Chess: Carlsen’s record hunt starts badly while bizarre opening shocks pundits | Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen introduced not too long ago that his most important chess goal this 12 months might be a recent try to achieve an all-time record score of 2900, a degree which narrowly eluded the world champion in 2014 and 2019.

The 31-year-old Norwegian achieved 2882 in each years on the official Fide month-to-month score lists, and peaked at 2889 on the unofficial 2700chess daily ratings. Carlsen additionally acknowledged that he’ll solely defend his world championship crown in 2023 if his opponent is Alireza Firouzja, 18, the world No 2 former Iranian who now represents France, or one other from the teenage technology.

Expectations have been excessive that after such a forecast Carlsen would intention for a quick begin at Tata Metal Wijk aan Zee, the “chess Wimbledon” which he has received a record seven instances. Within the occasion, the early Wijk rounds have been a story of missed alternatives for the Norwegian, 31, and in a single case for his opponent.

On Thursday night after 5 of the 13 rounds, Carlsen was joint fourth on 3/5 with only a single win and 4 attracts, while the world champion’s score had dropped greater than 4 factors. With eight rounds to go, a grandstand end continues to be attainable, however even 6/8 for a complete of 9/15 would solely achieve one score level. Briefly, the ascent of 2900 goes badly.


Carlsen started by drawing with Andrey Esipenko, the 19-year-old Russian who defeated him at Wijk 2021, after lacking an opportunity for a robust central pawn push. Spherical two was a fine victory towards the world No 7, Anish Giri. A draw towards Poland’s World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda was adopted by a wild recreation towards Jorden van Foreest, the Dutchman who received Wijk 2021 after which joined Carlsen’s group for the world title match in Dubai. Carlsen missed an unbelievable win within the problems the place the hidden profitable manoeuvre was Kf1-e2-d1.

Thursday’s fifth round towards the event tailender Nils Grandelius may have been an actual catastrophe, Carlsen provided a pawn in a pointy place by 19…d5? however it will have been two pawns for little compensation had the Swede discovered 20 Bxb5+ Kf8 and now 21 Qb4+! Kg8 22 Qb3! when the d5 pawn is pinned and misplaced.

When Carlsen made his surges to a 2882 score in 2014 and 2019, there have been fewer speedy and blitz occasions, and little severe on-line play, to distract him. Now all this has modified, and Carlsen will defend his $1.6m Meltwater Champions Tour crown in a sequence of 9 tournaments beginning on 19 February. The Tour format has been revamped, with sped up matches of at some point relatively than two and the introduction of three factors for a win, one level for a draw.

The main trio at Wijk earlier than Friday’s sixth spherical (1pm begin) are India’s No 2, Vidit Gujrathi, Richard Rapport of Hungary, and the world No 5 from Azerbaijan, Shak Mamedyarov, all on 3.5/5.

Mamedyarov brought on a stir when he opened towards Esipenko with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g4?! The Russian teenager declined the pawn after an extended suppose, and the sport was finally drawn. Judging by the professional on-line feedback, if that pawn is obtainable in a future recreation, will probably be snapped up with out hesitation.

Chess 3799 extra

Mamedyarov was additionally concerned in an uncommon end towards Duda the place White (to maneuver) is rook for knight forward however Black’s h2 pawn is menacing and he threatens Rf5-h5. Nevertheless, after White’s subsequent transfer, Duda resigned. What occurred? The reply is alongside the puzzle answer.

3799: 1…Bxe4! 2 Rxe4 Ra8! wins as Black threatens Qxe4, Nxe4 and Ra1+. The sport ended 3 h4 Qxe4 4 Qxe4 Nxe4 5 Be3 Ra2 6 g5 Rxb2 and White resigned two pawns down. If 3 Bxf6 Ra1+ 4 Ne1 Rxe1+! and Qxf3. Mamedyarov v Duda: 1 Kb3! Resigns. If Rf5 2 Rc3+ Kg2 3 Rc2+ wins the h2 pawn and the sport.

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