Qf3 Ng6 17.Nh5+ Kg8 (17…Kf8?? 18.Bxg6) 18.Nf6+ is good for a draw, or Black can try 18…Kh8 19.Nxe8 Qxe8 20.Qf6+ Kg8 21.f4 exd4 22.Rae1 d3+ 23.Kh1 when there is an amusing line 23…Qxe1 24.Rxe1 dxc2 25.Re8+ Nf8 and White must bale out with 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.Qxh6+ Ke8 28.Qh8+ Kd7 29.Qh3+ Ke7 30.Qh4+ f6 31.Qh7+ and draws) 14…gxf6 15.Qh5 e4 (After 15…Qd7 16.h3 Ng6 17.Bxg6 fxg6 18.Qxg6+ Kh8 19.Re1 threatens Re3 when Black should allow a perpetual after 19…Rg8 20.Qxh6+ Qh7 21.Qxf6+ Qg7 22.Qh4+ Qh7 23.Qf6+) 16.Re1 f5? (Black holds after 16…Bf5 17.Re3 Bg6 18.Rg3 Qd7 19.Bxe4 f5 20.Bd3 Nxd5 21.Bxh6 Qe6 22.Bd2 f4 23.Rg4 Nf6 24.Rxg6+ and draws) 17.Bxh6 Nxd5 (Black is already lost. If 17…Ng6 18.Bg5 Qd7 19.Bf6) 18.Bg5 f6 (18…Nf6 19.Qh4 Re6 20.d5 and 18…Qd7 19.Bb3 are equally hopeless)

Test Your Strength

Carlsen - So

White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

19.Bb3! c6 (19…Be6 20.Qg6+ Kf8 21.Bh6+ Ke7 22.Qh7+ Bf7 23.Bxd5 or 19…fxg5 20.Qg6+ Kf8 21.Bxd5 or 20…Kh8 21.Re3 g4 22.Qh6+ Kg8 23.Bxd5+) 20.Re3 Kf8 21.Qg6 f4 22.Bh6+ Ke7 23.Qh7+ 1–0

Play Through the Game


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