Wijk aan Zee tournament: Carlsen loses twice in a row for the first time since 2015 | Chess News

Many fans will rub their eyes at the sight of Magnus Carlsen in 10th place out of 14 entrants. But it is true, and it comes after two consecutive defeats in the Tata tournament in Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands). And just the day on which the Norwegian’s resignation from the world title has a specific date: May 1, when the World Cup between the Russian Ian Niepómniashi and the Chinese Liren Ding ends in Astana (Kazakhstan). The multi-champion has not lost in two consecutive rounds (in the classic modality) since June 2015.

This defeat for the Scandinavian is very different from the one on Tuesday (Wednesday was a rest day) against the Dutchman Anish Giri. Carlsen then made serious errors that could be clearly detected by a high-level chess player, even if he did not analyze the game with the help of computers. On the contrary, in today’s game you must resort to the modules that calculate millions of casts per second to understand the failures of the still world champion.

The main keys to the surprising outcome are that Abdusattórov, normally very solid and not prone to risk, got -with his 13th move- into a garden full of snakes, where the three results were within logic. There are very few chess stars who dare to do that against Carlsen, although it is also true that in very complicated positions he is not as strong as in calm ones. But challenging him like this is like throwing a glove in his face.

Carlsen accepted the challenge without making any obvious mistakes for 30 moves, but consuming a lot of time. It is likely that the still fresh memory of the defeat against Giri fluttered in his mind and weighed down his thoughts. The truth, without a doubt, is that Abdusattórov moved like a fish in water despite the fact that the sea was very rough. And he emerged from the first time control (two hours per side for 40 moves) with an advantageous ending of queen and three pawns against queen and two.

Wijk aan Zee tournament Carlsen loses twice in a row
Lennart Ootes/Tata

Silicon chess players said at the time that the position was a draw with perfect defense. But Carlsen is human and he was wrong right away. And Abdusattorov took advantage of it as if it were a computer, fast and precise, and without losing the serenity of his countenance. The Uzbek has been in the limelight of foreseeable champions since his gold medal in the 2021 World Rapid Championship, but in the classic modality he had not yet gone that high. With this victory, and his three points in the first four rounds of the Roland Garros of chess, gets into the top twenty (18th) in the world for the first time.

Carlsen lost with great dignity: he shook hands with the winner and discussed some variants with him in a very low voice (so as not to disturb other players) for a couple of minutes. That behavior is striking when compared to the high-profile tantrums after other losses. And even more so if the list of their number of annual lost games (in the classic modality) of the last five years is reviewed: two (of 62 games) in 2018, zero (76) in 2019, two (79) in 2020, two ( 24) in 2021, and one (52) in 2022.

To top it off, the tremendous upset comes just when Carlsen needs to confirm more than ever that he is, by far, the number one, because on May 1 it will cease to be.

Fifth round: Caruana – So, tables; Gukesh – Rapport, tables; Maghsoodloo-Van Foreest, 1-0; Carlsen – Abdusattorov, 0-1; Praggnanandhaa – Giri, draws; Erigaisi – Ding, draws; Aronian – Keymer, 1-0.

Classification: 1st Abdusattórov 4 points; 2nd Giri 3.5; 3rd-5th Caruana, Praggnanandhaa and Aronian 3; 6th-9th Ding, Erigaisi, So and Maghsoodloo 2.5; 10th-11th Carlsen and Rapport 2; 12th-14th Keymer, Van Foreest and Gukesh 1.5.

Sixth round (Friday, 2:00 p.m.): So–Keymer; Ding – Aronian; Giri-Erigaisi; Abdusattorov – Praggnanandhaa; Van Foreest–Carlsen; Rapport–Maghsoodloo; Caruana-Gukesh.

subscribe to weekly newsletter ‘Wonderful play’, by Leontxo Garcia

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits