Offerspill news - week 11

A new tournament in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is underway. At the same time we are halfway in the March season of the Offerspill Online League. In this weekly article we'll update you on all the action from these events and more.

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Magnus Carlsen Invitational

The fourth event of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, takes place from March 13th - 21st, with 16 players fighting for a share of the enormous $220,000 prize fund. Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Hikaru Nakamura are the top rated players in the event.

The preliminary stage is an all-play-all tournament, with five rounds played per day before 8 players proceed to the knockout stage.


Antón and Giri voted in by popular vote, while Pichot and Grandelius are late qualifiers.

Tour standings

Day 1-2

Magnus was paired with Tata Steel Chess winner Jorden van Foreest in the first round, but quickly found his mojo and got off to a great start. His opening of choice in this game was the hyper accelerated dragon which isn't very common on elite level, but an opening that has been played a lot at club level for many years. Also, it's a favourite of yours truly. Let's look at how the World Champion patiently outplayed his young opponent:

Van Foreest - Carlsen (0-1)

The second round started with a surprise, as Magnus played the tame 1.c3 against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. According to Chessbase, expert commentator David Howell thought this was could be a way to surprise MVL, or a polite way to let the Frenchman play freely, since he would not need to hide his preparation for the upcoming Candidates tournament. However, it was later revealed to be a mouse-slip. This didn't stop Magnus, though - he played a fine game and eventually won comfortably against the tricky MVL.

Carlsen - MVL (1-0)

Dubov's great escape

In the following position Daniil Dubov unleashed a trick to secure himself a draw against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Russian struggled the entire game, but was sharp enough to take his chance at the end.

Black to play and draw the game.

How do you proceed with black here?

Anish Giri has so far played in all the events of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The Dutch grandmaster has struggled to make it past the quarterfinals where he was eliminated in both the Skilling Open and the Opera Euro Rapid Tournament but now the 26-year old has left a strong impression on the first two days of the preliminaries and leads the pack closely followed by the World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Carlsen did lose a game against leader Anish Giri, but as this was his only loss after two days of play he looks all set for the knockout stages.

Day 3 of the preliminaries can be followed on Lichess and Chess24 from 17:00 CET.


Top 8 players qualify for the knockout stage

Four Knights Thematic Arena

As part of our revamped Offerspill Online League the Sunday Thematic Blitz is back. This past Sunday the chosen opening was the flexible Four Knights Game. We made a short introductory video and article to the opening - recommended if you missed this before the tournament!


Well deserved winners!

The tournament was won by PusheenMeow closely followed by Jeffforever and M-P-M - congratulations! Even though an article on the Halloween Gambit was published to discourage PusheenMeow from unleashing this on his fellow club members he still managed to trick quite a few opponents using this gambit. One example is the following game against the usually so resilient Gvein. After sacrificing a piece in the opening, White did not gain any real attack but managed to exploit a subsequent blunder by Black in the middlegame - ruthless and efficient stuff. However, Gvein is one of the most resilient and toughest players to beat in the club. He fought back and won the game.

PusheenMeow - Gvein (0-1)

Updated standings for the Offerspill Online League are available here.

Visit Montenegro

Maybe this isn't the time or place to recommend travelling all over Europe, but luckily it's still possible to play some chess. Grandmaster and TalentOffer-candidate Jesper Thybo is active these days and will play a strong tournament in Montenegro this month, specifically March 19th - 25th. We will cheer him on and update the site with results and games from the tournament. Click here for information about the tournament.

Carlsen meets Khan

Recently, the World Champion joined the founder of Khan Academy Sal Khan for an enlightening interview. Magnus talked about how "trial and error and irrational confidence" shaped his education as a chess player, how he understands chess more deeply than some years ago, and how he tackles losses. He also feels that some young players could profit from stuyding the classics in order to improve their basic understanding of chess, which is very interesting in this "information and computer age" of chess and society as a whole.

The interview is available at Chess24 - it's thoroughly enjoyable.