As reigning world champion and as an all-time great, Magnus Carlsen expects to contend for  tournament first prizes wherever he competes, so the Norwegian’s current victory drought  stretching back to his 30th birthday in November has concerned his supporters. 

In a rare over-the-board tournament defying the pandemic, the low seeded Dutchman Jorden van Foreest provided a shock result at Wijk in January, with Carlsen back in sixth place; while three online events on the 2021 Champions Tour have gone to Wesley So of the US (twice) and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.  

The next $200,000 Meltwater Champions Tour event starts on Saturday afternoon, with Carlsen and So the favourites, and the world champion under some pressure to return to winning form before the eight candidates for his crown gather in Ekaterinburg, Russia, next month to decide Carlsen’s 2021 challenger.

The Tour tournament is viewable free and live with grandmaster and computer commentary on  FT readers who prefer to play chess rather than watch, or know a keen and promising child who would like competitive events, are recommended to visit which has excellent facilities plus helpful and experienced junior organisers. It is rarely too soon to start. One of England’s most promising talents is just six this month.

Puzzle 2410

Nigel Short v Erik Blomqvist, Malmo 2017.  White (Short) to move, has level material, while Black has a menacing back rank attack. What should the former world title challenger play?

Click here for solution

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