File image of Magnus Carlsen (TOI Photo)
CHENNAI: Magnus Carlsen, the world’s most ruthless chess player, has been widely praised after he showed incredible sportsmanship to resign on move four of a game on Tuesday night.
The world champion provided a moment of magic in the $150,000 online Chessable Masters as he intentionally gifted rival Ding Liren a point in their high-stakes semifinal clash. It came after the Chinese No. 1 suffered an unfortunate disconnection at a vital moment during Tuesday’s play.
But while moments of mercy are rare in elite-level chess, that didn’t stop Carlsen wanting to make amends. Ding, playing behind his country’s notorious internet firewall, has been plagued by connection problems throughout the online super-tournament. In the pair’s opening game, Ding found himself down to his final few seconds on the clock when disaster struck. Despite fighting back to a seemingly drawn position, Ding had to forfeit the game as there was no chance he could reconnect in time.
In the next game, Carlsen then deliberately lost his queen and resigned on move four to give the point back and level the score at 1-1.
In the other semifinal, Dutch No. 1 Anish Giri took a first-day semifinal lead against Russia’s No. 1 Ian Nepomniachtchi. Fresh from sparring with Carlsen on Twitter, Giri took the second game and then the final game to steer the set towards a 3-1 win.
Nepomniachtchi needs to win on Wednesday’s set to stay in the semifinal and take it to a decider on Thursday, or Giri goes through to the final.
Carlsen applauded for his sporting gesture
Carlsen’s ability to lord it over his opponents has been widely documented for years now.
The Norwegian was widely praised on Twitter by fans and players alike for his action. Fellow tournament competitors Teimour Radjabov and Pentala Harikrishna responded by saying “great gesture!” and “respect!”.
Carlsen said afterward: “I have immense respect for Ding as a chess player and as a human being and I thought against him this was the only correct way and clearly I wanted to win on the board.”
He added: “I might have kicked myself if I’d lost one of the last two games but I think in general it was the right thing to do.”
In the commentary box, International Master John Bartholomew said: “That’s very consistent with Magnus’s character. He likes to win fairly.”
Anish Giri all praise for Carlsen
Carlsen and Giri have never shied away from having a go at each other. But on Tuesday night, Giri was all praise for Carlsen for the sporting gesture he showed.
Giri, in his inimitable style, praised Magnus for his lovely gesture.
“Today, Magnus has shown such a good side. I should be very careful that if I make a remotely hurtful joke I will be killed,” said Giri.
On a serious note, Giri felt that not many players would have done what Carlsen did.
“I don’t think many would have thought of this possibility. I have never done such a thing. What Magnus did wouldn’t have been done by many other players,” Giri added.
Carlsen, on his part, congratulated Giri on his splendid performance against Nepomniachtchi.
“I haven’t had a chance to congratulate Anish in what seemed like a commanding victory today. Meeting Anish is still my dream final,” he said.
The Chessable Masters, which runs until July 5, is being put on in association with Chessable and the tour’s Education Partner, leading Swiss private banking group, Julius Baer.
The winner will take home the top prize of $45,000 and a ticket to the $300,000 tour Grand Final.