Carlsen Leads Opera Euro Rapid After 'Very Enjoyable Day Of Chess'
Magnus Carlsen leads after day 1. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Leads Opera Euro Rapid After 'Very Enjoyable Day Of Chess'

| 39 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen leads the Opera Euro Rapid tournament after what he called "a very enjoyable day of chess" when more than half of the games ended decisively. The tournament is the third leg of the Champions Chess Tour.

How to watch?
The games of the Opera Euro Rapid can be found here as part of our live events platform. IM Levy Rozman and IM Anna Rudolf are providing daily commentary on GM Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch channel starting from 8:00 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 Central Europe.

After 16 days of over-the-board chess in Wijk aan Zee, we're returning to the "new normal" again: another online tournament that is part of the Champions Chess Tour. Back home in Norway after many weeks, Carlsen made a good start as he is trying to win his first event of the new tour.

Like the first leg—the Skilling Open, won by GM Wesley So—the Opera Euro Rapid (named after title partner Opera, the internet browser) started as a 16-player, single round-robin. After three days, half the field qualifies for the knockout phase.

According to Carlsen, it's this format that led to the high number of decisive games (24 out of 40). GM Ian Nepomniachtchi agrees and expects a higher number of draws on the next two days: "The plague will surely return!"

Ian Nepomniachtchi
Ian Nepomniachtchi: "The plague will surely return!" Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Opera Euro Rapid Preliminaries | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen 2881 2936 0 1 1 1 1 4.0/5
2 So 2741 2917 1 0 ½ 1 1 3.5/5 8.75
3 Nepomniachtchi 2778 2924 0 1 1 ½ 1 3.5/5 8
4 Vachier-Lagrave 2860 2763 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 3.0/5 7.5
5 Giri 2731 2829 1 0 ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 7.5
6 Radjabov 2758 2773 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/5 6
7 Aronian 2778 2817 0 ½ 1 0 1 2.5/5 6.25
8 Nakamura 2829 2771 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 5.75
9 Duda 2774 2768 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/5 5.25
10 Shankland 2609 2794 0 ½ 0 1 1 2.5/5 5
11 Dubov 2770 2708 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 2.0/5 5.75
12 Grischuk 2784 2676 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 5.25
13 Vidit 2636 2666 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 2.0/5 3.25
14 Bluebaum 2562 2668 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/5 3.75
15 Ding 2836 2555 0 0 0 ½ 1 1.5/5 1.75
16 Dominguez 2786 2548 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1.0/5

Carlsen played a disappointing Tata Steel Chess Tournament and didn't start well in this event either. He lost his first game to So, who outplayed the world champion from a Maroczy Bind position. 

"I tried to win every game including the first one," said Carlsen at the end of the day. "I was beaten quite soundly."

The world champion had the strength of mind to ignore this first mishap and continue fresh. It was part of the plan: "I knew that Wesley is a very strong player, and I had decided beforehand that regardless of what happens in the first round, that's not going to affect me."

Carlsen won his next four games to end as the leader after the first day of play. First, he beat GM Levon Aronian in trademark style. The endgame is very unpleasant for Black, probably more than Aronian anticipated.

After wins against GM Matthias Bluebaum and GM Sam Shankland, Carlsen finished his day with a wild game that he described as "a lot of fun" against GM Leinier Dominguez

Carlsen was actually in trouble at one point and said: "Apparently I could have been mated at some point, but he didn't see it, and neither did I, so who cares, right?"

Skilling Open: Knockouts Day 2.

The bishop endgame at the end is very instructive. The theme of "wrong corner square" in a bishop endgame, often pointed out by commentator GM Robert Hess, could have helped Dominguez to save the game. It could be a good training exercise to try yourself, beginning after 61…Kc3 before Dominguez steps in the wrong direction and fails to save the draw:

Before this loss, Aronian had started with a spectacular win against GM Ding Liren. The opening can be seen as AlphaZero's interpretation (an early h2-h4) of the Velimirovic Attack (Bc4, Be3, Qe2, and 0-0-0 for White). Aronian played like a modern-day Tal, taking Ding into that famous deep forest where mathematics works differently and only one player can find his way out.

Levon Aronian
Swashbuckling play by Aronian. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Returning to online chess also means returning to mouse-slips. GM Alexander Grischuk's "novelty" on move four in a Berlin Ruy Lopez won't be repeated except for others who might be suffering from a malfunctioning, electronic little creature. GM Anish Giri got a big edge for free but failed to convert it:

GM Daniil Dubov had to withdraw from Wijk aan Zee at the last moment, but it's good to see him playing again. He missed some chances, though, and needs to score better in the next two days. Here's his game with Nepomniachtchi.

Daniil Dubov Opera Euro Rapid
An unfortunate first day for Daniil Dubov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

All Games Day 1

The Opera Euro Rapid runs February 6-14. The preliminary phase is a 16-player rapid round-robin (15 + 10). The top eight players advance to a six-day knockout that will consist of two days of four-game rapid matches, which may advance to blitz (5 + 3) and armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four with no increment) tiebreaks only if the knockout match is tied after the second day. The prize fund is $100,000 with $30,000 for first place.

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.

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