Usually, when the computer says ‘White is winning’ in a game involving a grandmaster, it is a fair assumption that the game will indeed be won. I was going to say that you could eat your hat if White did not win in such circumstances but I’m steering clear of such rash assertions these days. Without doubt, however, the story that will appear in your chess columns on Monday – or Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever they catch up with Round 7 at the Tata Steel Chess Masters – will be how Magnus Carlsen failed to win his game against Anish Giri. Admittedly, Giri is the draw bore of the modern game, having drawn all his games at the London Chess Classic and the first five in this tournament. Nonetheless, this was the situation after 55…Kg8:
At this point the computer not only had White winning but the rating was 53.12 i.e. as near a dead cert as you can get – and remember, this is the World Champion we are talking about. However, there was a catch. The rating was based on Carlsen playing the ‘best’ move 56. Rc8+ whereby Giri would have to concede Q+R for R+B to avoid mate in three and the game was lost. Of the two best alternatives offered by the computer, 56. Bf7+ was rated at only 2.77 while 56. Rg5+ scored -2.53 i.e. favouring Black. Carlsen chose 56. Bf7+ and 67 moves later the game was drawn. Giri did not spot the mate either and there was an amusing look of incomprehension on his face when the press informed him after the match. However, he considered that Carlsen’s failure to win a mate in three was of greater significance. “This is really the most embarrassing moment of Magnus Carlsen’s chess career, because no-one cares about me, but the guy, you know, is kind of a legend.” It will be interesting to hear Carlsen’s version of events.
Regular visitors to this site may wonder why we are not celebrating the fine tournament being enjoyed thus far by Wei Yi. It is, of course, only the half-way stage and much could go wrong, especially as he still has to play So and Karjakin. Nevertheless, two wins in successive matches puts him joint second after seven rounds. While it is tempting to show either his fine win against van Wely today or his victory against Rapport on Friday, revenge for his World U20 defeat last month, we featured his first win a few days ago so instead let’s indulge in a little schadenfreude and enjoy another great escape, this time by Wesley So against….yes, Richard Rapport in Round 3. For 24 moves this was an equal game at which point Rapport (Black) began to gain an advantage. By move 31 he was ‘much better’ and a move later ‘Black is winning’ (-3.82). Once again, however, the ‘wrong’ move was chosen and after 33…Qf7 and 34…Qg6, the computer now tells us that ‘White is winning’ (4.00). Sadly, for Black it was not just a half-point that was conceded and So, who presumably could not believe his luck, won in 48 moves and now leads the tournament while Rapport languishes in 13th place.
White: Wesley So (2808) Black: Richard Rapport (2702)
Tata Steel Chess Masters 2017