Carlsen crushed the competition on the final day to win Steinitz Memorial Online
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Carlsen waltzes to victory in Steinitz Memorial
Magnus Carlsen brought the FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial to a fitting end with a crushing win in the inaugural event held to honor his predecessor. The 16th World Champion echoed the dominance of the first undisputed king of chess, Austrian great Wilhelm Steinitz, as he waltzed to victory.
Carlsen had led the field after the first day's play but was overtaken yesterday by Russia's former World Champion in rapid Daniil Dubov. However, the young pretender's challenge quickly fizzled out today as he lost three straight games against fellow Russian Alexander Grischuk, China's Bu Xiangzhi and the American teenager Jeffery Xiong.
In the Bu game, in particular, the under-pressure Dubov played a shocker. IM Lawrence Trent, while commentating, likened Dubov's dramatic slump to an "English batting collapse" - a phenomenon well known to cricket fans.
Meanwhile, Carlsen benefitted from another shocker played by Grischuk on Game 15. In the chess24 commentary box, GM Peter Leko was absolutely brutal in his assessment of the out-of-form Grischuk's play. "This is unbelievable," he said. "Black is absolutely toast! This is the worst ever King's Indian!"
Carlsen was cruising ahead on 10/15 while Dubov fell back to second on 9/15. Yet in Round 17, Dubov had one last chance to get back in it as he faced tournament leader Carlsen. Dubov had to win and win again in Round 18, while Carlsen had to lose both. It was highly unlikely. Carlsen duly closed out the draw to secure the title with a round to spare.
The champion was downbeat in his interview after the match and typically hard on his own play. He said: "I was terrible from start to finish. The result is OK, so I move on."
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich paid tribute to the quality of play and the consistency of the top players. "No matter whether it's online or offline the same guys win the tournaments," he said.