Global Chess League: Carlsen edges Anand as Warriors go top

IMAGE: Magnus Carlsen registered a spectacular victory over Viswanathan Anand, securing a victory for SG Alpine Warriors with a score of 10:8 at the Global Chess League on Wednesday. Photographs: Global Chess League

In a historic endgame, Magnus Carlsen of SG Alpine Warriors defeated Viswanathan Anand and launched his team to the top of the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League in Dubai on Wednesday, pushing Ganges Grandmasters to second.


However, all eyes were on the second match, between tournament leaders Ganges Grandmasters and SG Alpine Warriors. The team of Ganges Grandmasters took the lead but thanks to the unstoppable Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu on the SG Alpine Warrior’s team (who scored 5,5/6), the team managed to strike back in a critical moment. In what turned out to be the endgame for the history books, which saw two queens promoted by White and a knight promoted by Black, Carlsen managed to win and ensured his team reaches the top of the scoreboard.

Balan Alaskan Knights unsettled one of the top tournament performers upGrad Mumba Masters in the first match of the round.Knights, who won the first round against the Masters 14:5, started with the advantage of playing with white. The Knights were immediately pressing hard. In the Sicilian, Icon player Ian Nepomniachtchi went for the Rossolimo attack against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Both Indian women Grandmasters, Koneru Humpy and Harika Dronavalli, also came under pressure straight away.

The Knights team started the day in fifth position. But in the individual race for the most valuable players, they had two of their own – Tan Zhongyi and Nodirbek Abdusattorov – in good form and in the top six, just behind the Masters’ Harika Dronavalli who was in fourth place.

By the time the dust settled on the opening moves, Humpy was in a disadvantageous position against Tan Zhongyi, although the latter had used up more time for her attack. On board one, the icon players settled for a draw, as did Teimour Radjabov and Vidit Gujrathi on the third table.

Meanwhile, a patient Humpy made calculated moves to fight back. Her opponent Tan Zhongyi misplayed at a crucial juncture, allowing Humpy to bail out. Dronavalli also held off the initial onslaught from Nino Batsiashvili, and the two agreed on a draw.

All hopes rested on board six, where Knights’ prodigy Raunak Sadhwani pressed his advantage with white against Javokhir Sindarov from Uzbekistan. The time on the clock was also in the favour of the young 17-year-old from Nagpur. The endgame saw some nervous shaking of feet. Sadhwani finally forced a win, expressing his delight by throwing his hands in the air.

In the last game to finish, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, as White, was in a tight tug-of-war with Alexander Grischuk for most of their clash. Abdusattorov then managed to hold the fort, thus paving the way for an important 8-5 win for the Knights.

Ganges Grandmasters vs SG Alpine Warriors (8:10)

This was the match of the day in the seventh round of the Global Chess League. Not only did we see a high-stakes duel but, also, two former world champions, Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand – both in a class of their own – faced each other for the second time. In their earlier match in the Global Chess League, Ganges Grandmasters came out victorious, 11 to 6. With the colour of pieces switching, the Ganges Grandmasters now had the first move initiative.

This match was crucial for both teams. While the team of Ganges Grandmasters has dominated the top in this event so far, SG Alpine Warriors are within reach of the first place. “For both teams, this match is like a semi-final – whichever team wins they have great chances to reach the final,” a well-informed source from the SG Alpine Warriors said.

For a long time in the round, neither side had the upper hand. The first to make a breakthrough was Ganges’ Richard Rapport. In the Italian game, Gukesh D allowed Rapport to take more space and orchestrate an attack on the black king from which there was no escape. With another game ending in a draw – between Arjun Erigaisi and Leinier Dominguez – the Ganges Grandmasters took the lead.

The next game to finish was between Hou Yifan – the top-rate woman player and former women’s World Champion – who defeated the 8-time American Women’s Champion, Irina Krush. In a tense position, Krush made a blunder allowing White to easily mate her king.

IMAGE: Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, so far the most successful player in the Global Chess League, proved his value again as he outclassed Andrey Esipenko. Photograph: Global Chess League

A glimmer of hope for SG Alpine Warriors came from Praggnanandhaa — so far the most successful player in the tournament — who proved his value again, defeating Andrey Esipenko as Black.

As Elisabeth Paehtz ended in a drawn position with Bella Khotenashvili, everything depended on the outcome of the game between Carlsen and Anand.

In their first encounter in round two, Carlsen beat Anand as White. Now, it was Anand’s chance to take the initiative and win. The two greats played one of the most exciting games ever in chess, ending in an astonishing endgame.

Following the French defence, a sharp position developed on the board. In positional re-adjusting, both were pushing, creating traps for each other. Carlsen was gradually gaining ground but Anand was holding. Following a decision to trade his bishop for a knight, White was lost. But it wasn’t over and — with seconds on the clock — Carlsen had to calculate the complicated path to victory which saw White promoting his pawn to a queen twice!

In the end, Anand thought he found a way to a stalemate but instead of promoting a queen, Carlsen took out a knight — an unusual choice by all standards — but just what was needed for victory.

The commentators and grandmasters following the game were stunned by what they were witnessing.”This is a game for the history books. The titans of chess fighting it out until the end,” said Grandmaster Peter Svidler.

Carlsen registered a spectacular victory over Anand, securing a victory for SG Alpine Warriors with a score of 10:8.

“Well, I did not know the score, but judging from what I had seen before I thought I had to win, I had to keep the game going and I didn’t think there was any risk, I thought — let’s keep going and continue this fight.”

“It’s looking pretty good now, it’s pretty massive, we’ve got to keep it going, we’ve played with five blacks in a row, won four of them. But now mentality changes – since we need to win with white and draw won’t be enough… It’s not going to be easy for sure — it’s a hell of a ride, every match comes down to the wire. So far we’ve come out on top and hopefully continue,” Carlsen said.

“I spoiled the endgame in the end… He’s really good at this,” said the former World Champion from India, clearly unsettled by the experience.

Match results:

Match 19
Balan Alaskan Knights 8-5 upGrad Mumba Masters
Queen of the match – Koneru Humpy
King of the match – RaunakSadhwani

Match 20
Ganges Grandmasters 8-10 SG Alpine Warriors
Queen of the match – Hou Yifan
King of the match – Magnus Carlsen

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