Magnus Carlsen Again Only Winner In Bilbao

Magnus Carlsen Again Only Winner In Bilbao

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

For the third day in a row, Magnus Carlsen was the only winner at the Bilbao Masters in Bilbao. With a quick win versus Wesley So against the Berlin Defense, he increased his lead to three points.

“I still missed many things but they mostly remained on the surface,” Magnus Carlsen commented about yesterday's game. He won, but it wasn't perfect. The win against Wei Yi wasn't flawless either, but how he defeated Wesley So bears the utmost scrutiny by the self-critical world champion.

Carlsen's play is getting better by the day, as he said himself in an interview with Norwegian reporter Tarjei Svensen, and combined with his clear lead in the standings, the Basque future is looking bright for the Norwegian.

A cynic might say the game was so short that Carlsen didn't have time to make mistakes, but there's a bit of truth in it as well: So hardly got out of the opening before he was already in big trouble. 

Wesley So had to resign after 26 moves.

In a 4.d3 Berlin, the U.S. number three chose the wrong square for his queen on move 13. He then had to correct the mistake, but the loss of tempo was fatal. His king had to remain in the center, and as soon as the game was opened up, Black was dead lost. This was the smoothest of victories for Carlsen so far.

Commentator and journalist Leontxo Garcia said to Carlsen that he had visited football club Athletic Bilbao earlier that day to talk about possible synergies between chess strategy and football. When asked about the similarities between the two sports, the world champion told a short story so typical to his style of humor:

“Last year I had a meeting with the coach of the Norwegian national football team. It was one week before their match in and against Croatia. We had a nice meeting, talked about some different strategies. Norway lost 5-1.”

The post-mortem with L-R Santiago González de la Torre, Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen and Leontxo Garcia.

Yet again the other two games ended in draws, with one being rather short. Wei Yi and Sergey Karjakin needed a bit less than two hours to split the point in a Catalan/Bogo-Indian. Karjakin, who followed a recent game by his compatriot Evgeny Tomashevsky, said: “In the opening I tried to play a very principled line. I didn't remember it exactly, but I did remember that Black was fine.”

The Russian grandmaster explained that it's important that Black will always win one of the opponent's bishops. If not, White would certainly have the advantage. As it went, it was not only completely equal, but it was also hard for both sides to avoid an immediate draw. “It was quite a funny repetition,” said Karjakin. “I think Black has many ways to play. What I did is also very logical.”

Carlsen checks out the opening in Wei-Karjakin. | Photo Bilbao Masters.

The fourth round was in fact the shortest so far. The game between Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri was last to finish, but it still only took 2 hours and 51 minutes. “It was a very difficult game,” said Nakamura. “Many games have a few critical moments, but in this one everything was critical after move 18 or so.”

It started as a Semi-Slav which looked a bit like a game Aronian-Shirov from 2010, played in the same tournament (though in Shanghai). In today's encounter Black allowed a doubled f-pawn in front of his king, in return for a strong bishop and nicely centralized pieces. Black's activity even allowed Giri to give up his h-pawn, and after the rooks were traded, a perpetual was almost inevitable.

The playing in the Campos Eliseos hall as seen from above. | Photo Bilbao Masters.

2016 Bilbao Masters | Round 4 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2855 2947 0 3 3 3 9.0/4 9.00
2 Nakamura,Hikaru 2787 2865 3 1 1 1 6.0/4 14.00
3 Giri,Anish 2785 2757 1 1 1 1 4.0/4 7.50
4 So,Wesley 2770 2712 0 1 1 1 3.0/4 6.50
5 Wei,Yi 2696 2711 0 1 1 1 3.0/4 6.50
6 Karjakin,Sergey 2773 2688 0 1 1 1 3.0/4 5.00

The fifth round on Sunday will see the games So-Wei, Karjakin-Nakamura, and Giri-Carlsen.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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