Costly mistake by Carlsen swings lead to Nakamura after day 3

Susan Polgar


Car-razy! Disbelief as Carlsen gifts Nakamura the lead

  • Champ falls to trick in tiebreaker
  • Hikaru Nakamura is now 2-1 up in final
  • Tour Final is best-of-seven shootout
  • Winner will be crowned $1m Tour champion

Magnus Carlsen punched the air in disbelief after his howler gifted Hikaru Nakamura the lead in the $140,000 Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final.

The World Champion stunned a bumper audience watching online as he fell to a simple trick from the American who goes 2-1 up in the best-of-seven decider.

Viewing figures hit new highs as tens of thousands tuned in to watch drama unfold in the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour's dream final between the fierce rivals.

Carlsen had looked exhausted and out of sorts in the first two days of the final with some commentators suggesting his summer of intense online chess had finally caught up with him.

But the champ signalled he was back in the groove straight away on day 3 with an opening game win that was as smooth as silk.

Game 2 then saw Carlsen repeat the match tactic both he and Nakamura have used of, having gone into the lead, piling on the pressure ahead by playing for a quick draw.

Carlsen laughed when it happened yesterday, but this time it was Nakamura who was seen chuckling to himself as the game lasted just 17 moves.

However, with the score 1.5-0.5 to Carlsen and games running out, Nakamura still needed a route back into the match.

And it came. Nakamura struck back in the third with aplomb as he outplayed the champ in a brilliant game which ended with Carlsen resigning in disgust.

With game 4 finishing in another draw, Carlsen and Nakamura headed into a two-game blitz decider.

It was then that Carlsen made his shock mistake, falling into a trap in the first few moves of the first blitz game. Nakamura converted with ease and left Carlsen needing to win the next game on demand.

The Norwegian showed his incredible trademark tenacity in the final blitz game to take the fight to Nakamura but the American matched him and yet another thrilling game ended in a draw.

Nakamura said afterward: "It was obviously a very tricky match and then at the end, it got really crazy."

Nakamura is now 2-1 up in the best-of-seven final with play due to start again tomorrow at 16:00 CEST.

Carlsen and Nakamura's rivalry

Carlsen and Nakamura have a long-standing rivalry. In 2010 they duked it out all night over 40 games in a private grudge match in Moscow.

Three years later Nakamura appeared to put noses out of joint when he likened Carlsen to Sauron from Lord of the Rings.

For many years Nakamura failed to beat Carlsen in an over the board classical match before eventually breaking the spell at the 30th attempt in 2016.

The event carries a total $300,000 prize pot and is the climax of Carlsen's $1 million signature tour, the richest and most prestigious online chess event ever.

Supporting Kiva

Broadcaster chess24 has pledged 50 per cent of new Premium memberships bought during its Tour Final to Kiva’s Global COVID-19 Response fund that aims to raise at least $50 million for entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by COVID‑19.

During the event, chess24 and Kiva will highlight stories where chess has changed people’s lives under the official tournament social media hashtag #ImpactChess.

Viewers are encouraged to engage with the Tour Final and support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by signing up for a premium subscription here.

More details on the Finals

The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour was devised by Norway’s World Champion and chess24 after traditional over the board chess was halted suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tour Final kicked off on August 9 and runs until August 20. It is the culmination of four elite-level super-tournaments that began in March as a way of getting chess started again while other sports worldwide were prohibited.

The first four stages of the first Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour were:

Four players qualified for the final crescendo of chess after being the best performers during the preceding tour events.

They were:

The winner of the Tour Final, which has a total prize pot of $300,000, will scoop a top prize of $140,000 and the title of Champion of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.

A stellar roster of commentators and special guests is lined up for the coverage which will be broadcast in 10 languages by

Tournament rules and schedule

The Tour Final is a 12-day event running from August 9 to August 20. Time control will be a rapid 15m + 10s from move 1 played in the chess24 Playzone.

The semi-finals of the Tour Final tournament were a best of 5 four-game mini-matches. The final is a best of 7 mini-matches. As usual, play will start at 16:00 CEST.