Offerspill news - week 12

World Champion Magnus Carlsen finished third in the recently finished Magnus Carlsen Invitational. Meanwhile, Jesper Thybo has been playing a top tournament in Montenegro. Also, Carlsen participated in the Offerspill Online League and was cruising towards victory, but was beaten at the finish line.

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Magnus Carlsen Invitational

Both the preliminaries and the knockout stage of the most recent tournament in the Champions Chess Tour was a blast. Radjabov, a heavy hitter in the tour, didn't make it past the preliminaries. Russian wonderboy Daniil Dubov suffered the same fate, as did the Minister of Defence Sergey Karjakin.

Eventually, only four players remained. World Champion Magnus Carlsen faced one of his biggest competitor from childhood Ian Nepomniachtchi while Anish Giri went head to head against tour leader Wesley So.

We'll focus on Magnus' efforts in the semi final and bronze final, but both Chess24 and Chessbase have detailed reports of the whole tournament.

Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi

After losing the first of two mini matches the World Champion left himself with plenty of work to do against his Russian rival. However, Carlsen showed his class with an epic fightback - it all came down to a final blitz match. Unfortunately, Magnus didn't manage to complete the turnaround and lost an exciting match.

Let's have a look at the deciding blitz game. Magnus had the white pieces, but ended up pressing too hard for a win which gave the Russian counterattacking chances in the endgame.

Bronze final vs nemesis So

As Wesley So lost his semi final match against Anish Giri we got an opportunity for revenge for Magnus in the bronze final. So has made beating Magnus in important matches a habit recently and no doubt had ambitions to repeat the success of the Opera Euro Rapid in February.

Luckily, Magnus recovered with a thumping win against tour leader So. An important win as this gave the World Champion valuable points in the overall tour standings.

Yours truly wrote a short article on the Four Knights Game recently, so it was a pleasant surprise when Magnus utilized this, albeit with a small twist.

The World Champion makes everything playable.

4.a4!? in the Four Knights is a thing now, apparently. 

Coincidently, this was perhaps the most brutal attacking game of the whole tournament - Wesley So didn't last more than 23 moves before getting mated in the middle of the board. An amazing feat which set the tone for the bronze final. Magnus didn't look back and won comfortably without losing a single game. Carlsen is now 2nd in the overall tour standings only 5 points behind So.

Finals bracket

Let's have a look at how dangerous the Four Knights can be in the hands of Magnus:

Solid, but still no tournament win for the World Champion in this year's tour.

Giri wins - now fourth in the tour standings.

Anish Giri defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi in tiebreaks to win the event. This brought the Dutchman up to 4th place in the overall tour standings while Nepomniachtchi occupies 5th place.

The second half of the Candidates Tournament will be played in Yekaterinburg, Russia next month. With seven rounds left to play, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are sharing the lead, a full point ahead of four players currently on fifty percent. MVL has been in horrible form for a while now, but might have been saving his energy for the Candidates. Anish Giri on the other hand, the winner of the second edition of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, is one of the four chasers and looks to have timed his form to perfection with this impressive display. The winner of the Candidates tournament earns the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen to a match for the title - a match that is scheduled for November 24th - December 16th in Dubai.

Anish Giri looks more than ready for the upcoming Candidates tournament.

Giri also tied for first place (but lost the tie-break) at the Tata Steel Masters in January, so he looks sharp in classical chess as well.

Tour of Montenegro with Jesper

Grandmaster and TalentOffer candidate Jesper Thybo is one of Offerspill's best players and is now playing an open tournament in Montenegro that includes several strong grandmasters. The event commenced 19th and ends on the 25th of March.

Jesper is probably not completely content after 6 rounds with a couple of draws too many, but the result is solid with a lot of potential in the finishing rounds. In round 7 our Danish grandmaster faces Turkish grandmaster Şanal (2571).

Full results are available here.

World Champion pays Online League a visit

Magnus Carlsen entered late, but stormed away with a series of beautiful wins in this week's first Online League tournament. Even though the time control of the event was bullet (1+0) Magnus more often than not "berserked" - this entails losing half of your clock time, but a win is worth one extra tournament point. However, so did Sergei Zhigalko (Zhigalko_Sergei), a strong Belarusian grandmaster who is especially proficient in fast time controls online.

Standings - podium

A strong podium to start this week's Online League tournaments.

Full results for the tournaments are available here.

Sunday Thematic Blitz Arena

On Sunday we finished last week's tournaments with a Thematic Blitz tournament, as usual. The chosen opening for this week's tournament was the seemingly passive, but poisonous Alekhine's Defence. We recorded a short introductory video that was available for all members before the tournament - have a look if you haven't caught it yet.

The tournament got a surprise winner - Anders Hagen (Mennyhagen)!
Hagen just managed to sneak ahead of Online League expert Kenneth Gvein (Gvein) and won the event with a 2 point margin.

Standings - podium

Check out all individual results and games from the tournament here.