Malcolm Pein returns to the big clash in the FTX Crypto Cup between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura in today’s Daily Telegraph column. 

Malcolm Pein on…The Big Clash

Magnus Carlsen just got the better of Hikaru Nakamura in the quarter-final of the online at Chess24. It was another hugely entertaining match between the two most accomplished online players.

After a 2-2 draw in the first set, where the player of the white pieces won all the games, the second set started with two wins for Black. Nakamura took the lead and Carlsen levelled. Presumably dissatisfied with his openings, Carlsen decided it was time for some ‘monkey business’ and proffered the Orangutan Opening with 1.b4.

The opening was all right before Carlsen blundered. Nakamura won a couple of pawns, yet was unable to convert. A second draw followed to force a tie-break, in which Nakamura quickly went wrong in the first game and was comprehensively outplayed in the return.

Carlsen was full of praise for his opponent afterwards and commented: “Thanks to Hikaru as well for making it a great match. It’s always a pleasure to play these matches against him and they are never boring.”

The Giuoco Piano in Action

M. Carlsen – H. Nakamura
Knockout, QF Set 1 Game 2
Giuoco Piano 15+10

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0–0 Nf6 5.d3 0–0 6.h3 h6 7.c3 d6 8.Re1 a5 (Preventing queenside expansion with b2-b4, so Carlsen advances in the centre) 9.d4 Bb6 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 d5 (11…Nxe4?? 12.d5 Ne7 13.Bxb6 wins a piece; or 12…Bxe3 13.Rxe3 attacks two knights) 12.exd5 Ne7 13.Nc3 Nexd5 14.Qd2 c6

Magnus Carlsen – Hikaru Nakamura: The Big Clash

15.Bxh6! gxh6 16.Qxh6 Bf5?

(16…Nh7 17.Ne4 Bf5 18.Ng3 Bg6 19.Nh5 Bxh5 20.Qxh5 Qf6 21.Re4 Nf4 22.Qg4+ Ng6 23.h4 Kh8 is not bad for Black and 16…Nh7 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.Bd3 f5 followed by Qf6 is playable) 17.Re5 Bg6 18.Rg5
(This overloads Black’s defences. 18.Nh4! is even stronger and after 18…Bxd4 19.Nxg6 fxg6 20.Rg5 Nh7 21.Rxd5 wins or if 20…Kf7 21.Qxg6+ or 21.Bxd5+! win quickly) 18…Nh7 19.Rg4 Re8 20.Nxd5 cxd5 21.Bd3 Nf8 22.Ne5 Re6 23.Bf5 Rd6 24.Nxg6 fxg6 25.Bxg6 Rxg6 26.Rxg6+ Nxg6 27.Qxg6+ Kh8 28.Qh5+ Kg8 29.Qg4+ Kh7

Test Your Strength

Magnus Carlsen – Hikaru Nakamura: White to Play and Win

White to play and win


Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

Bring everyone to the party. 30.Re1 Rc8 31.Re6 1–0

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