The online 10-tournament Meltwater Champions Tour — which was expected to be a platform for Norway’s world champion Magnus Carlsen to show off his skills to a global internet audience — has turned into a marathon test for the 30-year-old No 1. Carlsen has been pressured by rivals, knocked out early, and increasingly criticised along with others for artificial early draws by repeated position.

The champion had some more narrow escapes this weekend before winning the FTX Crypto Cup, defeating the US champion Wesley So — to whom he had lost two previous finals — in an Armageddon tie-break where Carlsen had more time on the clock but a draw on the board would have counted as a win for So. Carlsen’s play was uneven, but he still won some fine games in the event.

On Thursday, the over-the-board Tour, halted in 2020 by the pandemic, resumes in Bucharest, followed by events in Paris and St Louis. In July, the world chess body Fide stages its World Cup in Sochi, Russia. The women’s Grand Prix in Gibraltar this week has attracted 100,000 spectators on the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

The chess calendar is crowded, as events and organisations compete for attention in the current playing and viewing boom. An incipient turf war may develop as Fide, St Louis and Carlsen’s Play Magnus Group have differing concepts of how the game and its world championship should evolve.

Puzzle 2422

Maxim Matlakov vs Tamir Nabati, European championship, Batumi 2018. White to move. Both players are attacking, and Black has the immediate threat of Qxf1 checkmate. What should White play?

For solution, click here

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