Magnus Carlsen fought off severe back pain and his big rival Hikaru Nakamura to set up a winner-takes-all Tour Final match for $140,000 tomorrow.
The World Champion grimaced throughout yet still roared back to level the match 3-3 against Nakamura and take the epic best-of-seven final to the seventh day. Carlsen’s injury was sustained just 30 minutes before play when he twinged his back on a beach near where he is staying in Denmark.
He had to constantly adjust his seating position as the match got underway but the injury didn’t stop him playing some of his best chess so far against Nakamura.
The American had gone into the day’s play 3-2 ahead and on the brink of a famous Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour win but found a wounded Carlsen was a different animal.
Asked how he got his injury, Carlsen said: “I was generally feeling great today and then half an hour before the game I was going for a quick swim in the ocean and I started running and something just happened. But there’s a little less pain now than there was before.”
On tomorrow’s do-or-die match, Carlsen added: “It’s obviously going to be tough I feel like every day has been so far and I don’t expect anything to be different.”
Carlsen has been on the back foot throughout the match and was behind for the third time. He had to win today and took an early lead as he crashed through in game 1. From then on there was no let-up for a hopeful Nakamura.
Any thoughts that Carlsen would park the bus in game 2 were quickly dissipated in game 2 as the Norwegian came out swinging. But after appearing in serious trouble as Nakamura fought back, it took an escape described as “Houdini-like” by Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan for the champ maintain his lead with a draw.
With his 1.5-0.5 lead intact and the white pieces, Carlsen decided now was the time to shut up shop and steered game 3 to a 17-move draw.
It left Nakamura in a must-win situation in game 4 if he wanted to settle the match today. Try and he might, the five-time US champ just couldn’t break down Carlsen and fell apart.
Carlsen won to finish off the set 3-1 and draw level in the match 3-3, coming back from behind for the third time. It was the most convincing win so far in this encounter and takes it into a final day of play tomorrow.
Play is due to start again at 16:00 CEST.
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More details on the Finals
The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour was devised by Norway’s World Champion and chess24 after traditional over the board chess was halted suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tour Final kicks off on August 9 and runs until August 20. It is the culmination of four elite-level super-tournaments that began in March as a way of getting chess started again while other sports worldwide were prohibited.
The first four stages of the first Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour were:
- The Magnus Carlsen Invitational
- The Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge
- The Chessable Masters
- The chess24 Legends of Chess
Four players have qualified for the final crescendo of chess after being the best performers during the preceding tour events. The winner of the Tour Final, which has a total prize pot of $300,000, will scoop a top prize of $140,000 and the title of Champion of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.
Tournament rules and schedule
The Tour Final will be a 12-day event running from August 9 to August 20. Time control is a rapid 15m + 10s from move 1 played in the chess24 Playzone.
The semi-finals of the Tour Final tournament will be a best of 5 four-game mini-matches. The final will be a best of 7 mini-matches. As usual, play will start at 16:00 CEST.
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