The Week in Chess
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
The chess24 Banter Series tookplace 1st to 29th September 2020. Magnus Carlsen has reached the final where he will play Wesley So. There were two places available in the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour starting later in the year and a $36,000 prize fund. Magnus Carlsen defeated Wesley So 5.5-3.5 in the final. continue ...
Sunday, September 27, 2020
The PRO Chess League was due to take place 7th January to 5th May 2020 but the final phase was postponed due to the Cornavirus. The final phase took place online 25th to 27th September. Teams from all over the world play online hosted by chess.com. Players including: Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Rados?aw Wojtaszek, Wei Yi, Harikrishna Pentala, Alireza Firouzja, Quang Liem Le, David Navara, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Li Chao, Alexei Shirov, Dr Bassem Amin, Sam Shankland, Gawain Jones, Nils Grandelius, Luke McShane, Wang Yue, Ray Robson, Vladimir Fedoseev etc In the final the Armenia Eagles won a very tight final against the favourites Saint Louis Archbishops 9.5-6.5 the teams were tied 6-6 after three of the four legs but in the final one Saint Louis were heavily defeated 3.5-0.5 with the first win by Tigran Petrosian seemingly being key, he scored 3.5/4 for the Eagles and was clearly the difference on the day. continue ...
Monday, September 21, 2020
The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament moved to the internet this year and was hosted by Lichess. Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura were most the favourites in a strong 10 player field. The others were: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Alireza Firouzja, Jeffrey Xiong and Pentala Harikrishna. The event turned out to be a battle between Wesley So - who won the Rapid section by half a point from Carlsen - and Magnus Carlsen who scored a point more in the blitz to tie with So, Nakamura finished in third place. continue ...
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
The Schachbundesliga Championship takes place in Karlsruhe Wed 16th Sep to Sun 20th Sep 2020. After the halting of the regular Bundesliga season some German teams were interested in playing over the board chess this year and others not. 8 teams will play for a new title. continue ...
Sunday, September 13, 2020
The Champions Showdown 9LX took place in online on Lichess 11th to 13th September 2019. This year the format was a 10 player Round Robin. Magnus Carlsen was the top seed and he played against Garry Kasparov for the first time since 2004. Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Hikaru Nakamura, Alireza Firouzja and Peter Svidler. They used a version of the Chess 960 variant in this rapid tournament. I don't have software that can display these games on my website but produced a PGN file for download. Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen tied for first place with 6/9. Most of the players will play Saint Louis' rapid and blitz event starting on Tuesday, again online. continue ...
Friday, September 11, 2020
The chess.com Junior Speed Chess Championship takes place Wed 9th Sep to Thu 8th Oct 2020. A mixture of blitz 5m+1spm, 3m+1spm and 10 games 1 minute bullet. GM Jeffery Xiong, Andrey Esipenko, Parham Maghsoodloo, Sam Sevian, Aleksey Sarana, Amin Tabatabaei, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Haik Martirosyan, Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa, Anton Smirnov, D Gukesh, Vincent Keymer, Arjun Erigaisi, Raunak Sadhwani and Andrew Tang. continue ...
Wednesday, September 09, 2020
The FIDE Candidates Chess Tournament took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia Sun 15th to Wednesday 25th March 2020 before being halted at after seven of the scheduled fourteen rounds due to the coronavirus crisis. The event is now due to resume on November 1st at the same venue. Players: Fabiano Caruana, Ding Liren, Wang Hao, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Anish Giri, Kirill Alekseenko and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.continue ...
Sunday, August 30, 2020
The FIDE Online Olympiad took place 24th July to August 30th. The four top divisions were played 21st to 23rd August and produced 8 qualifiers for the final knockout playoff stage 27th to 30th August. The final was contested between India and Russia. In the first of the two legs of the final all six games were drawn. In the second leg India lost 3 and drew 3 but two of those losses were almost simultaneous losses on time and it was determined these were caused by a worldwide technical issue. The President of FIDE Arkady Dvorkovich decided that the only fair thing to do was for the teams to share the title. While I agree this was probably the best decision in the circumstances it's becoming increasingly clear that such issues are a part of online play and affect some countries more than others. I believe that there needs to be detailed provision in the rules as to what to do in such circumstances. This article has all the games and results. continue ...
Friday, August 28, 2020
Magnus Carlsen won the Katara International Bullet Tournament on Wednesday 26th August 2020. Carlsen was joined by 15 qualifiers on Lichess for the final of this bullet chess (1 minute) tournament sponsored by the Qatari Chess Association. It was a 16 player knockout where there were matches of 12 games. Carlsen beat Rasmus Svane, Rauf Mamedov, then Bullet Legend Andrew "Penguin" Tang (where he lost the first three games, two to dropped pieces due to pre-moves in the opening) before asserting himself and then he beat Daniel Naroditsky in the final. In the final Naroditsky got off to a slow start losing three of the first four games, he was particularly unlucky in game three to find an amazing combination to win Carlsen's Queen only to discover that his Queen could be attacked and taken at the end, something neither player had time to see in advance. Naroditsky then won three in a row to level the match before losing the last three to lose 6.5-3.5. Naroditsky had earlier soundly beaten Alireza Firouzja in the semi-finals. The match was broadcast by Fiona Steil-Antoni on her twitch channel with Alex Astaneh Lopez. The final broadcast is below, the three Arena qualifiers are also available. I now have all the games from this final knockout phase and they all seem to be correct - there is one additional Firouzja-Paravyan than was necessary played and I also included that. continue ...
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Magnus Carlsen won his own Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final on the final day by drawing a final Armageddon game with black against Hikaru Nakamura. This was a fitting end to an extremely closely contested match and on a day where earlier Nakamura was one draw away from the title himself.
"It's extremely harsh on him, he played a great match and made it extremely difficult for me. It' rough, obviously." - Carlsen.
Carlsen said that he struggled to find a good rhythm to his play throughout the event, something that is usually required for good speed chess. Nakamura kept posing difficulties for Carlsen right to the very end and he would have been a very deserving winner. For it all to some down to a tie-break of two blitz games (both decisive) and finally an Armageddon meant that really no player proved their superiority but the rather brutal rules of the competition had their say. Nakamura's play impressed throughout and it's hard to imagine another player doing as well as he did against the World Champion.
Earlier Carlsen won a nice first rapid game but Nakamura struck back in the third, this game was the one that upset Carlsen the most he said afterwards. Then in the blitz Nakamura won the first game and Carlsen at that point didn't rate his chances very highly but he did come through to win the second game. Carlsen's success throughout the tour meant that he got to choose the colours in any Armageddon tie-breaks, in the Round 5 one he lost he made a rather impetuous decision to play with white and go for the win, this time he decided long before the final he was going to choose black. He also lost 19 seconds at the start of the Armageddon game by deciding to change from a large projection of the game to one on his laptop screen, obviously a rather strange thing to do as he was obviously aware as he told the story.
The event also managed to raise $50,000 for the charity Kiva. What now though? Carlsen will play the over the board event the 8th Altibox Norway Chess tournament 5th to 16th October with Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Alireza Firouzja and Aryan Tari, perhaps the only over the board superGM event of the year since the lock down apart from the Candidates tournament. Also the FIDE Online Olympiad which has been going on some time on Chess.com is reaching the phase where the top nations and players are now competing. But will there be other online events? I'm going to start playing the 4NCL Online soon, I'm not expecting normal chess to resume for some time. The same will surely be true for most players, it's time to recognise there will only be limited outlets for serious over the board chess for some time.continue ...
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Magnus Carlsen beat Hikaru Nakamura 3-1 in the sixth set of the "Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva" tournament. Carlsen injured himself exercising just half an hour before play and was low down on the screen as he clearly struggled to get comfortable. Whether this helped or hindered Carlsen I'm not sure, it might well have taken his mind off the must win situation he was in.
In game one Carlsen played very riskily giving up two pawns for an attack. Nakamura defended very well for a while but his 25...Rg8 was an error allowing 26.Rxc6! which should be decisive. Carlsen chased the black king into the middle of the board but his 32.Rd1? (32.Be4 is the most effective game ender) blew almost the entire advantage with one move and after 32....Rd6 Nakamura had good chances to save the game but he missed 33...b4 which would have been completely equal and only a few moves later the position became difficult again and 36....Re8? was the losing move and Carlsen won a few moves later. In game two Carlsen looked comfortable out of the opening, things however spiraled out of control at the end starting with 51...Kh5 rather than the controlling 51...Rc3 and Nakamura looked to be heading for a win before 62.Rc3? which looks to have been a mouse slip as 62.Rxc5 was winning. We'll have to have confirmation on that but if so this was most unfortunate. Carlsen took a short draw in game three and in the final game of the day where Carlsen only needed a draw with black he won as Nakamura - with nothing to lose - threw the kitchen sink at him - but he was the one who was going to be mated in the end.
Carlsen and Nakamura have alternated set wins all the way to the final scheduled day. There will be a winner on Thursday. Whoever wins this has been a terrific battle and a real test of stamina.continue ...
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Hikaru Nakamura only needs one more set to win the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final and the event might end a day early tomorrow. After Carlsen enjoyed his best day to level the match yesterday it was a quieter day all round in the rapid with Carlsen's best chance coming in the first rapid game where Nakamura drifted into trouble in a Queen endgame and briefly had a lost position if Carlsen had played 42...Qxc2 instead of 42...Qe1? Game two a Giuoco Piano, game three a Berlin Ruy and Game four a London were drawn any clear chances going begging. In the first blitz game Carlsen played the Alekhine's Defence, Nakamura said that although he reacted badly he thought it wasn't especially well prepared and he had good chances to be better out of the opening. Carlsen was winning for a long time but Nakamura resisted until move 58. In the second blitz game Nakamura had to win with black and managed to get an extremely messy King's Indian where he won a pawn and eventually the game after a long struggle. In the Armageddon Carlsen chose white - a little surprisingly perhaps - and never got anything with white and Nakamura was better pretty much throughout.
Carlsen now has to win tomorrow and on Thursday if he is to win his own tour series. This result was a huge step forward for Nakamura and it wouldn't surprise me if he managed to win the whole thing tomorrow.
Score Nakamura 3 Carlsen 2 (best of 7)continue ...
Monday, August 17, 2020
Magnus Carlsen enjoyed his best day of the final of the "Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva" tournament after beating Hikaru 2.5-1.5 on the fourth day to level things up at 2-2 with just a maximum of three sets to go. Even though Carlsen missed many golden opportunities in the first game he retained control throughout and took advantage of a serious miscalculation in game three and forced a draw in game four when in total control.
Game one saw Carlsen build up a decisive advantage quickly 17.e4 for instance was a vast improvement over the game. Carlsen was critical of 18.axb6 saying that 18.Qa3 was much better. Carlsen did have a winning advantage for a long time after that but good defence from Hikaru combined with time problems for Carlsen meant the game finished in a draw. Carlsen got an extremely comfortable draw in the Berlin in game 2 and said he felt a lot better after that. Game three was a quiet Italian game which suddenly became tactically extremely complicated with both sides pursuing tactical ideas almost independent of the other player. 26...Qxd3 would have left Carlsen a bit better but instead he was shocked by 26....Qxf2? which put Carlsen's King potentially in a nasty mating net but Carlsen could avoid mate and thus was winning. Carlsen took his time and calculated a way to a win. In the final game Carlsen played the novelty 6....Bg7 in the g6 Ruy Lopez and soon with the dynamic 12...c5 followed by 13...d5 achieved complete control of the board which he never surrendered - Carlsen said once he saw this idea he had no doubt it was the right one and played it with little additional thought. On move 34 instead of playing for a win Carlsen chose a forcing sequence that gave him the draw he needed.
Score Carlsen 2 Nakamura 2. Just three sets left.continue ...
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Hikaru Nakamura beat Magnus Carlsen 1.5-0.5 in a blitz tie-break in set three of their Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva match. Nakamura has continued to impress both with the level of his opening preparation and in how he has stayed ahead on the clock in pretty much every game. This was decisive today. Carlsen is not finding this easy at all having looked so impressive in the last weeks of the tour.
Game one was a Berlin Defence where Carlsen won a nice positional game but the decisive error was 22.Rad1 allowing 22...Qh3 after 22.Bxc5 or Kh2 it was all to play for. Carlsen took a short draw in game two and like yesterday for Nakamura it didn't pay off. In game three Nakamura came armed with a new approach and Carlsen seemingly just didn't appreciate the danger the bishops of opposite colours posed to him until too late, in spite of being a pawn up Carlsen was just lost because he could hardly protect a single pawn, a very strange misjudgment from him. Game four saw Carlsen reach for the London System and Nakamura seemed quite comfortably placed as black even after Carlsen gave up a pawn to sideline a knight the game still didn't depart much from equality - this defensive performance pleased Nakamura the most of all the games today. In the first blitz game Carlsen made a very basic oversight and dropped a pawn and with it the game as he had no compensation whatsoever. In the final game Carlsen built up a winning advantage but got way behind on the clock and in the end blew all the advantage although after that he missed a final winning opportunity.
Score Nakamura 2 Carlsen 1. Tomorrow the fourth game of the final will take place on Monday 17th August at 3pm UK time.continue ...
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Magnus Carlsen looked relieved to have won the second set and levelled the best of 7 set of "Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva" against Hikaru Nakamura. Carlsen had a torrid day being roundly defeated in game one and being much worse in game three for at least one move before taking his chance to equalise the match. A couple of errors from Nakamura in the second blitz game completed Carlsen's win.
In game one both Carlsen and Nakamura blitzed out moves in the unusual Vienna Variation of the Queen's Gambit that was played yesterday, even after Magnus' novelty 8.a4 Nakamura kept going too. After 17...Qd5 it was clear black was doing fine and after 19.b4 followed by 20.Ba3 (20.Nxb3 was about equal) black was better, Carlsen's 22.Rxg7 was already desperate (the computer's want him to give up the exchange with Rxb6 - not a decision many humans would make) Carlsen did manage to open up Nakamura's King but only at the cost of a huge amount of material and after avoiding a repetition Nakamura made his King safe and then used the b-pawn to win that Carlsen sacrificed all the way back on move 20 (there seems to have been a deep computer draw found but no human would have played it). Game two saw Hikaru play a well known sequence for a quick (almost instant) draw with white, whether this was clever or not is unclear, it nearly paid off for him but in the end did not. In game three Carlsen chose a highly unusual setup in the English but after his clever-clever 12.Bb2 he was hit by the sequence 12...Bf5 13.Qc2 d3 when black was a lot better - but he should have played 15...h5 ("I thought I was completely lost" Carlsen said of this move afterwards) after his 15...Bg4 the position was about equal and Carlsen said that after 16.d4 "I was already feeling a whole lot better" - then Hikaru blundered with 20...Bf7? losing a pawn - he was clearly extremely cross with himself but after getting down to only a minute and a half left on the clock he found a strong sequence of moves that at least made Carlsen work for it but in the end there was no escape and he won in 59 moves. Game four was an exact repeat of game two with another short draw taking the match into a blitz tie-break - such things are clearly controversial with some people but Carlsen was fine with it and he on occasion has used similar tactics in this series. In the first blitz game there was a sharp Queen's Gambit which quickly settled down to a question as to whether Carlsen's Knight on d6 was a major asset or not, once it was exchanged a draw was more or less inevitable. In the second blitz game there was a Berlin which settled down to a manoeuvring game - with 25...Be5 Carlsen equalised but Nakamura tried to keep things going 27.Qxd7 was a safe draw, after 27.Rxd7? things were getting tricky and Carlsen was much better and 29.Qe4?? dropped mate or a rook and ended the game. Carlsen
Carlsen will be relieved to have got level at 1-1 but Nakamura is still giving him a lot of problems and today definitely could have gone the other way. Set 3 is on Suday 16th August 2020 3pm BST.continue ...
Friday, August 14, 2020
The first day of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals Benefiting Kiva was won by Hikaru Nakamura 2.5-1.5. This was a day of extremely complicated chess - Nakamura seemed to win in several key areas, his openings went very well and he stayed ahead on the clock while making very few clear errors in positions that were extremely hard to judge. It will be interesting if Carlsen tries to change the type of games they play tomorrow.
Game one perhaps set the tone and was a sharp Najdorf Sicilian with at first Nakamura pressing as white but later Carlsen was better but extremely short of time, the game finished with a repetition. Game two was a sharp Queen's Gambit Vienna where Carlsen seemed to be pressing and then gave up the exchange for a position where he probably assumed only he was pressing. 35.Re4 was a nothing move played in time trouble and indicated Carlsen was short of ideas, it also introduced problems Carlsen couldn't solve and Nakamura's passive rook became active and won the game. Nakamura slightly varied his approach in the Najdorf for game 3 and he built up a very strong position, Carlsen found some very creative ideas to keep his position going and even if the computer points out wins for Nakamura they were hard to find. Carlsen looked disappointed at the end when Nakamura found a way to liquidate his pawns for a draw but most likely this was the right result. Carlsen didn't get much from the opening in his must win game four but a bishops of opposite colours with queens on proved very complex and Carlsen has winning chances but most likely Nakamura held without actually being lost.
Score (best of 7) Nakamura 1-0 Carlsen. Day two of the final Saturday 15th August 2020 3pm BST.
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Magnus Carlsen beat Ding Liren 3 sets to 1 to reach the final of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva which starts on Friday against Hikaru Nakamura. However after a very nice win in game one Carlsen struggled for the rest of the day and it really looked like Ding would take the match into a fifth and final set until a serious blunder ended his chances.
Magnus Carlsen won the first game in fine style playing almost flawlessly against Ding Liren's rather risky variation of the semi-slav. Carlsen chose the King's Indian in game two and was under pressure throughout and then Ding found the killing 24.Bxh6 after which Carlsen's position fell apart. AFter this Carlsen admitted his play became rather shaky. In game three with white Carlsen had to save the an endgame a pawn down which he eventually managed to do. In the final rapid game Carlsen chose the Benoni against the Fianchetto but was shocked by 6.Be3! from Ding offering a pawn. When Carlsen didn't take it he was on the back foot and in a lost position. Somehow Carlsen managed to trade down to a draw in mutual time trouble and the rapid portion was drawn 2-2. Carlsen looked far more confident in the blitz and achieved a dominant if not winning position with white but time shortage caused him to have to take a draw. In the final game Carlsen missed the tactic 26.Bxc5 winning material but he found some tactical chances and Ding returned the favour missing that after 32.h4?? (32.Ba3 is best) Qa8 it is Carlsen with fatal threats and he made those count.continue ...
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
The third day of potentially five of the semifinals of the "Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva" saw Hikaru Nakamura qualify for the final with a third set win. Magnus Carlsen took the lead for the first time in his match against Ding with a 2.5-0.5 victory and now leads 2-1. Ding will have to win tomorrow in order to take the match into a final day. Nakamura gets a couple of days to prepare for his opponent which he said he will assume will be Carlsen for the moment.
Magnus Carlsen took the lead after winning two sharp Sicilians in a row against Ding Liren. In game one Carlsen drew reasonably easily with black in a King's Indian Fianchetto which finished in a draw by repetition. Game two Carlsen was surprised when Ding switched to a Najdorf Sicilian. Carlsen played a marvelous positional game and after 22...Bh4 23.g5! Carlsen was pretty much winning. Carlsen wanted to play 27.Bxf7+ which indeed is winning but couldn't see his way to the end but kept an advantage for a while but after 37.Rc3 the position was about equal but after Ding failed to find 38....Nc5 or 39...Nc5 he quickly got a lost position again from which he could not recover. Game three was also a Sicilian with Carlsen as black, again Carlsen had much the better of it but for the error 19...Qc7? when if Ding had found 20.Nb3! he would have had good winning chances. As it was Carlsen won with a crushing attack to win the set and take a 2-1 lead.
Hikaru Nakamura reached the final of the competition with a 2.5-1.5 win against Daniil Dubov. Nakamura was in slight trouble in game one but once he held this he seemed to be in charge of the rest of the match. In game two Nakamura was better but settled for a draw, in game three Nakamura took the initiative around move 37 and won a nice endgame. The final game finished in a draw by repetition in a winning position for Nakamura. All-in-all a surprising 3-0 win for Nakamura who said that he felt his big mistake in losing the Lindores Abbey final to Dubov was continuing to press when he'd lost the advantage. He also admitted to playing much more solidly and technically against Dubov in the hope of suppressing his creativity. Nakamura does not expect such an approach to work against Carlsen should he play him.continue ...
Carlsen strikes back with a dominant performance on day two of his Tour Final match against Ding - Day 2
Monday, August 10, 2020
Magnus Carlsen made an emphatic recovery after his loss of the set on day one of the "Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva" tournament by beating Ding Liren 2.5-0.5 to level the match one set each. Meanwhile Hikaru Nakamura took a giant stride towards the final by winning a second mini-match against Daniil Dubov.
Carlsen said he was surprised by the specifics of how Ding Liren played the opening in game one but he had a positional idea which he executed and just when he thought Ding was close to equalising Ding quickly lost which he thought was "a bit weird". Indeed it is rather hard to put a finger on a specific mistake but the rather strange 32...Kg8 seems to have been the last chance rather than 32...Kg6 as black was clearly lost after that. In game two as black Carlsen decided initially to play solidly in a Giuoco Piano but then sacrificed a pawn when the opportunity arose and then he executed a rather stunning plan crowned by a positional exchange sacrifice that left Ding's position in tatters. Ding resigned still an exchange up but with Carlsen about to have three pawns for it - with the power to add. The final game three was a King's Indian where Carlsen maintained control and Ding eventually had to settle for a draw by repetition and the loss of the set.
Hikaru Nakamura took a 2 sets to 0 lead by winning 3-1 today. Nakamura was pressing for a win in game 1 but he credited Dubov for defending very well and holding the draw. Nakamura thought the second game was key, Dubov had a very nice endgame edge, but Nakamura held the draw relatively comfortably, a significant boost for him. For a while game three was an unclear Sveshnikov but black didn't quite equalise out of the opening, Nakamura thought 29...Bf5?! was the start of real trouble "the move doesn't have a concept" he said and also it blocked the rook on the f-file. White has one clear plan, to queen the b-pawn and after trading off the light squared bishops Nakamura managed to use the b-pawn to win. In the final game four Dubov played an unusual variation of the Vienna with an early d4 but Nakamura accepted an offered pawn and never seemed in serious trouble.
Dubov now has to win the remaining three sets, possible in this format but also very hard. Nakamura has shown signs of very good opening preparation for this final, something he didn't seem to have at the start. Can he reach the final tomorrow?
Day 2 score: Carlsen 1-1 Ding and Nakamura 2-0 Dubov.continue ...
Sunday, August 09, 2020
The first day of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final benefiting Kiva saw many decisive games and both matches go to a blitz tie-break and one go to an Armageddon. Carlsen plays Ding Liren and Hikaru Nakamura plays Daniil Dubov in five set semi-finals - the winners will play for the title over seven sets.
Carlsen has been increasingly dominant as the series has gone on but today he was beaten by Ding Liren after an Armageddon tie-break. Carlsen was roundly defeated in the first rapid game of the match where Carlsen ended up with a poor Sicilian and Ding gradually ground him down. Game two was a London where Carlsen found a very creative pawn sacrifice to leave Ding's King unable to castle Kingside and when he did eventually castle Queen side his position was still very difficult and after 19...Ne4? Carlsen brought the point home easily. Game three was affected by a software glitch where Carlsen didn't receive Ding's move and when it was resumed Carlsen quickly got into major trouble only to be allowed a draw by perpetual check. Carlsen decided to draw the final game with white and take the match to blitz which he did rather easily. The first blitz game was again affected by issues and this time Carlsen lost on time in a position that was at least equal. Carlsen won another London System to take the match into an Armageddon tie-break where Carlsen chose white probably because he had done so well with the London but Ding switched systems against it and Carlsen was struggling throughout and a number of tactical errors was exploited in exemplary style and Ding gave perpetual check to win this set.
All four rapid games were decisive in the match between Hikaru Nakamura and Daniil Dubov. Nakamura called the first two games quite poor - he suffered a complete opening fiasco (10...Nxd5 is just wrong you have to take with the Queen) and he resigned in 17 moves. Game two was a wild Sicilian where Dubov was winning at various points according to the computer but after 32...Ke7? (32....Ra8! with the idea of Qa7 and mate is the rather special idea the computer came up with as a win for black) it turned out Nakamura had a winning attack instead. Game three was a very fine game indeed from Nakamura with black playing a Benoni structure and eventually dominating the whole board without allowing Dubov a sniff of a chance. In game four Nakamura tried to shut out the match with white but eventually drifted into trouble and Dubov won a fine endgame. The first blitz game was a well played drawn. In the second blitz game Dubov was initially better but after Nakamura found a nice sequence to gain the two bishops he quickly took over the initiative and had unstoppable passed pawns on the queen side, Dubov had four connected passed pawns on the Kingside but they barely moved.
Summary Day 1 Ding took the lead after he got the draw he needed in a final Armageddon tie-break vs Carlsen. Nakamura beat Dubov 3.5-2.5 by winning the second blitz game - only the first blitz game was draw the rest of the games were decisive.
The second of up to five sets will be played on Monday at 3pm UK time.continue ...