World news – 2021 Magnus Carlsen Invitational: Giri, Nepomniachtchi reach the finals when Team Hikaru brings in $ 1 million in donations


The final of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational 2021 will be held between GM Anish Giri and GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. While Giri defeated Wesley So twice, Nepomniachtchi lost his second match against GM Magnus Carlsen, but then won the playoffs.

During the live broadcast on GM Hikaru Nakamura’s Twitch channel, over 360,000 US dollars were raised for the humanitarian CARE agency collected. During the third fundraiser in a few months, the total donation exceeded a million dollars.

I am honored and extremely proud to be part of our three fundraising drives for @CARE with @GothamChess @Anna_Chess and the wizard who came up with the idea @ chessbae94 came to have been part of and collected over 1,000,000 USD

« Today it was clearly a lottery and I was the one who got the winning ticket » said Nepomniachtchi shortly after denying Carlsen a place in the final. Although the Russian grandmaster was satisfied with his match win, he wanted to reiterate that the level of chess in these online tournaments is sometimes questionable.

« It wasn’t about chess, most games and most mistakes, » he added added. « This is what happens when you play chess for many days in a row: you end up making mistakes. »

Sure, it was a lottery today and I was the one who got the winning ticket. – Ian Nepomniachtchi

« I’m really disappointed with my performance today … of course, congratulations to Ian and I wish him the best of luck in the final, » said Carlsen. « Today was really very poor. It’s not the kind of game I even want to show. »

After a draw in the first game, Nepomniachtchi seemed to have won a pretty good second game, but it turned out both players missed a few things here and there. For example, the pawn move 19 … h4 was due to an oversight: Nepomniachtchi had completely overlooked the fact that White could keep his h-pawn by simply pressing it on h5!

After a first match win, Nepomniachtchi only needed a draw to qualify for the finals. Carlsen, for his part, had to win two games in a row. And he did.

The most dramatic encounter was the third game. « There are 1001 ways to draw as white, but I thought, OK, let’s play a normal game. I don’t want to draw, » he said. « At some point I think I almost won from the opening. »

« Winning » is a bit boring, but the Russian GM was definitely okay in the early middlegame. What followed was an epic battle in which Carlsen emerged victorious. Even though he won that game, Carlsen said he actually played ‘really badly’: « I made some mistakes there, especially early on and also later. I felt like it was more of some kind of him who stumbled there than I did something great. « 

Nepomniachtchi: » It’s very typical when one player has nothing to lose and another player has everything to lose, usually a miracle comes up here, at least when we hit the blitz phase , Magnus finally had something to lose, too. « 

Carlsen secured a playoff when he won his next game with remarkable ease, using a system that Giri had used last month to beat the same player in Opera Euro Rapid. See the Game Viewer below for this one.

The first blitz game had a strange ending. Nepomniachtchi got into trouble and at some point liquidated the theoretically drawn endgame R vs. RN. Carlsen continued to play for a while (as one should), but at one point stumbled (mouse slipped?) A full tower while on the defending side for a short time.

Carlsen’s loss in the last blitz game was unnecessary and in some way Way the result of overpressure. He had played for two results in an endgame with queen and rook for both, with the better pawn structure. Finally, a queen endgame came on the board with a passed pawn for Nepomniachtchi.

The computer analysis shows that Carlsen could have drawn at a very late point in time, but also that Nepomniachtchi gave his opponent a second chance:

« Ultimately, the game decided he managed to keep his head pretty still in the lightning bolt, and I certainly didn’t, » Carlsen said. « I was obviously happy to get to Blitz, but I still had a questionable feeling. I knew the job was far from over, even if I had won a few games. In his case, he was still playing there with house money because he knew that even though he had collapsed and lost the last two games, he could still start over in the tiebreaks. « 

He managed to keep his head pretty steady in the flash, and so did I. certainly didn’t. – Magnus Carlsen

With Carlsen, the world champion has participated in five tournaments since the age of 30 without winning any of them: the Speed ​​Chess Championship, the Airthings Masters, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, the Opera Euro Rapid and this one.

« I thought I shouldn’t let the crowd down and let them see Wesley So versus Magnus Carlsen, » Giri joked before it was announced that this game would actually take place – but this time as a battle for the third place.

Giri himself said he was « really happy » to be in the final after beating So, the winner of two tournaments on this tour. The Dutchman’s second match win went back to a moment in the fourth game after three draws. In a slightly better position, so unusual, terrible.

« I was in such a controlled position and then he provoked this thrust from the king’s 22.f4 which weakens me slightly, » said Giri of what had happened earlier . It was also unusual that he further weakened his king with another pawn push, 26.g4, and later described him as « so dubious and so inappropriate ».

Black has several moves to keep his advantage there, but with one move, so everything was spoiled.

« I saw this mistake, » said Giri. « It’s such a ridiculous move, but I actually considered it for him and I was hoping he’d fall for it. »

Giri explained how these things happen at such a high level: « In these last, In the decisive rounds, nobody is himself. Even the greatest players sometimes become a shadow of themselves. « 

When he qualified for the semi-finals, Giri said his new plan was to win the tournament. After reaching the finals, he noted that his motivation was mostly external: « In all honesty, I should probably care about tournament wins because the people around me seem to care. »

What we’re going to see is a Final between two players whose next event may be crucial for their future careers: the Candidates Tournament. Your opening decisions in this final will definitely be affected.

As Nepomniachtchi put it, « We shouldn’t expect any big opening revelations from the two of us tomorrow, but OK who knows? »

The Magnus Carlsen Champions Chess Invitational Tour runs from March 13-21 on chess24. The preliminary phase was a 16-player rapid round robin (15 | 10). The top eight players achieved a six-day knockout consisting of two days of fast four-game matches that only lead to Blitz (5 | 3) and Armageddon (White has five minutes, Black has four without an increment) if a Das Ko -The game is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $ 220,000, with $ 60,000 for first place.

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