Magnus Carlsen won Stavanger’s annual elite tournament for the fourth year in a row last weekend, but the world champion described his victory as “hard work” as he edged out Azerbaijan’s Shak Mamedyarov by one point and Vishy Anand by two. He ran out of energy in the final rounds, and will now rest from over the board play until he leads Norway in the 187-nation Olympiad starting in Chennai on July 28.

A decisive moment at Stavanger came in a bizarre incident where the Indian legend Anand, now 52, had a level position against Mamedyarov, who was away from the board. Anand moved Qd3-b5, then immediately noticed that he had allowed a one-move win for his opponent.

As Mamedyarov returned, Anand held out his hand in resignation, but the Azerbaijani had missed the winning tactic and thought that Anand was offering a draw. The entire episode was captured on video.

Later Anand wrote: “If I had seen what I saw while my hand was still touching the queen I could still rotate the queen to f5, but I resigned, which was a slight mistake!” 

The rule is that if you touch a piece then you must move it, unless you have previously said “J’adoube” (I adjust). If the piece is moved to a new square, you can only change it if your hand stays in touch.

This rule is almost sacred for serious players, and incidents from long ago where it was breached are still remembered. At Sousse 1967 Milan Matulovic retracted a blunder against Istvan Bilek with the words “Ich spreche J’adoube”. No official was watching, Bilek’s protests failed, but forever after the Yugoslav was nicknamed “J’adoubovic”.

At Linares 1994, Garry Kasparov took back a knight move against Judit Polgar. His hand quit the piece for a fraction of a second, and a watching official failed to notice, even though Polgar looked at him questioningly. The incident was caught on slow-motion film. Polgar called the then world champion a cheat, and the pair were not on speaking terms for three years.

Two major chess events are imminent. The eight-player Candidates, to decide Carlsen’s 2023 challenger, starts in Madrid on Thursday, while the world Senior (over-50) teams begin in Acqui Terme, Italy, on Monday. England, led by Michael Adams and Nigel Short, are the top seeds.

Puzzle 2473

Vishy Anand v Shak Mamedyarov, Stavanger 2022. Anand (White) has just played Qd3-b5,  What happened next?

Click here for solution

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