Carlsen Wins, Then Flags vs Nakamura In Fischer Random Day 4
After a dramatic day at the Fischer random (chess960) world championship match Magnus Carlsen still leads by two points. He started with a convincing win vs Hikaru Nakamura but then lost Monday's second game, trying to win a RB-vs-R endgame until his time ran out.
Carlsen left fans and commentators in shock as he let his clock run down to zero in a position where he could have claimed a draw at any moment. Chief arbiter Hans Olav Lahlum told Chess.com that he would have declared the game drawn instantly.
This remarkable loss of control by Carlsen came shortly after he seemed to have nailed the whole match. He had won game seven convincingly, and also reached a promising position in the next. A four-point lead would have been an insurmountable hurdle for Nakamura in the remaining eight faster games, which will count half compared to the first eight.
Instead of virtually clinching the match today, Carlsen has some work to do tomorrow. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
In the first game of the day Carlsen had slowly outplayed his opponent from a RNKNQBBR position, considered to be even more equal than the regular starting position (if we may believe the Norwegian supercomputer). This time there were no big spikes in the evaluation; Nakamura's play was simply not great, and Carlsen did well.
A smooth victory for Carlsen in today's first game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
From the same starting position, the eighth game of the match saw an absolutely wild opening phase with Black starting with seven pawn moves, and White making five out of his first six moves with pawns as well. Nakamura's play looked a bit like the gambit named after Pal Benko, the Hungarian-American grandmaster who was the inventor of shuffle chess long before Bobby Fischer came with his version.
However, Carlsen countered this gambit wonderfully and after 12 moves it seemed like White was playing regular chess while Black was still stuck in a Fischer random position, as commentator IM Anna Rudolf aptly put it. Commentator GM Yasser Seirawan also noted the difference in harmony.
When Carlsen sacrificed his bishop on a6, Black seemed busted, but after a deep think Nakamura found the computer's best defensive move, and he kept on defending tremendously well until the players reached the theoretically drawn RB-vs-R endgame.
Nakamura is showing himself to be an excellent defender in this match. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carlsen had one minute and 17 seconds left on the clock vs 10:39 for Nakamura at the start of that endgame, on move 69. Ironically, it was on move 119 when the Norwegian flagged, basically the moment when Nakamura could have claimed the draw.
With only a few seconds left on the clock (without increment!) Carlsen twice made a "silent draw offer" by offering the trade of rooks. Nakamura "declined" twice by not trading the rooks—as if he demanded a verbal draw offer.
What exactly happened in Carlsen's mind after that is unclear, but somehow he wasn't capable of stopping the clock and taking the draw. He just played on, as his clock went 3, 2, 1... 0.
A clip from the live broadcast with Carlsen losing on time.
This was the last day of slow chess; tomorrow at the same time the second half of the match starts. Eight faster games will be played, and this time the normal scoring system will be used. Carlsen needs 3.5/8 to clinch the match. From a match perspective, what happened today is good news. We're bound to see a very exciting day tomorrow.
Nakamura-Carlsen Fischer random match, day four.
Sunil Weeramantry and Henrik Carlsen, stepfather and father of the players, entering the venue together. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Smiles on the players' faces when they see today's starting position. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Not every day you see a game starting with 1.f4 f6. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carlsen on tilt, after Nakamura refused to trade rooks and end the game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The players awaiting their NRK interviewer. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Carlsen's sister Ellen giving an autograph to a young fan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Thorough live analysis of game seven in the cafeteria. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Norwegian GM Simen Agdestein visited our studio today... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
...and so did GM Jon Ludvig Hammer. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
A young chess fan visiting the match today and playing some chess himself. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.