Carlsen Dominates vs. Maghsoodloo In Speed Chess Match

Carlsen Dominates vs. Maghsoodloo In Speed Chess Match

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GM Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) returned to with a crushing 24-5 win vs. GM Parham Maghsoodloo (@Parhamov) in the 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event. The next match between GM Alireza Firouzja and GM Vladimir Fedoseev starts on Wednesday, November 4, at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.

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If Carlsen wanted to make a statement in his first match of the championship, that certainly worked. He was the big favorite to win against Maghsoodloo, but to do it with a 19-point margin was beyond the expectations of most fans.

Part of this was the result of Maghsoodloo clearly "tilting" at some point. The score was still tied 2.5-2.5 after five games when Carlsen won an incredible 11 games in a row.

That was not a record in Speed Chess Championship history. Last year, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi also won 11 straight games (in fact, two times in one match) against GM Elina Danielian. The record was set in 2018 by GM Hikaru Nakamura, who won 18 consecutive games (10 in the 3+1 phase followed by eight bullet games) vs. GM Hou Yifan

The live broadcast of the match.

The match started with a small shock in the very first game. Carlsen's mouse slipped as early as move five: he went 5.a4 instead of the theoretical 5.a3 in a Nimzo-Indian. While slightly worse, he steered the game towards a draw.

Carlsen: "I was not too worried. I am probably just a little bit worse after this move, so I thought if I continue to play normally after that, it would be OK. Obviously, it's not an ideal start to the match, but I had worse starts in these sorts of matches."

As said, Maghsoodloo did quite well early in the match. In fact, Carlsen felt his opponent was more in control: "I would say I didn't play so well at the start. He was sort of dictating those games. I haven't really played so much blitz online in a long time, so I needed some time to get going."

The second game shows that Maghsoodloo's play was on par with Carlsen's in that early phase:

Carlsen won game three, but Maghsoodloo won game five to tie the score. After that, the Iranian meltdown started.

One reason for Maghsoodloo's troubles was his indecisiveness; he repeatedly got in time trouble and in several games, he seemed to just forget about the clock. Also, dropping a full knight like in game 12 didn't help.

After a few wins in a row for Carlsen, the crowd in the stadium started shouting "10! 10!" The world champion delivered and even won 11 straight before Maghsoodloo could get a draw in game 17. Here's the 10th victory, where Carlsen's calculation engine was clearly warmed up:

The first draw Maghsoodloo got, after getting punched so many times, came in a funny way. At first, there was nothing to laugh about for the Iranian as he spoiled a winning position, but it was rather entertaining when Carlsen voluntarily went into a pawn ending being a pawn down to demonstrate his knowledge of distant opposition.

This was exactly where the other Iranian grandmaster Alireza Firouzja had messed up last month at Norway Chess. As Carlsen got the draw, both he and his opponent were laughing on camera.

After the match, Carlsen said: "Frankly I didn't feel that I ever found much of a rhythm; it was just a bunch of chaotic games that were somehow going my way." Game 26 (bullet) must have been one example he was referring to as he blundered a piece twice—and his body language showed that he noticed during the game.

In the very last game, Carlsen decided to have some fun in the opening, and his opponent joined along.

"I think this match format is very difficult to handle because once it starts going south, then it's all psychological," said Carlsen. "At some point, if you stopped and played a different opponent, the result might be very different, but since you continue to play the same guy and you suffer against them, everything becomes a lot more difficult."

Maghsoodloo: "I had so many good positions which were close to a win, but I [spoiled] them very badly; I didn't make a draw but I lost them. When you do this for a lot of positions, you completely lose control of the match."

Maghsoodloo won $344.83 based on win percentage; Carlsen won $2,000 for the victory plus $1,655.17 on percentage, totaling $3,655.17. He moves on to the quarterfinals, where he will play the winner of GM Anish Giri and GM Vladislav Artemiev.

Asked for his favorite next opponent, Carlsen replied: "I'd rather play Artemiev. I think he's by far the strongest blitz player of those two."

All games

Here's the remaining schedule for the round of 16:

  • November 4, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Firouzja-Fedoseev
  • November 8, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: So-Abdusattorov
  • November 11, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Nepomniachtchi-Aronian
  • November 12, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Nakamura-Martirosyan
  • November 15, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Caruana-Duda
  • November 16, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Giri-Artemiev

2020 speed chess bracket
The 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event is a knockout tournament among 16 of the best grandmasters in the world who will play for a $100,000 prize fund, double the amount of last year. The tournament will run November 1-December 13, 2020 on Each individual match will feature 90 minutes of 5+1 blitz, 60 minutes of 3+1 blitz, and 30 minutes of 1+1 bullet chess.

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