Magnus Carlsen has won the first event of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the Airthings Masters, after overcoming Ian Nepomniachtchi with a classy display today.
The World Champion was hugely-impressive in the 16-player online super-tournament knockout stages having struggled at times during the round-robin.
Then on day 2 of the final, after five draws against his Russian opponent, Carlsen turned on the style to break through. In game 6, the 31-year-old marched his king up the board and Nepo’s position was lost.
Nepo had to resign and was left needing a draw in the next game just to stay in it. True to his style, Nepo didn’t play safe and tried to hit back.
Yet Carlsen, who faced Nepo for the world title back in December, did not flinch and turned a piece advantage into the win he needed to secure the title.
The Norwegian said after: “These things are always going to be about whether you can perform on that particular day. But even so my games were going in a positive direction here.
“I felt I was playing better as the tournament went along and that was enough.”
Carlsen paid tribute to his opponent Nepo, but said it just wasn’t his day.
The Russian, who was on fire early on in the tournament and topped the prelims, has been under considerable strain given the events happening in Ukraine, which he expressed considerable unease about.
However, he managed to hold himself together and contributed to a sparkling first day of the final yesterday when the two players were left locked at 2-2.
The Tour will return with the next even starting on March 19.