Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, has been in stellar form in the last two weeks, yet paradoxically his 13-match online victory sequence included one of the worst blunders of the 29-year-old Norwegian’s career.

The occasion was the ongoing $150,000 Legends of Chess tournament, where most invitees are famous names in their forties and fifties, led by two former world champions.

When Carlsen met Vasyl Ivanchuk, the veteran Ukrainian who has beaten him in the past, their first game reached a climax where the No1 made the monumental blunder in this week's puzzle. The video showed Carlsen slumped in his chair while Ivanchuk looked in disbelief before joyfully making the winning move.

Champions are resilient, and Carlsen fought back to win the mini-match 3-2. Despite a few hiccups, he has dominated opponents and won in elegant style against China’s world No3 Ding Liren, who was handicapped by playing deep in the night. 

The semi-finals and final will be played from July 31 to August 5 on with free and live computer and grandmaster commentaries. Later in August England's full-strength national squad, seeded 17th of 163 teams, start their campaign in the online Olympiad.

Puzzle 2378

Magnus Carlsen v Vasyl Ivanchuk, Legends of Chess 2020. White (ro move) can win if his queen supports Rf7, when Black’s queen is trapped. Carlsen's choice is 1 Qe8, 1 Qe6 or Qb3.

All three look good, but one is a horrific mistake. Which is the blunder, and what happened when the world champion played it?

Click here for solution

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article