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Airthings Masters R9-12: Carlsen is down with Covid, still climbs to second spot

by Shahid Ahmed - 22/02/2022

Ian Nepomniachtchi increased his unbeaten streak to eleven games at Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Airthings Masters. He defeated Kosteniuk, Niemann, Praggnanandhaa and drew with Artemiev and Liem on the second day to maintain his sole lead 27.0/36. Praggnanandhaa started the day with a draw against Abdusattorov, then he defeated Esipenko, lost to Nepomniachtchi and finished the day with a win over Kosteniuk. He moved to 12th position with 15.0/36. The 16-year-old prodigy needs to finish in top eight in the Prelims to advance to the Knockout stage. Round 13 starts tonight at 10:30 p.m. IST. Photo: chess24

A draw out of respect?

It is no secret that Magnus Carlsen is the true successor of Vishy Anand as the world champion of chess. Over the years, the world no.1 has shown why he is a great ambassador of the sport by making various gentlemanly gesture and doing right by his colleagues. One of the best player in the world, currently world no.3 missed two consecutive years of his prime to be eligible to qualify for the Candidates 2022. Of course, this does not sit right with the world no.1. Thus, we witnessed the shortest draw of the event so far between Carlsen and Ding Liren which lasted only 11 moves.

Magnus Carlsen is down with Covid-19, but that does not stop him from climbing the points table | Photo: chess24

Ian Nepomniachtchi maintains his sole lead 27.0/36 | Photo: chess24

Round 9: Praggnanandhaa - Abdusattorov: 0.5-0.5

Praggnanandhaa drew his first game of Day 3 with the newly crowned World Rapid champion, Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB).

Position after 33...Bb4

34.e5 was the only opportunity White had in the entire game to create some imbalance and make things interesting. 34.e5 gxh4 35.exf6 Bc3 36.Bxh6 looks favorable for White but certainly not easy to get anything out of it. Similarly 34...fxe5 35.hxg5 e4 36.Ng1 is another variation where it can be said that White has a slight edge. The game eventually ended in a draw.

Why Carlsen is the Endgame GOAT | Liem Quang Le vs Magnus | Video: ChessBase India

Round 10: Carlsen - Hansen: 0-1

Magnus Carlsen blundered a pawn and then a piece before resigning against Eric Hansen (CAN).

Position after 30.Rb1

30.Rb1 cost White the f4-pawn 30...Nxf4 31.Qf1 Qc3 32.Bb5 Ng6 and then White blundered the entire bishop 33.Bxa4 and he resigned immediately. It was evident that the world champion is afflicted by the Covid-19 virus as he mentioned in the post-match interview.

Eric Hansen defeats Magnus Carlsen | Video: ChessBase India

Esipenko - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Andrey Esipenko (RUS) had an early advantage in the middlegame against Praggnanandhaa. However, the Russian prodigy was unable to extract anything out of it and the 16-year-old boy from Chennai managed to seize his own opportunity.

Position after 21...b5

White was at a crossroads. The decision between 22.Bxc5 and Rxa8 was not an easy one. In the end, White went with 22.Rxa8 which turned things in Black's favor. 22...Rxa8 23.Na3 c4 24.dxc4 b4 25.Nab1 Ra2 26.Nb3 Rxb2 27.N1d2 Rxc2 put Black in the driver's seat. Praggnanandhaa does not miss these opportunities as he converted them into a win like a breeze.

Why was the Russian youngster so unhappy? | Video: ChessBase India

Round 11: Praggnanandhaa - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1

Praggnanandhaa suffered his first loss of the day against the former world champion challenger, the in-form Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS).

Position after 26...Nd4

It was a critical moment where White should not have taken on d4. 27.R3d2 or Kf2 would have been a safer choice. White does not need to be bother about losing a pawn at f5 because Qxf5 will be met by Rd8. 27.Bxd4 allowed Black to gain decisive advantage 27...exd4 28.Kf1 g6 and Black went to convert it into a win.

Round 12: Kosteniuk - Praggnanandhaa: 0-1

Reigning World Rapid and FIDE Women's World Cup 2021 winner, Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) is perhaps having the most challenging tournament of her career. She suffered twelfth consecutive loss of the event. It was Praggnanandhaa who claimed victory in round 12.

Position after 28.b4

White did not play on the advantage of her position. Instead, she opted for 28.b4. Find out how can Black take advantage of it.

Round 10 in progress | Photo: ChessBase India live stream
Magnus Carlsen: "Every time I tried to think, I blunder!" | Video: chess24

Magnus Carlsen is now part of the Puma family. Puma has also partnered with Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and Play Magnus. This is certainly a good news for the sport. More sponsors getting into the game helps the sport overall.

Replay the live stream

Airthings Masters 2022 Round 9-12 Live commentary by IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 9-12 games

Standings after Round 12

Ian Nepomniachtchi maintains his sole lead 27.0/36 | Photo: chess24

All games will start from 10:30 p.m. IST between 19th and 26th February 2022.


Official site

Tournament regulations

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