Magnus Carlsen also failed to beat German Alexánder Donchenko, 22, who was invited at the last minute at the Tata tournament in Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands) to cover the resignation of Russian Danil Dúbov.
After beating Iranian Alireza Firouzja with a great game in the 1st round, the world champion then drew with three theoretically far inferior opponents: Spain’s David Antón, his compatriot Aryan Tari and Jordan Van Foreest of the Netherlands. The Swede Nils Grandelius leads by half a point more than the Norwegian.
As Carlsen himself implied on Tuesday – Wednesday was a rest day – the key to his disappointing results this time is not that he is in poor shape, as happened in his last two fast tournaments, because the quality of his game It is quite high after two weeks of vacation in the Maldives. It is true that the Scandinavian is not being precise as a computer when trying to win by exhaustion.
But it is no less true, and this seems the most important thing, that his rivals have defended themselves wonderfully (he recognized it himself), very motivated when they face one of the best chess players in history. And also that Carlsen did not achieve any winning position against any of them.
Donchenko has reason to sleep like a child today, if not prevented by the tremendous excitement that a draw with the world champion must produce, because he has managed to endure brutal pressure for five and a half hours. The worst, in principle, for Carlsen is that he is now forced to score a lot against his tougher and more experienced rivals, but that was rarely a major obstacle for him.
On the contrary, such a perspective would be a psychological problem of the first degree for the fearful Dutchman Anish Giri, who, once again, has offered the draw (to the Indian Pentala Harikrishna) in a lively and very interesting position since Giri himself delivered a pawn for the initiative.
Although there are measures to avoid or alleviate this type of unfortunate behavior (the prohibition of not offering a draw before movement 40, giving three points for a victory as in football, etc.) it is likely that the problem is not fully resolved until the organizers of major tournaments agree never to invite those who defraud fans like this.
Much more interesting was Grandelius’ fight to knock down the 5th in the world, the Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who perhaps was wrong in proposing variants of super acute and highly analyzed openings against clearly inferior opponents in theory. But it is also true that, in addition to an encyclopedic knowledge of that opening, Grandelius finished off his advantage with great brilliance.
After playing for 25 hours in the first four rounds, Spaniard David Antón had another grueling fight, against Tari. In its first phase it was a chess more typical of computers than of humans, fighting against the famous Berlin Wall with which Vladimir Krámnik dethroned Gari Kasparov in 2000.
The truth is that Anton did very well and achieved a clear advantage, but then It got mixed up and reached a demonic ending (king and four of his pawns against a bishop and a pawn) that Tari was able to win, but didn’t see it. And finally the tables were signed, after another almost six hours of fighting.
It is very interesting to see how the prodigious Firouzja alternates two very different styles in this tournament. Today, apparently, it was his turn to play positional – that’s how he beat Antón flawlessly in the 3rd round – and he was always somewhat better against Van Foreest, but the tie was signed in the sixth hour of play.