GMs Magnus Carlsen and Daniil Dubov won their first matches in the semifinals of the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge. Carlsen crushed GM Hikaru Nakamura 3-0, putting the American in a must-win situation on Friday. That’s also the case for GM Ding Liren, who lost 1.5-2.5 to Dubov.
Nakamura played quite well in the final of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, where he put up a great fight against Carlsen. Today, their first match was a lopsided one.
Their first game is the Game of the Day, as it showed superb calculation from the world champion in a bishop endgame. The start of the game was interesting as well: Carlsen brought back the Scotch, an opening he used for a while about a decade ago in the brief period when he was working with GM Garry Kasparov (who popularized the opening himself in the 1990s).
Carlsen’s maneuvering as Black in game two was nice as well. Both sides seemed to be making moves that made sense, but when Nakamura missed a chance for activity, suddenly two of his pawns were incredibly weak while the knight on f5 was surprisingly helpless:
Having been dealt with two blows, Nakamura needed to play for a win but his hippopotamus setup wasn’t very successful and he ended up losing that one as well (see the game viewer below).
Shortly before the first game, Nakamura had tweeted: “Good luck Magnus Carlsen #heritagechess”
— Hikaru Nakamura (@GMHikaru) May 28, 2020
Whether that was intended to influence Carlsen’s play or not, it didn’t harm the Norwegian in the slightest. After his first two wins, when he had a 2-0 lead and before starting game three, he also opened Twitter:
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) May 28, 2020
Carlsen said “monkaS” and nothing else. It’s a typical term used on Twitch by viewers in the chat when a streamer just endured a moment of high tension.
Nakamura recently became the biggest chess streamer on Twitch—so big, that the daily live broadcast with GM Robert Hess and WFM Alexandra Botez, hosted by Nakamura’s channel on the days that he plays, is highly successful and broke 30,000 concurrent viewers on Thursday, a short while after GM Anish Giri tweeted about it:
Hikaru with a much better position at the start of the match. 👇🧐 pic.twitter.com/nfrbmmTNUH
— Anish Giri (@anishgiri) May 28, 2020
The official live broadcast and the show on Nakamura’s channel are quite different from nature, with the official show mostly addressing high-level chess players and the show on Nakamura’s channel being directed to a broader player base. As a result, there seems to be little overlap in terms of audience.
In fact, the numbers of the two channels are reflecting the growing interest in chess in general. This can also be seen from recent coverage of our game in mainstream media, with articles by Forbes, the New York Times, and CNN in just one week.
Back to the chess, and to the other match. Dubov and Ding started with a win each, followed by a draw. Their fourth game seemed to be heading to a draw as well—with an armageddon coming up—when the Chinese GM unexpectedly stumbled in a drawn rook endgame:
On Friday we’ll see the second batch of matches between these players, with Ding and Nakamura needing a win to force a third match on Saturday.
All games of day 9
The Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge runs May 19-June 3 on Chess24 in association with the Lindores Abbey Heritage Society. The prize fund is $150,000 with a first prize of $45,000. The time control is 15 minutes for all moves with a 10-second increment after each move. No draw offers are allowed before move 40.