Malcolm Pein on…the Big Final


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Malcolm Pein’s Daily Telegraph column now focuses on the big final of the Skilling Open chess tournament.

As we found out yesterday, Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So made it through the tough semi-finals.

Malcolm examines the first of their two mini-matches and, as a special Sunday treat, there are two puzzles to ponder.

Malcolm Pein on…the Big Final

Wesley So exchanged blows with Magnus Carlsen in the final of the Skilling Open on Chess24 as an eventful first leg ended 2-2. So levelled twice, after losing games one and three. This was the first of the seven matches in the knockout phase without a draw. Carlsen pressed in game one, So defended stoutly and was unlucky to lose:

M. Carlsen – W. So

Tarrasch Defence 15+10

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 cxd4 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.e4 dxe4 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Ng5 Be6 10.Nxe6+ fxe6 11.Bc4 Ke7 12.0–0 Nbd7 13.Be3 Rc8 14.Bb3 Nc5 15.Bxc5+ Rxc5 16.Rfe1 g6 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Rxe4 e5 19.f4 Bg7 20.Rae1 Rf8 21.fxe5 Rf5 22.e6 Bxb2 23.Rd1 Rc7 24.g4 Rf8 25.Kg2 b5 26.Re2 Bc3 27.Re3 Bb4 28.Red3 a5 29.Rd7+ Rxd7 30.Rxd7+ Kf6 31.Rb7 a4 32.g5+ Kxg5 33.Rxb5+ Rf5? (After 33…Kf6 34.Bxa4 Bd6 Black fights on.)

Skilling Open Big Final

34.Rxb4 axb3 35.e7 bxa2 (35…Re5 36.Rb5! Rxb5 37.e8Q bxa2 38.Qxb5+) 36.e8Q a1Q 37.Qe7+ Kh6 38.Rh4+ Rh5 39.Qf8+ Qg7 40.Qf4+ g5 All forced; So allowed himself a smile as he realised what was coming.

Carlsen - So Big Final

White to play and win

Can you play as well as Carlsen? The answer is at the end of this post.

In game two, So played a couple of moves in the wrong order and what had been a winning advantage evaporated. Carlsen began to press in his trademark style before So found an excellent defence that halted the champion’s king march. Carlsen wandered his king back before blundering into a beautiful mating pattern: So-Carlsen after 88.Qc5-e3+ Ke7-f8?? (Anything else draws.)

Skilling Open

White to play and mate in five

Highlight the test below this line to unveil the answers to both of todays puzzles.

Answer 1: 41.Qd6+ Qg6 42.Qf8+ Qg7 43.Rxh5+ 1–0

Answer 2: 90.Qe8+ Kg7 91.Qf7+ Kh6 92.Qh7+ Kg5 93.Qh5+ 1–0 In view of 93…Kf4 94.Qf5#

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