Carlsen, no win in four games. David Antón is the bottom player after the first day of the three that qualify for the quarterfinals
The signs that Magnus Carlsen is in crisis continue to grow. After losing, less than a month ago, against the American Wesley
So, the final of the first tournament (Skilling Open) of the Champions Chess Tour circuit (fast online games in Chess24), the Norwegian was not able to win any of the four today opening games of the second, the Airthings Masters. With a game much lower than his usual, the world champion even borders on elimination. The Spanish David Antón is last.
Carlsen’s discontent with himself must be very great: today he did not even want to be interviewed at the end of the day by Chess24, a company of which he is the main shareholder. In the opening round, against Armenian Levón Aronian, Carlsen did not see a very easy victory in a single play.
The second was a bland draw with So. He tried to win the third against Azerbaijani Teimur Radyabov, but had to settle for half a point. And in the fourth it was he who forced the tie, against the Indian Pentala Harikrishna.
Eight of the twelve participants after a one-round league will meet in the quarter-finals from the 29th. Antón, invited to this tournament by popular vote thanks to his good play at the Skilling Open, had a hopeful start today: a draw with So after a long fight in which he had an advantage.
But then he conceded a hurtful loss, to Radyabov, for being imprecise in a balanced position. A short-lived draw against Harikrishna followed. And Russian Danil Dúbov beat him brilliantly in the fourth round.
The Airthings Masters is endowed with 200,000 dollars (163,825 euros) of the 1.2 million of the entire circuit. Games are played with 15 minutes per side plus ten automatic seconds after each move. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final will consist of two duels of four games each.
If the score is 1-1, the tiebreaker will be lightning with five minutes plus three seconds per set, eventually followed by a sudden death. The winner will obtain a direct place in the final tournament of the circuit, scheduled for September.
Classification after the 4th round (out of 11): 1st-5th Nakamura, Aronian, Dúbov, Radyábov and So 2.5 points; 6th-9th Grischuk, Carlsen, Harikrishna and Niepómniachi 2; 10th Vachier-Lagrave 1.5; 11-12º Giri and Antón 1.