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The Guardian Weekly - 2021-06-11

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CHESS

Diversions

Leonard Barden

Magnus Carlsen’s uneven progress through the online Meltwater Champions Tour, two tournament victories in six attempts, still leaves the world champion in pole position for the 10-player Tour final over the board at San Francisco in September. One of Carlsen’s eccentricities has been his use of 1 b2-b4, the Polish/ Sokolsky/orangutan, a rare visitor to elite chess. Carlsen brought it out yet again in a critical game against Wesley So in last month’s FTX Crypto Cup but then blundered in a level position. Ian Nepomniachtchi finished third, and will face Carlsen twice over the board at Stavanger in September in advance of their $2.4m, 14-game title series in Dubai. In the Crypto Cup 3726 Bebchuk v Bronstein, 1974. Black to move. How did the Russian legend score in style here? qualifying rounds, So won his first two games, defeated an outclassed tailender and drew almost all the rest by familiar patterns. There have been calls for the Tour to ban certain opening sequences, which would be an ineffective remedy as there are many other drawing lines to choose from. Dropping players from the Tour invitation list is the drastic and ultimate resort but this would weaken the Tour’s claim to feature the top players in the world.

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