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New in Chess Classic SF Day 1: No one is invincible

by Shahid Ahmed - 30/04/2021

The day of making simple Berlin draws or playing fun openings are gone because it's the Semi-Finals of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour New in Chess Classic which means the gloves are off and it's time for bare knuckle brawl. That's exactly what happened as everyone lost at least one game in the Semi-Finals including Carlsen and Nakamura who were undefeated till Quarter-Finals. While Carlsen and Aronian traded blows to tie the first set 2-2, it seems like Nakamura got the better of Mamedyarov as he won the first set by 3-1. The second set of the Semi-Finals continue tonight from 10:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess

Mamedyarov at the brink of elimination

Semi-Final Day 1 was full of exciting games as everyone went for the proverbial knockout punch in most of the games. A staggering 75% of the games were decisive should give you a clue about how the games were. Sure there were a few simple errors but there was no mouse slip. Carlsen met his match in the form of Aronian who after making two draws erred in the endgame and lost a drawn game but he immediately bounced back to level the score by beating Carlsen in the fourth game of the first set. Mamedyarov managed to score only one win in the second game but lost the remaining three. 

Carlsen-Aronian had an exciting first set | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess

Carlsen - Aronian: 2-2

The first game between Carlsen and Aronian was a topsy-turvy affair.

Carlsen - Aronian, Game 1

Position after 16...Bxf5

White could have made things a little bit difficult for black with 17.e4. The game continued with 17.d5 and black immediately got rid of the bishop with 17...Bxd3.

Position after 27.b5

Black has a very stable position but white's trying to destabilize it with 27.b5 followed by b6 break. What should black do here to prevent it? Black played 27...h5 and white went with the plan of 28.b6 and disintegrated the center. Thus black lost the advantage and the game ended up in a draw eventually.

The second game was a quiet draw. Just when everyone thought third game will also end up in a draw, Aronian blundered in the king and pawn endgame.

Carlsen - Aronian, Game 3

Position after 43.Kxd2

Find out the only way for black to save this game and make a draw after 43.Kxd2. Thus Carlsen took a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth game, it was Carlsen who made a positional mistake first.

Aronian - Carlsen, Game 4

Position after 18...Qb7

18...Qb7 allows white to gain the much needed upper hand. Find out how. Later the world champion managed to equalize in the endgame but only to make another mistake in the final moments of the game.

Position after 54...Bb6

54...Bb6 is the final big mistake by black. White can now use the power of bishop pair to win the game with 55.Bd6. Aronian won the game and levelled the first set 2-2.

Nakamura - Mamedyarov: 3-1

Nakamura showed beautiful technique in the endgame to convert his advantage into a victory.

Nakamura - Mamedyarov, Game 1

Position after 22...Bc5

What should be the correct plan for white after 22...Bc5 ? Nakamura eventually gained connected passed pawns on the queenside for which Mamedyarov had to sacrifice his knight.

Position after 52...h6 from yesterday's game and on the right hand side we have the game between Mamedyarov and Nakamura from Tromso Olympiad 2014 after 39...Rf2

It is quite rare that similar position occurring in a game after seven years between the exact same players but color is reversed. Peter Leko first pointed out this amazing fact during live commentary. Do you think the players remembered this? Nakamura this time did not use the same idea, he went with a longer plan starting with 53.Ke5. What was the quicker way for white which Mamedyarov implemented seven years ago?

Mamedyarov immediately struck back in an explosive second game and levelled the score 1-1.

Mamedyarov - Nakamura, Game 2

Position after 24...Ng7

Things started to go downhill for black after 24...Ng7. Find out why it is a big mistake.

In the third game, Mamedyarov had a momentary blindspot which cost him an exchange and eventually the game.

Nakamura - Mamedyarov, Game 3

Position after 28...Nf5

Of course Nakamura is not going to squander these easy tactics after 28...Nf5. He won the game with ease and took 2-1 lead.

Mamedyarov and Nakamura repeated first 18 moves of their second game in the fourth game.

Mamedyarov - Nakamura, Game 4

Position after 18...exf4

Nakamura deviated from his second game move 18...Qe7 to 18...exf4 but the Azerbaijan no.1 made a questionable decision to sacrifice an exchange to get an attack on the kingside.

Position after 20.fxg5

20.fxg5 lacked power to the punch which resulted in white getting bruised and Nakamura winning the first set by 3-1.

Will Mamedyarov bounce back and see himself through the Semi-Finals? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Replay all Semi-Final Day 1 games

Replay the live stream

$1.5M Meltwater Champions Chess Tour: New In Chess Classic | SF Day 1 | Peter Leko and Tania Sachdev | Video: chess24

Semi-Final Day 1 Results

Nakamura wins the first set against Mamedyarov | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

Schedule

Everyday game starts at 10:30 p.m. IST

Links

Official site

Tournament Regulations


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