Pandemic changing chess’ elite hierarchy?
Carlsen: Is he burned out?
Playing online 24/7 for virtually all of the past 18 months can not be good for anyone’s chess. Especially if you are Magnus Carlsen, with a world title match just months away. Carlsen’s team has good reason to be worried.
The above tables show the standings after yesterday’s sixth round. The Norway Chess Tournament (Stavanger) has a unique scoring system: a win in a classic time control game is worth 3 points.
If the game is a draw, then the two players must play an Armageddon game (White 10 minutes, Black 7 minutes) where a win counts as 1.5 points and a loss 1 point. As we can see, in the Classic chess (lower table) Carlsen has 50%, finding himself in the middle of the field.
Things improve somewhat when we add the Armageddon results, but not by much. The Hungarian star Rapport finds himself way ahead.
Despite what was widely spun in the chess media as a brilliant win in a delicate ending by Carlsen in yesterday’s encounter with Firouzja, the truth is less flattering. And certainly not inspiring, except to the most die-hard of Carlsen fans.
Firouzja had a bad day at the office. The world champion got nothing from the opening and soon found himself in a pure Bishop ending with no realistic practical chances.
Most commentators thought that the result was clear already as early as move 25.
Carlsen needed luck — and a lot of it — which he got when his opponent missed several clear draws towards the end of the playing session.
The correct way(s) to hold the ending was published by a number of grandmasters hours after the game ended. I recommend the reader to take a look at videos by gm Mathew Cornette (french) and gm Rafael Leitao (brazilian). Very instructive!
I present the game below, with a few notes to indicate where Firouzja could have drawn.
gm Carlsen,M – gm Firouzja,A
Photos by L.Oootes.