World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen had a long day on
Monday. First he was in Manchester, England, where Kaspersky Lab sponsored an
exhibition game against Liverpool footballer Trent Alexander-Arnold. A somewhat
gruesome encounter ended in a nice pure mate on move 17. Then he caught a
flight to Hamburg, Germany to play against users of his Play Magnus app in the
annual Play Live Challenge. Again he was taking no prisoners, as he needed just
half of his 30 minutes to complete a clean sweep of the opposition.
Magnus Carlsen was a
spectator for the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, but we don’t have to wait
long to see him back in top-level action. He’s playing in the
European Club Cup that starts in Chalkidiki, Greece on Friday. Before that,
however, he found time for some promotional activities as he played two fun
Magnus Carlsen 1:0 Trent Alexander-Arnold
When Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp kept attacking right
back Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench for the top-of-the-table clash with
Manchester City on Sunday, pundits assumed it was because he wanted his team to
play more solidly against dangerous opposition. Perhaps, however, it was to
save the 20-year-old England international for the big game on Monday… against
The publicity stunt was organised in Manchester by Kaspersky Lab, one of the sponsors of the
2018 World Chess Championship match which starts in London a month today. Trent
is a chess enthusiast, but there were concerns he might fare no better than a
certain International Master Lawrence Trent, who managed to lose a 4-game match
to the World Champion despite starting with an extra rook in each game:
Trent Alexander-Arnold wasn’t given a rook, but time odds,
with 5 minutes to his opponent’s 1. He was also given two helpers in the form of
English chess prodigies Shreyas Royal (9) and Kyan Bui (12), who were able to
suggest moves during the game. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he was supposed to
get extra info from eye-monitoring technology provided by 4tiitoo, that would give him advance warning
of what Magnus was planning.
Alas, the game itself started badly for the English player,
and didn’t improve after he left a piece en prise on move 7…
There were two consolations. Firstly, that the final
position was a beautiful pure mate:
And secondly, that Trent had lasted 8 moves longer than Bill
Gates did in a similar time odds game. You can find Jan
Gustafsson’s deep analysis of that game here.
Afterwards Magnus had his diplomatic hat on, with the BBC quoting:
It was a great game, Trent’s good. He has a bit to learn but
he definitely has talent.
Trent is a keen chess player who commented, “when I find the
time I always try to get a game in”. He added:
Football and chess can seem like sporting polar opposites,
but there are so many similarities with the modern game. Technology is playing
an increasingly important role in the life of a footballer and I guess that is
true across most sports now.
There wasn’t much time to hang around for Magnus, since he
had a flight to catch to Hamburg for the Play Live Challenge.
The 2018 Play Live Challenge
The annual Play Live Challenge is an opportunity for users
of the Play Magnus app, which lets you play an AI version of Magnus at
different ages, to take on the 27-year-old man himself. This year there were 12
opponents in the “Spiegelhaus”
in Hamburg for the event sponsored by Der
Spiegel, WorldQuant and Grenke. You can replay all the games using the selector below:
And here’s the live
stream, with commentary by GM Danny King, which includes Magnus Carlsen analysing with the
players after the games:
As you can see,
Magnus doesn’t approach simuls the way some top grandmasters do, giving a
courtesy draw here and there, even if his one of
his opponents was only 9 years old:
Actually if you
wanted a headline for that game it could be, “World Champion misses mate-in-1!”,
though mate-in-2 and a win in 22 moves got the job done.
10-year-old Bennet Hagner from the Frankfurt-based Chess Tigers, impressed Magnus
by playing the Benko Gambit, of which Magnus commented, “I used to love
this opening as Black!” He thought their game was still exciting until move 20:
After 20…Nd3! “probably it’s quite good for White, but to
prove it is difficult with 11 others games and the clock ticking”, but instead
20…Bxe7? 21.Qxe7 Ra7 22.Nh6+! and Black resigned with mate next move.
When Danny King interviewed Bennet and suggested that
winning must be a big reason for playing chess, Magnus intervened:
There are many good things about chess… winning is just part
of the fun – I wouldn’t say it’s the main motivation!
Magnus was impressed by the play of the female players,
particularly that of 21-year-old German Constanze Wulf. He pointed out the
opening with 5.f3, which his opponent didn’t know, meant something to him:
It’s an opening that I’ve only played twice, this game and the
last game against Karjakin in the World Championship match!
In the middlegame Constanze surprised Magnus by finding a
way to sacrifice an exchange and keep in the game. She eventually cracked, but if
everyone had kept quiet she might even have won the game… since the World
Champion forgot that it hadn’t finished! Alas, it was pointed out to him:
The closest anyone came to an upset was Christoph Rottwilm,
who until just before the event only expected to be a spectator:
The first 27 moves had gone well:
If Christoph had retreated his c5-knight here Magnus
admitted he had no clear path to victory, but instead 27…Kf7? 28.Nxa5! dropped
a pawn, when the rest was predictable.
Magnus found time to offend 67 million Frenchman, but it’s
likely his quip was targeted at no more than a couple!
So Magnus had maintained his 100% record in the Play Live
Challenge for another year:
As we mentioned at the beginning, we’ll next get to see
Magnus in action in the European Club Cup, which starts this Friday. The line-up features
18 2700 players!
Follow all the action here on chess24!