Two pawns down against Carlsen — can you salvage a draw?
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The two chess players widely recognised as the greatest of all time, Magnus Carlsen and Garry Kasparov, meet this weekend in their first official game since 2004. Then Carlsen was an inexperienced 13-year-old boy while Kasparov was 41 and a year off retirement. The occasion was rapid and blitz at Reykjavik, where they played three games. Carlsen was crushed twice, but was pressing in the drawn third.
Later, in summer 2009, the Russian briefly became the Norwegian’s coach, but there was a personality clash between Carlsen’s laid-back attitude and Kasparov’s intensity, so they soon parted. They played several informal but very competitive blitz games then in which, as Carlsen put it: “Neither of us likes losing, him especially.”
This weekend's online battlefield will be FischerRandom, also known as Chess 9LX, the annual Champions Showdown organised by St Louis and financed by its benefactor and FT reader Rex Sinquefield. In this format a computer chooses the back row starting array, thus reducing the role of book openings.
Games are live and free to watch with grandmaster commentary at uschesschamps.com. Play starts at 7pm BST each day from Friday to Sunday and continues for about three hours. Besides Kasparov and Carlsen, the strong entry includes America’s world No2 Fabiano Caruana, the reigning US champion Hikaru Nakamura, whose recent marathon with Carlsen attracted record audiences, and the prodigy Alireza Firouzja, who Kasparov has never met.
Vlad Kramnik v Magnus Carlsen, Legends of Chess 2020. Two world champions met, and Kramnik (White, to move) was two pawns down. He played 1 Ne6 and scrambled a draw with difficulty. Can you find the much simpler way to half a point, spotted by the all-time No1 woman Judit Polgár?
Clue: bishop against rook pawn is normally a draw when the bishop does not control the pawn's queening square.
Click here for solution