Malcolm Pein on…The Champion’s Slow Start


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Malcolm Pein resumes his coverage of the FTX Crypto Cup in today’s Daily Telegraph column and examines the World Champion’s slow start.

Malcolm Pein on…The Champion’s Slow Start

It wasn’t just the price of Bitcoin which was in decline when the FTX Crypto Cup began on Chess 24, Magnus Carlsen’s form also dipped after he played what he described as ‘awful’ chess.

The world champion ended the first day on just 2.5/5 after drawing his final game against the Argentinian underdog Alan Pichot. Carlsen was placed ninth of 16 players and must improve his play over the remaining 10 rounds to qualify for the eight-player knockout phase.

T. Radjabov – P. Svidler
English Symmetrical 15+10

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Qc7 7.e4 e6 8.Bd3 Bd7 9.Qd2 Bc6 10.Qf4 Qxf4 11.Bxf4 Nd7 12.0–0–0 Be7 13.Bc2 f6 14.e5 Nb6 15.exf6 gxf6 16.Rhe1 Kf7 17.Bg3 Rad8 18.Rxd8 Rxd8 19.Bd1 Bf8 20.Nh4 Bh6+ 21.f4 Nd5 22.Bh5+ Kg8 23.Rf1 e5 24.Rd1 Rf8

Test Your Strength

T. Radjabov – P. Svidler

White to play and win material

Carlsen drew with his next title challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi and missed a chance to score a psychological blow after the latter blundered but managed to fight back and draw. For today’s second puzzle, find Carlsen’s strong move, which secured him the advantage. Nepo has just played 21…Qc6-d5? when 21…Rf7 was solid enough.

Test Your Strength

Champion's Slow Start: Magnus Carlsen - Ian Nepomniachtchi

White to play

Nepo saved himself here after Carlsen’s 35.Kd1-e2? (35.Ra8!) 35…g3! (If 36.hxg3 h2 37.Ra1 Nxg3+=) 36.Kf3 gxh2 37.Ra1 Nd4+ 38.Kg3 Nxc2 39.Rc1 Nb4 (Black ensures the exchange of the remaining pawns) 40.Kxh2 Kd4 41.b3 c5 42.Kxh3 Nc6 43.Rc4+ Kd5 44.Kg2 Ne5 45.Rc1 c4 46.bxc4+ Nxc4 47.Rxc4 Kxc4 draw

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answers.

Answer One: 25.Rxd5! Bxd5 26.Nf5 Be6 27.Nxh6+ Kg7 28.Ng4 1–0

Answer Two: 22.Nd6+ won the exchange in view of 22…Nxd6 23.Qg6+.

Play Through the Games


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