Carlsen Wins 1st Classical Game Versus Nepomniachtchi, Leads Grand Chess Tour
Magnus Carlsen presumably preparing the most deadly flying crane kick since Karate Kid. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

Carlsen Wins 1st Classical Game Versus Nepomniachtchi, Leads Grand Chess Tour

SamCopeland
NM SamCopeland
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89 | Chess Event Coverage

Which top-10 players has Magnus Carlsen never beaten in classical chess?

Until today, the answer was Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. Now only Ding Liren is unscathed.

Even as the round was just beginning, fans on Twitter were anticipating the historic nature of the opportunity.

Carlsen's victory against the current Russian number one came surprisingly quickly. On move 27 of a seemingly locked position, Carlsen played the aggressive break ...f5!?, offering a pawn sacrifice and giving "Nepo" two options. The correct choice proved to be ...exf5! when the infiltration with ...Qe3+! could be tolerated. Instead, Nepo played ...gxf5? and lost nearly on the spot.

GOTD analysis from GM Robert Hess

Carlsen's win puts him within five Elo points of his all-time rating high (2882) and vaults him into clear first place in the Grand Chess Tour.

The second most exciting game of the round could on quick perusal be interpreted as a fairly simple draw. However, on move 21, Sergey Karjakin was gifted a unique opportunity. Can you see what he should have played?

In a classic case of chess blindness, neither Wesley So nor Sergey Karjakin saw the puzzle solution that the chess world was screaming, and the game soon reached a draw by perpetual.

Wesley So, Grand Chess Tour Croatia
"Hopefully in my next few games I will learn from this and look out for rook sacrifices." — So | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour.

This author has sometimes been in trouble for pushing some drawn games to a footnote, but when all four of the remaining games were drawn without the evaluation ever being higher than 0.5 (and rarely close to it) after move 15, it seems fair to say that the games might be considered a tad soporific. Caruana vs. Giri did feature a slight imbalance, but neither player was ever in position to win.

Replay these games in our new multi-game viewer, and let us know what you think!

2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour | Round 7 Results and Standings
Grand Chess Tour Croatia Round 7 Standings
Grand Chess Tour Croatia Round 7 Standings
Graphic: Spectrum Studios.
The 2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour takes place June 26 to July 8 at the Novinarski Dom in Zagreb, Croatia. This is one of the two classical events on the tour this year. The time control is a new one with 130 minutes for each player with a 30-second delay from move one.

The games start at 4:30 p.m. local time (CEST), which is 10:30 a.m. Eastern and 7:30 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal with daily commentary by GM Robert Hess.

Watch GCT Croatia Round 7 Commentary | My last day of coverage from GMHess on www.twitch.tv

Round seven coverage by GM Robert Hess.

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