Magnus Carlsen makes Global Chess League debut

SG Alpine Warriors and Balan Alaskan Knights were the first to face each other. The match ended with a score of 9-7 in favour of the Warriors.

Published : Jun 23, 2023 21:15 IST , Dubai - 4 MINS READ

Magnus Carlsen played his first game against Ian Nepomniachtchi.
Magnus Carlsen played his first game against Ian Nepomniachtchi. | Photo Credit: Maria Emelianova

Magnus Carlsen played his first game against Ian Nepomniachtchi. | Photo Credit: Maria Emelianova

The second day of the Global Chess League witnessed the debut of Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion in rapid and blitz. Carlsen played his first game against Ian Nepomniachtchi, a two-time challenger for the world crown.

SG Alpine Warriors and Balan Alaskan Knights were the first to face each other. The match ended with a score of 9-7 in favour of the Warriors. The match saw Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi make their first appearances in the GCL. The game was largely calm, ending in a draw relatively quickly, which was not the case for the rest of the games.

The Knights gained a significant advantage as Teimour Radjabov won as black, earning them four crucial points. Fortunately for the Warriors, they made a comeback with two victories, securing six points.

After draws on two other boards and with the Warriors on 8-6, the last game between Gukesh D and Nodirbek Abdusattorov became decisive. Abdusattorov made a strong push from the early stages, but Gukesh managed to hold his ground, ensuring his team’s victory with a final score of 9-7.

READ: Global Chess League kicks off in Dubai

“I had a small edge, but it was largely even throughout. I wanted to play a more interesting game, but this one went the way it did,” said Carlsen, who also noted that he is excited to be taking part in this event.

In match four, the Chingari Gulf Titans played as white against the Triveni Continental Kings. Both teams started with a defeat on day one and were looking for their first victory.

It started well for the Titans, whose players managed to create stronger positions and take initiative in the match.

In the duel of the prodigies, Nihal Sarin scored an impressive victory against Jonas Buhl Bjere, setting the Titans off to a good start. However, following a mistake in a tense game, Daniil Dubov allowed Wei Yi to score as black, making a comeback for the Triveni Continental Kings.

As the four other games ended in a draw, including the one between heavyweights Jan-Krzystof Duda and Levon Aronian, Wei Yi’s victory turned out to be crucial for the Continental Kings.

Old foes, new challenge

All eyes were on board one, where, for the first time in years, Carlsen was up against Vishwanathan Anand, the man he beat in 2013 to claim the title of world champion for the first time.

Carlsen seized the initiative early in the game. He soon gained an extra pawn and more initiative, leading to a better position. The former world champion Anand was in a tough spot; defending a poor position, he gradually fell into time trouble. After an exchange of heavy pieces, Carlsen ended up in a significantly better position. In the end, Anand had to resign to his old foe.

Carlsen’s attention proved well-placed as the Ganges Grandmasters made a remarkable comeback, securing victories on boards two and five. Richard Rapport convincingly defeated GM Gukesh, while Bela Khotenashvili triumphed over Elisabeth Paehtz. With the remaining three games ending in draws, despite their loss on board one, the Ganges Grandmasters crushed the SG Alpine Warriors with a final score of 11 to 6.

Thrilling draw

Both sides went in hard, and the games were tough. Following a slip of the wrist as early as move eighth, Nino Batsiashvili ended up in a worse position against one of the top Indian female players in the world, Harika Dronavalli. However, while Batsiashvili was managing to hang on, her teammates Tan Zhongyi and Raunak Sadhwani scored victories, giving their team a huge eight-point lead early on.

With top-icon players Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ian Nepomniachtchi drawing, the pressure was on Grischuk and Vidit Gujrathi to save the day for upGrad Mumba Masters. As is often the case for Grischuk, he ended up in time trouble early. Despite managing to hang on, in the end, he misplayed and lost. At the same time, Dronavalli finally brought Batsiashvili to defeat; it was clear the Balan Alaskan Knights won the match.

Despite the winner of the match being decided, this was not the end. Vidit of upGrad Mumba Masters managed to secure a winning position against Teimour Radjabov but was in desperate time trouble. After a series of wild moves where Radjabov was posing problems and fighting back, Vidit finally slipped. In the end, it was a draw after 123 moves!

The final score in the match was 14:5 in favour of the Balan Alaskan Knights.

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