Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals: Carlsen Levels Score
Magnus Carlsen leveled the score. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals: Carlsen Levels Score

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen once again leveled the score in his match with GM Hikaru Nakamura, the final of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals benefiting Kiva. Carlsen won a sharp third game as Nakamura committed a big tactical error.

How to watch?
The games of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals can be found here as part of our live events platform. IM Levy Rozman, IM Anna Rudolf, and IM Eric Rosen are providing daily commentary on Nakamura's Twitch channel at 7:00 a.m. Pacific / 15:00 Central Europe.

The best-of-seven match has suddenly become a best-of-three, between two grandiose gladiators who stubbornly keep on kicking each other, falling down and then getting up again. This final leg of the Magnus Carlsen Tour, which started on April 18, will go right down to the wire.

"Obviously, after yesterday, this was a must-have. It only remains to be seen if I can win two sets in a row at some point. If my math is correct that will give me a total win," Carlsen said with a smile. 

The world champion was relieved. He hadn't been under pressure in the openings and on the clock as much as in the first three days. Asked why that happened, he said:

"It's because he's playing well, I think. I think in all of these tournaments, in general, I've been burning a lot of time but especially here he's posing me a lot of problems and there have been several games where I'm thinking I got a win, and then I'm just getting faced by new problems. It's a really difficult balancing act because it's so easy to blunder if you just make a couple of quick moves."

Carlsen on Nakamura: "He's been playing well." Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Although he did win today, Carlsen couldn't be a hundred percent satisfied just yet as he got a promising and then a winning position in game one, but failed to convert. "I guess I should have won but he fought extremely well and I also didn't find the key tactics later on," he said.

From Nakamura's perspective, it was quite incredible that he didn't lose the position he got on move 25. He managed to make life difficult for his opponent while Carlsen missed some things, especially on move 32.

Apparently all these mini-matches must have at least one non-game, and this time it was the second. With 4...d6 Carlsen deviated from the main lines of the Anti-Berlin, and a couple of moves later Nakamura decided to trade everything when a dead drawn and fully symmetrical endgame appeared on the board.

For the third game, Carlsen switched back to 1.e4 and an Italian came on the board. This one seemed to be the story of one major mistake for Nakamura, but on his Twitch channel, he revealed that he had confused the move order in the opening. He didn't want to give more details as the line was likely to appear again on the board, but he seemed to suggest that it was the reason why he got out of the opening badly.

"Even though I got a very bad position, it's still messy and complicated," he said, before showing what he had missed exactly.

Position after 26.Nxd5.

Here Nakamura went 26...Qxf2+? planning after 27.Kh2 to play 27...Bf5 29.Qa3+ Qc5 but too late he noticed White has 30.Qc1! hitting both Bf5 and pawn h6, which wins.

Carlsen: "That was obviously nerve-wracking in the sense that I'm one move from getting mated but I think it just doesn't work for Black at all and he should have played 26...Re5." 

Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals day 1.

In what was a must-win for him now, Nakamura failed to get an opening advantage as Carlsen found the wonderful sequence 12...c5! and 13...d5! with full equality. In fact, it was Black who was better and even close to winning later on but instead, Carlsen played it safe and found a funny way to force the draw.

"The last game, there was not a whole lot to do. I just started moving quickly, hoping to create something but there were never any chances," said Nakamura.

Hikaru Nakamura
Nakamura came nowhere near a win in game four. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nakamura: "Overall I thought I played reasonably well. I would say, objectively, if I don't get a bad position out of the opening I've generally outplayed Magnus but today he got two good positions with White and I wasn't able to save both of them so that was the difference."

Carlsen: "I haven't found any semblance of rhythm whatsoever so I'm in general very unhappy with the way I played. Today was a lot better in the sense that he didn't get any counter-chances so today was an improvement but still there is a lot to work on. At least I'll take that with me that today wasn't so much about survival as just bringing the points home in good positions."

All games | Final, Day 4

The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals benefiting Kiva runs August 9-20 on chess24. The semifinals phase was a best-of-five series of matches consisting of four-game rapid matches each day. The final consists of a best-of-seven series, where the player who wins four matches is the winner of the tour. The prize fund is $300,000 with $140,000 for first place and $80,000 for second. The time control is 15 minutes and a 10-second increment.

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