Hurricane Magnus Carlsen returns to face-to-face chess after 210 days, exposing his undefeated record of 121 games

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The number one has not lost at a classic pace for 796 days, with 40 wins and 81 boards. He is the favorite in Norway Chess, the first face-to-face super-tournament with health protocol.

Magnus Carlsen has not lost a game of chess at a thoughtful and classical rhythm since July 31, 2018. As it is read: he has not extended his right hand as a sign of abandonment and recognition to the opponent for now 796 days. Two years, two months and four days, a pandemic in between, have passed since the Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov he beat it with White in 57 moves of a King’s Indian Defense, at the Biel Festival. From there on, Hurricane Magnus was relentless and built an undefeated record of 121 games. An undefeated who will expose from this Monday, when he plays in the first face-to-face super tournament even with the coronavirus in full swing.

Stavanger, the fourth most populous city in Norway, the birth country of the chubby-cheeked titan, will host the eighth edition of the Norway Chess. Six grandmasters will play two rounds until Friday the 16th, all against all. Yes, face to face at last. Yes, on the board. Yes, moving the black and white pieces with your hands and not with the click mouse. Millennial chess. The one where Carlsen is king by far.

The pandemic closed everything and chess tournaments were no exception. Exploded the world online, as the special Clarín report last July showed, and Carlsen also swept virtuality, but at a fast pace and blitz, the ones that Internet fans are most used to playing.

In Stavanger it was time for the first tournament among the top, with quarantine included, a strict sanitary protocol and live television broadcast for Norwegians, fans of their Magnus.

Carlsen hasn’t played a classic head-to-head game in 210 days. He has not done so since March 8, in the last round of the Norwegian League, as the first board of his club Offerspill, against Manuel Ramírez Garrastacho. It was the last of his 40 wins in this unreleased 121-game undefeated streak, which includes 81 tables.

The record of 111 games without losses he had achieved in January with his tables against the Dutch Jorden Van Foreest in the fourth round of the traditional Wijk Aan Zee Magistral. It exceeded 110 of the Russian nationalized Dutch Sergei Tiviakov in 2015, with 57 wins and 53 tables, and the Croatian Bogdan Lalic in 2007, with 44 wins and 66 draws.

No one can unseat the number one in the ranking since July 2011, 9 years and three months ago. He is world champion at a classical pace since November 2013, when he took the title from Viswanathan Anand in India itself by 6.3 to 3.5. And she defended her scepter three times: before Vishy in 2014, before the Russian Sergey Karjakin in 2016 and before the Italian-American Fabiano Caruana in 2018.

The 29-year-old Norwegian is the absolute dominator of world chess, with 12 titles in a decade. Is that in addition to her four matches won by the reign at classical pace, he achieved three titles in rapid chess (2014, 2015 and 2019) and five in “blitz“(2009, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019).

Carlsen finished 2019 as the world champion of the three rhythms of chess. And now, to play face to face again …

Norway Chess was going to take place from June 1 to 13, but things happened. So Carlsen will play thought chess again from Monday, at a classic pace, face to face against his opponents, far from virtuality.

Unlike the Norwegians Carlsen (defending champion) and Aryan Tari, the four remaining grandmasters had to quarantine at the Clarion Hotel Energy, the venue of the competition, for ten days. There they are the Armenian Levon Aronian, ninth in the world, Carlsen’s first rival, who will play with black, and the protagonists of the other duels: Tari-Caruana (United States; 2nd) and Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland; 15 °) -Alireza Firouzja (Iran; 22nd), who is in exile in France.

“Magnus and Aryan will have a clear advantage. The organizers take care of us, but it will be difficult mentally. It won’t be easy to sit all the time“Aronian told the VG newspaper. Although he reflected the joy of playing face to face:” I was in the Bundesliga and it is different from playing online. When we meet on the board, you can hear your opponent’s breathing and see their reactions. Those factors make it more exciting. “

The chinstrap will not be mandatory, because the players were and will be tested and quarantined, but the length of the tables was enlarged by one meter. “We are worried about a cold. The coronavirus is not the only problem, because a cold would lead to quarantine. We will have a special room in case it happens, ”explained organizer Kjell Madland.

They do not want to leave anything to chance, because Stavanger had 50 infected in the last week of September, more than 4 times than the previous week, the peak since the beginning of the pandemic. Each great teacher is provided with masks, hygiene items and even their own bicycle.

On each matchday, players will have two hours on their watch, plus 10 seconds per move from 40th. Victory is worth 3 points. If there are tables, prohibited before 30 moves, an Armaggedon will be played with the same colors: white will have 10 minutes and black 7, with 3 seconds per move from 41 °. Whoever wins will add 1.5 points and whoever loses, 1. In case of a draw, the victory will be for Black.

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