International Chess Federation
Sunday, 12 May 2024 22:50
Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz: Magnus Carlsen captures title

Magnus Carlsen emerged as the winner of the 2024 Superbet Poland Rapid & Blitz. The World #1 became the leader of the Grand Chess Tour 2024 season and took home $40,000 first prize.

Day 5 of the competition saw the thrilling finale in the race between tournament leader Wei Yi and World #1 Magnus Carlsen. Going into the final day, Wei was leading the tournament 2.5 points ahead of Magnus. 

The Chinese GM started well, beating Gukesh D in Round 10 of the blitz. Carlsen kept pace, taking over Kirill Shevchenko with Black in a very complicated game in which the young Romanian player had a dangerous attack. 

Kirill Shevchenko - Magnus Carlsen

White has more than sufficient compensation for the sacrificed bishop. The best way to proceed suggested by the computer was 16. Rd2, gradually building up the pressure along the d-file. Kirill played seemingly logical 16. f4? opening the lines which turned out to be a serious mistake. After precise 16... Rb8! 17. Qh4 Qe3+ 18. Kb1 Qxf4 19. Qh6 Ng4 20. Nf5+ Qxf5 21. Qxf8+ Nxf8 Magnus repelled all the treats and emerged up a piece in an endgame. | 0-1, 23 moves.

Wei Yi was completely lost against Keymer in the next round but got a lucky break after the young German blundered a stalemate combination. 

Vincent Keymer - Wei Yi

After 70. Qf8+ Kh7 71. Qf5+ White forces a winning pawn endgame. Vincent, however, played the natural 70. c4?? completely missing 70…Qh2+! The queen is taboo because of the stalemate. Keymer tried 71. Kf1, but Black insisted on sacrificing the queen and after 71…Qg1+ 72. Ke2 Qe1+! a draw was agreed  ½: ½.

Carlsen, meanwhile, won a nice game against Praggnanandhaa, making good use of his two bishops and narrowing the gap with Wei Yi. 

In Round 12, the Chinese GM blundered a simple intermezzo against Jan-Krzysztof Duda, which cost him a minor piece and the game. Magnus, on the other hand, continued his winning streak, defeating Nodirbek Abdusattorov and shortening the distance to the leader. 

It set up a critical leaders’ clash in the next round. Magnus prevailed in a very long battle to catch up with Wei in the standings.

Wei Yi bounced back in Round 14, converting his extra exchange against Anish Giri, but it was not enough to pull away as Magnus won his game against Vincent Keymer. 

Vincent Keymer - Magnus Carlsen

Magnus has just played 57…Ke6? (the immediate 57…a2 was much better) offering White an excellent chance to escape for a draw with 58. h4! Vincent missed this opportunity and played 58. Ra6+ instead, but after 58…Kd5 59. Kg2 e6 Carlsen seamlessly converted his extra pawn. | 0-1, 82 moves

Wei got lucky in the next round winning the game against Arjun Erigaisi after the Indian went for a tempting but erroneous combination. 

Arjun Erigaisi - Wei Yi

In this position with an extra pawn, White miscalculated and sacrificed his queen with 32. Qxa8+?? However, after the precise 32... Rxa8 33. Rc8+ Rxc8 34. Rxc8+ Kh7 35. Ng5+ Kh6 36. f4 Nh7! 37. d5 Nxg5 38. fxg5+ Kxg5 Black emerged with a queen for a rook, forcing Erigaisi’s capitulation. | 0-1, 44 moves. 

Trying to keep pace with Wei, Magnus got lucky against Duda as the Polish GM missed a simple drawing continuation. 

Magnus Carlsen - Jan-Krzysztof Duda

After natural 58…Kxh5, capturing White’s last pawn, the position is equal. Jan-Krzysztof opted for 58…Kf5?? but after 59. Rf4+ Ke6 60. Rh4 Rg3  61. Kf4 Rg8 62. Rg4 Rf8+ 63. Ke4 Ra8 64. Rg6+ it was all over for Black. | 1-0, 66 moves

In Round 16, Wei Yi drew with Kirill Shevchenko, whereas Magnus pulled through and grabbed the lead for the first time after batting past Gukesh D in a crazy game. 

Gukesh D - Magnus Carlsen

After 16…Bf8? played by Magnus (much better was 16…Nc4), he ran into a fantastic shot spotted by Gukesh 17. Rxg6!! The point is that after 17…fxg6 18. Bxg6+ Ke7 19. f5! White’s attack is way too strong. Carlsen tried 17…Nc4?! and Gukesh could have simply captured on c4 with a superior position. Instead, he went for the tempting 18. Qg2? with the idea of 18…Nxe3 19. Rxe6+. 

However, Magnus found a brilliant resource 18…Ndxe5!! freeing the d7-square for his king and taking control of the game. After 17. Rg3 Nxd3+ 18. cxd3 Nxe3 19. Rxe3 Qxh4 20. Rf1 Bd6 Magnus gradually converted his extra pawn into a full point. | 0-1, 43 moves 

In the penultimate round, Wei Yi, who trailed Magnus by a half-point, played a crucial game against Praggnanandhaa. After the Indian blundered a piece, the Chinese GM got a winning position but cracked under pressure and not just let his advantage slip away but lost.

Magnus, meanwhile, drew with Giri and consolidated his lead, going into the final round a full point ahead of Wei. Facing Erigaisi in Round 18, the World #1 took a very solid approach and drew in the Four Knights Scotch to capture the title. Wei defeated Abdusattorov and finished a half point behind the winner. Third place goes to Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who had a great second day of blitz, winning three straight games at the end. 

Check out the Day 5 Recap Video by IM Kostya Kavutskiy

Up next is the Superbet Romania Chess Classic, starting June 25.

Photos: courtesy of Grand Chess Tour

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