Carlsen Wins Chessable Masters As Giri Stumbles At Last Hurdle
Yet another tournament victory for Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Wins Chessable Masters As Giri Stumbles At Last Hurdle

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

Without losing a single match, GM Magnus Carlsen clinched the $45,000 first prize at the Chessable Masters on Saturday. The world champion admitted that his opponent showed better chess on the last day, but GM Anish Giri, who won $27,000, again failed to make the most of his chances.

Even when he's having a bad day, the world champion is tremendously difficult to beat.

"Frankly, he just played a lot better than I did in the last three games," Carlsen said afterward. "I was lucky to escape."

"I had so many chances today. It was really a shame not to have made it at least to 2-2," said Giri.

Anish Giri
Close but no cigar for Anish Giri. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The day started so smoothly for the world champion that few would have predicted the later problems he would run into. That first game—eventually the only decisive encounter of the day—was nothing less than a masterpiece.

Carlsen understandably didn't want to go into too much detail about his preparation, but he did say that it included 21.h4. That was several moves after he had played the thematic pawn sacrifice 17.d5 exd5 18.e5, mostly known from a famous Polugaevsky-Tal game but played much earlier by a young GM Paul Keres, as "pattern watcher" IM Arthur van de Oudeweetering pointed out.

You'll recognize the structure of a Semi-Tarrasch. Giri decided to play that solid opening after he hadn't achieved much against it with the white pieces in his match with GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Giri felt his reply to the pawn sacrifice wasn't great and also noted that he knew White's idea in this particular position.

"Actually the first game was quite sloppy on my part," he said. "I had it also in my notes. I have a suspicion maybe I wanted to go 18...Nd7 but to be fair, I looked at it a while ago, and when I prepared for Ian I forgot about this idea."

What followed was a masterfully conducted, swift attack by Carlsen, who pointed out how tough Black's task is: "In general, such a position when you're Black without knowing what to do with such little time, I would say, is practically impossible to play."

GM Ben Finegold analyzed the game as well.

Rather unexpectedly, from this point onward Carlsen started to play worse and worse, while Giri gained more and more confidence.

The second game actually was still fine from Carlsen, except for one horrendous blunder that went unnoticed by Giri. He saw it only when he quickly played through the moves afterward with an engine running and would later say:

"The most outrageous thing is that instead of castles, I actually briefly thought about 14.Qh6." In other words, he had seen the idea a move earlier but forgot about it when it was decisive.

Instead of deciding the game basically on move 15, Giri had to be a bit careful in a Grunfeld endgame that was drawn on move 44.

Magnus Carlsen
Carlsen dodged an early bullet. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Game three saw a dominating Giri, who easily equalized in a line of the English that Carlsen plays a lot and soon got an advantage. The Dutchman controlled the position but couldn't find a good way to create winning chances. It's not clear whether Black was really winning, but it could have been very unpleasant for Carlsen:

The fourth game, however, was the most disappointing of all for Dutch chess fans. Giri built up a winning position with excellent play while Carlsen had to remain uncharacteristically passive, and as he found a few strong attacking moves, Giri was completely crushing. Until he blundered.

"It was a huge pity. In the last game I just relaxed a little. It's obvious I'm crushing there in the end, and I'm relaxing," Giri said, adding that at that point he felt he already "deserved" to win the game. "I already passed all the hurdles. It's just time to clinch it, and then I miss this 35...Qe2 out of nowhere."

"The fact that I got so many chances... I deserved more, for sure." Giri said. "But still, I shouldn't also dwell on it too much, I guess. Once I forget all the missed opportunities of today, I'll probably be quite happy with the [overall tournament] performance."

Carlsen said that Giri had impressed him a lot and that today was not his day: "It was certainly a performance to forget, but [laughs] that's what happens sometimes. Today, as you could all see, at some point it became about survival."

The Chessable Masters ran June 20-July 5 on chess24 as part of the Magnus Carlsen Tour. The prize fund was $150,000 with the first prize of $45,000. The time control was 15 minutes for all moves with a 10-second increment after each move. No draw offers were allowed before move 40.

Chessable Masters final bracket

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