International Chess Federation
Saturday, 20 Mar 2021 20:50
Tense final is left on a knife-edge

The final of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational was touched by Hollywood stardust today as it got off to a tense start. 

Anish Giri and Ian Nepomniachtchi were left level-pegging overnight as the two form horses of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event shared the first set. 

But in between rounds the tournament was visited by Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., The Jerry Maguire star played the Play Magnus app for charity and lost in 16 moves to Magnus Carlsen aged 10.

Meanwhile back in the main event, everything now hangs on tomorrow's second set - and if that also ends all-square then the final will go to tiebreaks. Today saw four consecutive draws between the two who were both rock-solid and played near error-free chess. And despite no decisive results, there was no shortage of action.

Game 1 was dramatic as Giri went three pawns up in the endgame, but Nepomniachtchi pulled off a stunning escape right at the death.

"What a save by Ian Nepomniachtchi!" said GM Peter Leko.

Game 2 saw a rare stalemate on the board and then in the third and fourth both players pushed but both were also immovable.

In the third-place play-off match, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was back to his blistering best as he demolished Wesley So in the first game.

The exciting encounter included a rare opening idea and was named "Murder on a Chessboard" on Norwegian TV. The game can be seen here.

With the pressure now off, Carlsen smiled when he delivered the final blow. "It was okay," he said afterward.

Carlsen added: "I wasn't particularly motivated before today, but the 1st game helped immensely!"

The Norwegian, who was dramatically dumped out of the event yesterday by Nepomniachtichi, went on to win 3-1 and pick up the valuable points for the Tour leaderboard for finishing third overall.

Both matches start again for the final set at 17:00 CET tomorrow.

For further information, please contact: 

Leon Watson, PR for Champions Chess Tour
+44 7786 078 770