Anish Giri scored a brilliant 4/5 on Day 2 of the Magnus
Carlsen Invitational to maintain the sole lead. That scored was matched by
Magnus, who trails by just half a point, and Wesley So, who put his Day 1
troubles behind him to join his US colleague Hikaru Nakamura in joint 3rd
place. It was another day of bloodthirsty action, with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
losing 4 in a row, Levon Aronian needing a miracle mate at the end to avoid scoring
0.5/5 and Teimour Radjabov joining Sergey Karjakin outside the qualification spots.
You can replay all the games from the Magnus Invitational
Prelims using the selector below.
And here’s the Day 2 commentary to replay from Tania Sachdev and Peter
And Kaja Snare, Jovanka Houska and David Howell.
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“You love to see it that people are fighting like crazy,”
said Magnus Carlsen, and once again no less than 25 of the 40 games were
decisive on Day 2 of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, with the standings
looking as follows.
Only the Top 8 will go on to the quarterfinals after Monday’s
final five rounds, so we can only expect the drama to grow. Let’s look
at how the event is going for all the players.
1. Anish Giri, 8/10,
4/5 on Day 2 (3 wins and 2 draws)
As the leader going into Day 2, Anish could have been
forgiven for just trying to cruise to qualification, but instead he began by
beating David Anton (“I would be happy to play such a game in a classical
tournament”) and Levon Aronian to make it 5 wins in a row. He ended the day by
beating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov as well and had great chances to beat Nils
Grandelius and Daniil Dubov before that. “Today was incredible,” he summed up.
If Anish can play the same way in the Candidates anything is
possible. He commented:
The Candidates is a very specific event. It’s just 7 rounds,
and given the tournament situation so much depends on a couple of games there
that I think it’s going to be a gigantic coin toss. Of course I wish with the
form I have now that we’d play 14 rounds from scratch, but still I’m going to
give it a shot, and when it comes to form, unfortunately these things change
pretty fast, but the last couple of days in Wijk aan Zee as well, I was playing
very well. I honestly don’t really know why – maybe I’m a good player, but I
2. Magnus Carlsen, 7.5/10, 4/5 on Day 2 (3
wins and 2 draws)
Giri was happy to see Magnus do well, since it meant “I’ve
beaten Magnus in great shape”. The World Champion beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Ian
Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin in a row, though he admitted afterwards it
I have to say two of the games I won were kind of gifts by
my opponents, but obviously the score is great and it puts me in a great position.
I do still feel as though I have to play a bit better in the knockout stages, but I’ll worry more about that later, I guess.
Shak blundered towards the end, while Magnus admitted he was
getting outplayed and was on the ropes against Nepo until the Russian made a
Here Nepo went for 46.Bxc4?, with Magnus commenting:
The amazing thing about his bishop sac is that I’d seen beforehand
that there were two refutations of that move, and because of that I believed
there was no chance he would play it, because one refutation you may miss, but
you usually don’t miss two, so that’s why I considered that an absolutely gift,
since it’s not the sort of thing that should usually happen. Maybe he thought
he was winning then realised it was not quite as clear as he thought and then
got frustrated, but who knows.
46…dxc4? 47.Rd6 wins for White, but 46…e3 was one
refutation, while the other was the move played by Magnus, 46…Rg8! The World
Champion actually slipped up a few moves later (after 50…e3? there was a draw
with 51.Ra4!), but the compliant 51.Qxe3? allowed a nice finish:
51…Ra1! There’s mate-in-3 after 52.Kxa1 b2+ but in any case
the b-pawn can’t be stopped, since Ba2+ will force it home. The game ended
52.Qe5 Ra2+ 53.Kb1 Rxd2 54.Rxd2 b2 White resigns
Magnus should have no trouble qualifying, but is hoping for
the added bonus of finishing top and being able to choose the colour he plays
first throughout the knockout, including in Armageddon games.
Last time I said that the seeding didn’t really matter, but
there are Tour points at stake and also picking colours all the way through the
knockouts is really nice! I’m going to be aiming pretty hard for the no. 1 seed
3. Wesley So, 6.5/10, 4/5 on Day 2 (3 wins
and 2 draws)
The other star of the day was Wesley So, who completely made
up for his two losses with White on the first day with three impressive wins,
over Aronian, Dubov and Van Foreest, and two easy draws. The conversion against Levon in particular was spectacular.
Wesley is a tactical beast when provoked, but his +3 score was over-performance.
I’m really just aiming to score +1 and qualify in the top 8, so that’s my goal, even 50% has small chances of qualifying. That’s really what
I’m aiming for. If my opponent gives me more chances, I’ll take them.
4. Hikaru Nakamura, 6.5/10, 3.5/4 on Day 2
(2 wins and 3 draws)
Nakamura was the player to put in the kind of performance we
expect from Wesley or Teimour Radjabov. With the disastrous end to the Opera
Euro Rapid preliminaries no doubt still fresh in his mind, Hikaru was the consummate
professional, taking three very quick draws against Radjabov, So and Dubov and
picking off wins against Alan Pichot and Levon Aronian.
The US star is the only unbeaten player other than Giri and is well on
course to reach the knockouts.
5. Alireza Firouzja, 6/10, 3.5/4 on Day 2
(3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss)
17-year-old Firouzja began the day outside the qualification
places but he’s right back on track after a good and entertaining day at the
office. He got a big boost in the first game when Shakhriyar
Mamedyarov first spoilt a great position and then made a fatal miscalculation
in the ending.
After 35.Rd1 the rook ending is very drawish, but instead Shak
went for 35.fxe3? when it turns out the pawn ending after 35…Kxd6 is just lost for White! It’s
counter-intuitive, as the black king has to go on an expedition to capture
the a-pawn, but White has a longer journey to g7 and Firouzja’s e-pawn won the
The most impressive win came against Teimour Radjabov’s King’s
Indian, that has seldom looked so toothless.
6. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 6/10, 3/5 on Day
2 (2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss)
Maxime scored +1 for a second day in a row despite getting
off to the worst possible start. You might say 1…a5!? was asking for that…
…but the opening wasn’t really to blame for the crushing
defeat that followed.
Maxime made up for that with a win over Alan Pichot and
gratefully accepted a gift from Radjabov. 20.Rd1? is the kind of blunder
Teimour almost never makes.
20…Rxd1+ 21.Qxd1 e4! 22.Bxg7 exf3! and it was game-over,
despite White dragging things out for a few more moves.
7. Levon Aronian, 5/10, 1.5/5 on Day 2 (1
win, 1 draw, 3 losses)
That Levon didn’t end a day he started in joint 2nd place by
scoring 0.5/5 and finishing outside the qualification spots is all down to one
moment of madness from Jorden van Foreest. 64…Qf5??, in a completely winning
ending, is perfectly understandable – bringing the queen to a safe square near
the king and offering a queen trade – but in fact it only takes away the vital
f5-square from the black king!
65.Qh8+ Kg5 66.Qh4 mate
Levon complained of completely forgetting his opening
preparation, and summed up:
I’ve been playing my worst chess today. I think I kind of
tilted at some point, especially in the second game against Anish – I was
playing too slowly and lost a very harmless position. Then things went sour
from there on, but of course to get this lucky moment when you don’t really
deserve it at least gives me a chance to fight for qualification.
8. Daniil Dubov, 5/10, 2/5 on Day 2 (4
draws, 1 loss)
Daniil is in a qualification spot, just, but the best that
could be said about his Day 2 was that it could have been worse! Apart from the
loss to Wesley So, he was losing against Anish Giri and looked completely dead
and buried against Alan Pichot.
Dubov has done well to whip up some counterplay, but among
other moves the direct 65.b5! is still winning here – 65…Nd3 66.b6 Nf2+ 67.Rxf2
Bxf2 and 68.b7 wins, though 68.Ne5+! first is even better. Instead after
65.Nd4? Nd3 66.b5 Nf2+ 67.Rxf2 Bxf2 there was no time to push the b-pawn and it
turned out just to be a draw.
Daniil’s last day opponents include the murderers’ row of
MVL, Firouzja and Carlsen.
9. Sergey Karjakin, 5/10, 3.5/5 on Day 2
(3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss)
Sergey started the day outside the qualification spots and
didn’t quite make it back to safety, but this was much better apart from one
tough loss to Magnus. There were good wins against Jorden van Foreest and
Alireza Firouzja, and the final win over David Anton showed impressive fighting
spirit, even if it almost gave Peter Leko a heart attack!
10. Ian Nepomniachtchi, 4.5/10, 3/5 on Day
2 (2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss)
The same can be said about Ian Nepomniachtchi, who had a
better second day but still has work to do after losing a promising position to
Magnus. His opening win over MVL remains one of the day’s most convincing
11. Teimour Radjabov, 4.5/10, 1.5/5 on Day
2 (3 draws, 2 losses)
Teimour was unbeaten in his first 18 games in the Opera Euro
Rapid and everything seemed to be going to plan this time as well until the
final stages of his Round 7 game against Jorden van Foreest. Jorden found a
brilliant attempt at last-ditch defence, giving up his remaining pieces to try
and force stalemate. The critical moment came after 53.Rb7+
With just 3 seconds left on his clock Teimour picked 53…Ka5? and it was only a draw after 54.Rb5+, with nowhere for the black
king to escape anymore – a few moves later Teimour took the white rook and it
was stalemate. Instead after 53…Kc5! the king can advance and Black wins. The
key point is that after 54.Rc7+ Kb4 55.Rxc2 Black is still completely winning without
the rook after a move like 55…d3.
That was a heavy blow and, as we’ve seen, Teimour then went
on to blunder badly in the next game against MVL before his aggression against
Firouzja completely backfired. On the final day Teimour now
knows he needs at least one win to have a chance of qualification.
12. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 4/10, 1/5 on Day
2 (1 win, 4 losses)
Teimour’s Azerbaijan colleague Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had an
even worse day at the office. It all began with a painful endgame loss to
Firouzja, before a blunder against Carlsen and a loss to David Anton made it 4
losses in a row. A nice win against Nils Grandelius proved only a brief respite
before Mamedyarov made an inexplicable blunder at the end of a game Anish Giri
felt he had only a 60:40 chance of converting.
Once again, Shak is very capable of qualifying, but can’t
afford a repeat of his Day 2.
13. Nils Grandelius, 4/10, 2.5/5 on Day 2
(1 win, 3 draws, 1 loss)
Nils got off to a great start with a draw against Magnus and
a win against David Anton and suffered only that loss to Mamedyarov to score
50% for the day. A decent performance, but Nils needs to score +2 against elite
opposition on the final day to push for qualification.
14. Jorden van Foreest, 3/10, 1/5 on Day 2
(2 draws, 3 losses)
Jorden’s escape against Radjabov was a high point, but the
disastrous blunder into mate at the end against Aronian leaves him needing a
miracle to qualify on the final day.
15. David Anton, 2.5/10, 1/5 on Day 2 (1
win, 4 losses)
The Spanish Champion is a danger to anyone, as he showed with
convincing wins over Firouzja on Day 1 and Mamedyarov on Day 2, but he’s also
suffered 7 losses and will miss out on the knockouts for a 3rd Tour event.
16. Alan Pichot, 2/10, 1/5 on Day 2 (2
draws, 3 losses)
Alan almost got the day off to a perfect start with a first
Tour win against Daniil Dubov, but the Russian found a way to wriggle out and
draw. He’s now achieved the points target he set himself before the event, but
there’s no hiding how tough it’s been! As he tweeted:
The 3rd and final day of the preliminary stage promises to
be unmissable, with some star names certain to be eliminated.
Don’t miss all the action from 17:00 CET, with
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