In the Age of COVID chess has been reinvented. In March (I think it was) the Candidates Tournament was dramatically ended a few rounds in and everyone wondered “what next”. Enter Magnus Carlsen entrepreneur. With his star power, he has been getting himself a piece of the action. He owns something like 11 percent of Chess 24 a website which provides information and live televised commentary on chess as it happens. It does so on a freemium model. It’s free unless you want to get some extra features one of which is having a chance to play Magnus and others among the Great and the Good of chess when they play ‘banter blitz’ which is fun if you like that kind of thing. They comment on the destruction as they beat patzers and damn good people – and occasionally get beaten spectacularly as here.
Then Magnus came up with the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour which is a series of online tournaments among the best ten or so players in the world and some veterans for interest sake. The format is best of four ‘rapid’ games – in which each player gets 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. If that doesn’t produce a result there are two blitz games of 5 minutes and (I think) 3 seconds a move. And if that doesn’t work there’s a game of armageddon in which white gets five minutes and must win to win the exchange and black four and wins if they draw or win.
In any event, it’s been great fun for chess tragics. Magnus has been in each of these tourneys and they’ve been very exciting, rapid chess rewarding more aggressive games – though. The final has turned out to be between Magnus and American Hiruku Nakamura who’s in and out of the top ten in classical chess but is arguably better than Magnus at blitz and perhaps at rapid.
He’s been playing incredibly well getting Magnus into lines he’s uncomfortable in, getting ahead of him on time and putting huge pressure on. The score is 3-2 in a best of seven match, so the tourney will be settled with a Nakamura win tonight – or will go to a final ‘set’ if Magnus wins tonight.
Some of the games have been stunning such as this one in which Magnus gets Hikuru into serious trouble, and Hikuru finds a way to force Magnus to sacrifice a rook and then his queen to keep his chances alive – without doing so Hiruku’s mating threats start dominating. Amazing he could conjure such threats so quickly out of such a bad position. Anyway if you want to play any of this together with computer analysis of the positions, this link will do it for you. And here’s the game I spoke about.
Next game starts in 29 minutes!
Oops – pressed ‘save’ rather than ‘publish’. Here it is after the first game of the evening. Another rip snorter.