Malcolm Pein on…The Struggling Favourites


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Malcolm Pein resumes his coverage of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational in today’s Daily Telegraph column. He focuses on the struggling favourites and presents a typically combative game featuring the Grunfeld Defense.

Malcolm Pein on…The Struggling Favourites

Favourites Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So were in the last-chance saloon after the first day of semifinals in the $200,000 (£145,000) Magnus Carlsen Invitational. Carlsen lost the third game of the first set to Russian number one Ian Nepomniachtchi and was unable to respond in game four, leaving him in a must-win situation in set two to force a tie-break.

Carlsen looked stunned afterwards and said: “It’s really, really frustrating because it just feels like a massive own goal in the third game. I had a great position in the opening, I just spent too much time there.” The champion miscalculated and then overlooked his opponent’s only chance for counterplay.

US champion Wesley So, winner of two Meltwater tour events, also has to win the second set against Anish Giri. So took game one, Giri levelled in game three and settled the set in game four.

W. So – A. Giri
Gruenfeld Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0–0 6.Rc1 Be6 7.c5 c6 8.Bd3 Bg4 9.Nge2 (Black wants to entice a weakening of the dark squares, for example, 9.f3 Bc8 10.Nge2 Nbd7 11.b4 e5! 12.dxe5 (12.Bg5 Re8) 12…Nh5) 9…b6 10.Na4 (10.b4!? and if 10…a5 11.b5 cxb5 12.Bxb5) 10…Nfd7! 11.f3?! e5! 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Bc8 (13…Bh6! 14.fxg4 Bxe3 is a remarkable position. Black only has one active piece, but it’s a monster that prevents castling and Black is better. After 13…Bh6 14.Qd2 Nd7! 15.fxg4 Nxe5 16.0–0 Nxg4 17.Nf4 Re8 yields very promising compensation, if 18.Rf3 d4) 14.f4 f6 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.0–0 (16.cxb6!? Qh4+ 17.g3 Qe7 18.Qd2) 16…Qe7 17.Qd2 Re8 18.Rf3 Bg4 19.Rg3 Bxe2 20.Bxe2 Nd7 21.b4 Nf6 22.Nc3 bxc5 23.bxc5 Rad8 24.f5?

Test Your Strength

Carlsen - Giri

Giri missed a strong move here. What was it?

24…gxf5? 25.Rf1 Ne4 26.Nxe4 fxe4 (Black has a superior structure and bishop) 27.Bg4 Rf8 28.Bf5 Rf6 29.Qe2 Qf7 30.Qg4?? Rf8 (A terrible pin, White will never unravel) 31.Rf2 Kh8 32.Be6 Qe7 33.Bf5 Bh6 34.Rh3 Qe5 35.Rf1

Carlsen - Giri
35…Rxf5 36.Rxf5 Rxf5 0–1 If 37.Rxh6 Qa1+ and mates.

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

24…Bh6! was very strong.

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