The final of theMagnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals benefiting Kivawill be decided in the seventh and final mini-match as GM Magnus Carlsenleveled the score vs. GM Hikaru Nakamurafor the third time on Wednesday. Carlsen won a great first game after which Nakamura couldn't recover.
The final of the finals goes down the wire. It's now just a single mini-match that will determine who will be King of the Lockdown (as GM Yasser Seirawan aptly described it) and earn the $140,000 first prize.
"It only remains to be seen if I can win two sets in a row at some point," Carlsen said on Monday. That is now a mandatory task for the world champion, who might have gotten some extra confidence from the fact that he won convincingly today despite suffering from serious backaches.
Carlsen arrived at his desk in a t-shirt and with wet hair, looking like he just came from the shower, and was pulling all kinds of faces and moving his body as in pain. As it turned out, he was.
"What happened was, I was generally feeling great today and then half an hour before the game I was just going for a quick swim in the ocean, I started running and something just happened."
By the time the match was over, he had recovered slightly: "There's a little less pain now than there was before."
As said, the unpleasant physical situation didn't prevent Carlsen from playing good chess, especially in the first game where he got the fans on the edge of their seat as he sacrificed a knight on g7, blowing open the defensive wall in front of the opponent's king.
Position after 22...a6 when Carlsen played 23.Nxg7!.
That was the first key moment, as afterward Nakamura called it "insane" that he had allowed it, instead of chopping off the knight on f5. "I lost control for a move or two."
"Very provocative," Carlsen said about 22...a6. "Obviously, one of the ideas of bringing the rook to c5 is to take on g7 and if I don't take then my preceding play makes little to no sense."
The world champion got a winning attack, but allowed his opponent back into the game. That might not have happened if he hadn't seen his opponent on camera in the Zoom call! He saidhe noticed that after 31...Qb6 Nakamura started shaking his head:
"I guess I fell for the oldest trick in the book. I just assumed he missed 32.Rd1 and it's game over, but of course after 32...Rd6 I have to start all over." But he got himself together, kept pressing and won anyway.
Nakamura said game two was "much more tragic" as he got a golden opportunity to level the score right away. A Spanish middlegame without queens turned into a rook endgame that looked holdable for Black.
"I was winning at the end and then I blundered with this 62.Rc3," said Nakamura. "To be fair, I'm sure this was a draw and Magnus misplayed it."
In game three, Carlsen then repeated what both players had done before: he sacrificed his white game and went for a quick move repetition in the Berlin. "I actually expected that," said Nakamura. "Before the game, I was trying to figure out if I should go for broke with black and play something else."
Having to win the fourth game, Nakamura got another Spanish game with the white pieces where Black was OK out of the opening. The game didn't get static though, and so he was keeping some chances until he made a mistake on move 35.
"I was not better but I had chances and then I played one really bad move and that completely cost me," Nakamura said about 35.Rc1. He had "forgotten" about Black's reply after which he was not better anymore.
"Maybe there are some chances to hold the game but the winning chances are completely gone. A very disappointing finish."
As he did every day so far, win or loss, Nakamura joined the show on his Twitch channel and gave an extensive interview. Here's how he reflected on the sixth day:
"There were two or three critical moments, and I didn't find the right moves.I am actually a little bit unhappy because I didn't feel Magnus outplayed me. Having said that, I felt that I didn't play my best chess today and I still had opportunities in the second and the fourth game to keep the match close and potentially win. So that's the upside."
He then said something in more general terms about losing, which is very recognizable for amateur players:
'It's more the fact that when you lose, you wanna feel like you were soundly outplayed. That's kind of the point. Let's say, you're playing well and your opponent finds better moves, you can't really be unhappy with the result but when you feel you didn't play great chess and you're opponent didn't really play great chess either and things didn't go your way, then, in general, it's harder to be happy."
He still managed to remain positive:
"I think I played really poor chess today overall. The fact that I played poor chess and I still have a chance to come back tomorrow and play better is all you can ask for. You're gonna have days when you don't play great and when the happens, usually, that's it, it's over. But I have a chance to play better tomorrow and it's the final match so we'll see what happens."
Carlsen's interview was shorter than usual because of his back issues. He said about tomorrow:"It's obviously gonna be tough. I feel like every day has been difficult so far and I don't expect this to be any different."
All games | Final, Day 6
TheMagnus 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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