Offerspill news - week 21

It's been a great week for chess! World Champion Magnus Carlsen continues to impress and is now in the semi-final of the FTX Crypto Cup. Jesper Thybo and Frode Urkedal have played in the European World Cup Qualification tournament, and we are back with a new "opening of the week". Additionally, the May season of the Online League is almost over.

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FTX Crypto Cup: Magnus on form

We may get a World Championship match preview in the final of the Crypto Cup as both Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi made it through to the semi-finals.

Magnus staged a comeback on day 1 against Hikaru Nakamura, and then managed to take down the American in a blitz playoff on day 2.

Check out our recap of their first mini-match here.

The tournament time control is 15 minutes for all moves, with a 10-second increment from per move from the start. No draw offers are allowed before move 40.

Magnus knocks out Nakamura

After four decisive games all favouring the white player on day 1, Magnus and Nakamura started the day winning a game each with the black pieces. The 2nd game was especially sharp with the American filing to find the best moves in a double-edged and highly critical position in the middlegame.

Let's have a look:

Game 2: Nakamura - Carlsen (0-1)

As both the 3rd and 4th game ended in drasws the players got a very short break before the tiebreaks commenced. In the blitz section Magnus proved to be in full control of things and ruthlessly won 2-0 after exploiting some mistakes from his opponent. The playoff was pretty much over after Magnus won the first game and then managed to build up a solid advantage in the second. After a while, Nakamura cracked and dropped a full bishop - enjoy.

Blitz: Nakamura - Carlsen (0-1)

Nepo also needed a playoff to finish off Fabiano Caruana. He now plays Wesley So in the other semi-final, while Magnus is up against Teimour Radjabov.


The first mini-matches in the semi-final ended in a draw for Magnus as Radjabov managed to strike back in the last game, while So edged out Nepo in a tight match after the Russian spent most of his time trying to escape from dive bombing mosquitoes!

Still, everything up for grabs as we go into the deciding day of the semi-finals.

Online League Standings

The May season of the Offerspill Online League is coming to a close.

League standings can be viewed here.

Remember to play in this month's last thematic blitz tomorrow in order to fight achievements and important points in the overall standings.

Current standings

World Champion Magnus Carlsen on 5th place in this season of the Offerspill Online League.

European World Cup Qualification

Our two members Jesper Thybo and Frode Urkedal both recently played in a Hybrid tournament where a ticket to the World Cup was up for grabs. The tournament is not over, but sadly our two members are out of the running after losing their matches against Ozen Deniz (2397) and Andrey Esipenko (2701).

Simen Agdestein from Oslo Schakselskap, however, has been doing tremendously and is currently playing against Russian star Pavel Ponkratov (2624) in the 3rd round. Previously, Simen beat Georgian international master Meri Arabidze (2436) and the French grandmaster Maxime Lagarde (2638).

Everything looked to be going brilliantly in the first match in the 3rd round as well, but unfortunately Simen blundered checkmate in a very advantageous position. A great fight, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that the Norwegian grandmaster can fight back.

Ponkratov - Agdestein (1-0)

All results are available here.

Follow the games on Lichess.

Opening of the Week

The Hippopotamus Defense is this week's chosen opening, and it's a weird one!

This really is more of a setup than a proper opening, but the variation took off in popularity after Boris Spassky used it in world championship match against Tigran Petrosian in Moscow, 1966.

The opening behaves a bit like the hippo does  - you are lying in wait below the waterline waiting for mistakes from your opponent. Black moves most of his pawns to the sixth rank and most of the pieces to the second. The idea is to set up a flexible defense that can adapt to whatever White tries - and punish overambitious moves and mistakes.

Petrosian - Spassky (0,5 - 0,5)

From the world championship match in 1966: The 11th match-game in progress on the stage of the Estrada Theatre (photo: Novosti Press)

Let's look at some light theory as well: