When Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana met for the world title in London 2018, all 12 of their classical games were drawn and the match was decided by speed games. This week, still ranked the global Nos 1 and 2, they met in another 12-game final in the online $265,000 Clutch International, with a very different outcome. Nine games were decisive in an epic series, and Carlsen had to come from behind to win at the death.
Clutch was the scoring system where the final two games of the day counted double or triple. Although Carlsen won, he had some reservations: “Champions should show dominance over time and also dominance in the critical moment. This particular format means that performing at the critical moments outshines everything else.”
Technically, a point to note for your own games is that both Carlsen and Caruana were ready to advance the h pawn to h6 to weaken the opposing castled king, even with their own king castled short, and this week’s puzzle shows what can happen when this strategy is successful.
Carlsen and Caruana will renew their rivalry again when the Chessable Masters begins on Saturday with 12 elite grandmasters. Move by move commentaries are free and live to watch (3pm start) at chess24.com.
Carlsen v Aronian, Clutch International semi-final. White’s h pawn advance has weakened the black king’s defences, but now Black threatens Qxh6 and also offers to swap queens. How did Carlsen (White, to move) win quickly?
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