Anish Giri is sole leader of the Skilling Open after scoring
4/5 on Day 1, and it could have been more, since he took a draw in a winning
position against Hikaru Nakamura. Magnus Carlsen feared “a very, very long day”
after blundering his queen against Ian Nepomniachtchi and letting a win slip
against MVL, but he needn’t have worried. He bounced back to win the next three
games, including against Alireza Firouzja, saying, “It’s always nice to beat
him while I still can!” The surprise was bottom seed David Anton, who beat
Svidler, Nepo and Radjabov to tie Magnus for 2nd place.

You can replay all the games from Day 1 of the Skilling
Open, the first event on the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour, using the
selector below.

We had four commentary streams in English alone, which you
can always catch live on our
broadcast page
 by choosing the different flags under the broadcast. Here’s the TV studio broadcast from Oslo featuring David
Howell, Jovanka Houska and host Kaja Snare.

And here’s Peter Leko and Tania Sachdev.

Magnus Carlsen bounces back after shock start

Round 1 saw six draws, but Nepomniachtchi-Carlsen provided
more than enough drama to make up for it! At first it seemed Russian no. 1 Ian
Nepomniachtchi was comfortably on top in a 3…Nge7 Ruy Lopez, but Ian lost his
way and then with 33.Rd5? allowed a sudden counter-strike.

33…c6! of course attacks the rook, but the point is that it
prepares Qa7 and an attack on the white king. Nepo’s 34.Rd4 parried that threat
(34…Qa7 35.Qa4!) but Magnus continued the same theme with 34…d5!, this time
clearing the queen’s path to a3. Nepo was in shock.

It was just a question of how Magnus would win, until suddenly
instead of retreating his queen to one of the winning squares on the b-file, he
dropped it on b4, where it could be captured by Nepo’s pawn.

Magnus was still bewildered afterwards when Kaja Snare asked him what had
happened with the mouse-slip.

The truth is I don’t really know. Usually I will know it’s
one of two things. Either you just try to make the move and then you move it
too far or not far enough, or the other one is that you think about making a
move and then you drop  the piece back on
the wrong square, and frankly I don’t even remember which one it was, which is
very strange. Regardless of what happens it was kind of sudden. I was choosing
between many strong continuations there and all of a sudden I have to resign.

He didn’t necessarily have to resign, but when Nepo hesitated Magnus stepped in to avoid any repeat
of the kind of magnanimity he’d shown himself when Ding
Liren lost on time against him in the Chessable Masters
.

Maybe because he was in shock of what happened and I decided
that one thing I don’t want to happen is him to think, ‘should I offer a draw
since he slipped in a winning position?’ and so on, so I just resigned so he
wouldn’t have to make any of those decisions.

Magnus feels mouse-slips are just part and parcel of the
online game.

There are functions that you can choose like confirm move,
that you have to confirm every move, but this can take away mouse-slips, but it
slows the game down and takes away precious seconds. I think mouse-slips are
part of the game, but obviously when it happens that’s really the worst way to
lose the game!

When Magnus was asked by Kaja Snare before the tournament about
his ambitions he responded.

My basic ambition is to try and spread the game as far as
possible… and when the time comes, to win it all!

There was a very long way to go, but Magnus has a tendency
to bounce straight back from losses, and he went for it in his next game against Maxime
Vachier-Lagrave. Magnus judged
he could grab a pawn on a2, despite the bishop getting trapped.

Here Maxime spent 3 minutes on 19.Rxa2 (19.Ne2! actually seems to give White great winning chances), and after 19…c5! Black was much better, though MVL managed to scrape a draw after many more twists and turns. Magnus admitted he “kind of
blew it” and said he thought this might be “a very, very long day”.

In the end, however, he’d go on to win the next three games.
Teimour Radjabov was tempted by a queen exchange, perhaps feeling that Magnus
couldn’t grab a pawn because of the tactical idea of 24…Ne3.

25.fxe3? Rxg3 and White is losing, but chess isn’t checkers and after 25.Rd2! Magnus
had everything under control. When he won the b6-pawn as well, Teimour
resigned.

David Anton was the next player to go for a flawed tactic
against the World Champion, and it was a significant win for Magnus, since the
Spanish bottom seed otherwise had a brilliant day. David smoothly outplayed
Peter Svidler in the Grünfeld (!), took just 15 moves to get a winning position
against Ian Nepomniachtchi’s 1.b3 and won a topsy-turvy tactical battle against
Teimour Radjabov.

In the final game of the day Magnus faced the youngest
player in the field, 17-year-old Alireza Firouzja, who had had a very eventful
day. In Round 1 Alireza was lost against Vidit but managed to escape with a
draw, before in Round 2 he put Wesley So to the sword, despite the US Champion
improving on the line Fabiano Caruana had played against Firouzja in a recent Norway Chess Armageddon game.

33.Rxh6! gxh6 34.Qg4+ Kf8 35.Bg7+! and Wesley resigned since
it’s mate-in-2.

There was also an echo of Norway Chess in Carlsen-Firouzja,
with Magnus playing the novelty 9.Bg3, varying from the 9.Nge2 he’d played
against Alireza in their first
game from last month’s Norway Chess
. Back then Magnus was close to winning,
then got into some difficulties, before the game ended in a draw. This time it
was all Magnus, as he smoothly outplayed the youngster. 

“It’s always nice to beat him while I still can!” Magnus summed
up.

Anish Giri emerges as the early leader

Levon Aronian and Ian Nepomniachtchi were fastest out of the
blocks. Nepo managed to bamboozle Radjabov in Round 2 after his lucky break against
Magnus, while Levon won two model games against Le Quang Liem and Vidit. Both
lost in Round 3, however, and it was Anish Giri who ended the day as top
scorer.

Anish survived MVL’s decision to return to his main openings and play the Sicilian in
Round 1, then impressively outplayed Sergey Karjakin in the next game. He could
have added the scalp of Hikaru Nakamura, but suddenly declared an amnesty.

“If I win too many games then Magnus will lose his sponsors,
so I decided to not win all of the games and at least make one draw in between,”
quipped Anish, before adding:

Actually, to be honest, I messed up a little bit in that game.
I was much, much more winning before and I didn’t really realise how badly I
messed up, so I thought like I ruined everything already, but it turns out I
still had some advantage left.

In fact he clarified that it was “a tremendous advantage”,
but in the end it was just a small blemish on an otherwise near perfect day.
Anish felt the way his openings went was like being dealt aces in poker: “One
time I folded, but in the other games I managed to convert!”    

Giri went on to win a nice ending against Liem Quang Le and
then squeeze out victory in the theoretically drawn but very difficult Rook +
Bishop vs. Rook endgame against Vidit.

Anish had previously mentioned just how tough it was for
Vidit to be playing late at night.

It’s a tricky balancing act, since Hikaru Nakamura beings
his games at 9am in the morning, while 18:00 is ideal for Norwegian TV. Ding
Liren has the toughest situation, since the games end at after 5am in China,
but he survived the first day unscathed with five draws. In fact the world number two, who still has occasional internet issues behind the Great Firewall of China, scored a victory. Our new disconnect policy meant that one of his games was paused after he’d
been disconnected for 30 seconds and then resumed quickly when he was back
on-line.

Anish summed up Day 1 of the Skilling Open.

Day 2 includes a clash we’ll all be looking forward to.

I remember I play Magnus in Round 9 so in case he’s watching
he should already start his sleepless night because he’s playing me tomorrow. He should be aware of that!

All the players are still in contention to finish in the Top
8 places and reach the knockout, however, with Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour
runner-up Hikaru Nakamura well-placed in the tie for 4th place after four draws
and a win against Sergey Karjakin. Here are the full standings.

The action starts each day at 17:45 CET (11:45 ET) and you
can follow it all live here on chess24 with multiple commentary streams in
different languages

See also:


Chess Mentor

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