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During his world title defence against Fabiano Caruana in London, Magnus Carlsen was asked to name his favourite player from the past and replied “myself, three or four years ago”. His 12 straight classical draws with his US challenger were part of a record run of 21 consecutive halves that continued in the first five rounds of Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee.
Then it suddenly all clicked again for Carlsen. The Norwegian, 28, began a surge which took him from 2.5/5 to a winning total of 9/13, and first prize in the traditional event for the second year in a row.
It was vintage Carlsen from 2013-15 as he mixed imaginative attacks with his trademark endgame grinds. Particularly impressive was his victory over his old rival Vishy Anand, since the Indian veteran otherwise did well. Their ending began with rook, knight and four pawns each but Carlsen created material gain out of next to nothing.
As in 2018, Anish Giri was runner-up. The Dutchman, 24, is up to No4 in the world rankings and had a fine tournament although with two big slices of luck. US champion Sam Shankland resigned in a totally drawn position while next day Teimour Radjabov offered a draw when winning.
Ahmed Adly v Viktor Laznicka, Erevan 2007. White (to move) sacrificed a knight, and seeks a knock-out. 1 Rxe6 fxe6 2 Ne7+ is tempting, but 2 . . . Kf7! is unclear. What is White’s hidden winning plan?
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