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Weissenhaus Freestyle G.O.A.T. Challenge SF: Carlsen grabs full point using 'Grob'

by Shahid Ahmed - 14/02/2024

Magnus Carlsen (NOR) played Grob to beat Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) in the first game of the Semifinals at WEISSENHAUS Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge. How are we calling it a Grob if Chess960 does not have any theory? Well the world no.1 himself wrote it on the scoresheet. He also explained in a post-game interview, why he decided to play 1.g4. Levon Aronian (USA) avenged his Playoff loss against Fabiano Caruana (USA) in what seemed like a game of conventional chess. Caruana's knight got stuck for the better part of the game and he was virtually piece down. Both Abdusattorov and Caruana must win the second game today to force tie-breaks and keep their chances to make it to the Finals. Semifinals game 2 starts today at 1 p.m. local time, 5:30 p.m. IST. Photos: Nils Rohde/ChessBase

Abdusattorov and Caruana in a must-win scenario

"I was very unsure of what to do on move no.1. None of the traditional options looked too appealing. I thought it made some sense to gain space and put the knight behind the pawn. So I thought it can't be that bad like I'm playing white. What's the worst that can happen. I also saw Nodirbek was discussing the game with Fabi and others, before the game. So let's at least give him something he hasn't thought about." - Magnus Carlsen on his decision behind 1.g4 against Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

Magnus Carlsen (NOR) defeated Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) with 1.g4

Carlsen - Abdusattorov: 1-0

Magnus Carlsen started the game with 1.g4 and Grob's in the opening section of the scoresheet.

Position after 4.Nd3

White was planning to play f4 and then c3 later but he thought that his opponent was a bit overeager. So he felt g4 was fine but the pawn sac wasn't that good. "I think he was really really messy. It was very hard for me to evaluate. I think position definitely had a lot of strategic potential... I never felt comfortable at any point except for at the very end." - The world no.1 added.

Magnus Carlsen on his Grob opening choice (1.g4) against Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Video: ChessBase India
Magnus Carlsen vs Nodirbek Abdusattorov - Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India

Magnus Carlsen at the confession booth during his game

Aronian - Caruana

Position after 35.g6

After 17 moves the game reached a position can arise from conventional chess. White became virtually up by a bishop as Black's knight had nowhere to go after 35.g6. Moreover, it could not venture out as it needed to keep the king guarded. White eventually won the queen and minor piece endgame.

Levon Aronian avenged his seventh round loss in the Playoffs against Fabiano Caruana
When Ding Liren lost a piece in just 8 moves - Commentary by IM Sagar Shah | Video: ChessBase India

Ding Liren blundered a piece within the first ten moves and could not recover for the rest of the game against Alireza Firouzja

Gukesh suffered a 22-move loss against Vincent Keymer

Photo Gallery

The playing area

Can you identify the player in the reflection?

The BMW shuttle waiting for the players outside the venue

The starting position no.652

Magnus Carlsen walks with his significant other - Ella

For more Semifinals and 5th-8th place Game 1 photos, please click here.

"Likely that Freestyle Chess will launch a tour in 2025" - Jan Buettner | Video: ChessBase India
Pushing the quality of chess content creation up several notches - Matthias Wolk from Real TV | Video: ChessBase India


Time: Rapid and Standard

• Round robin: rapid 25 min for the game + 10 sec per move according to A5 of the FIDE laws of chess

• Tiebreak: first direct encounter, second: number of wins, third: Sonneborn-Berger

• Quarter-, semi- and finals: Two games standard 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes rest of the game additional 30 seconds per move


In Case of Tiebreak

1:1 in quarter-, semi-final or final. Tiebreak in the evening:

• two rapid games 15 min for the game + 10 sec per move

• two blitz games 5 min for the game + 2 sec per move

• then one more blitz game until a winner is found

Replay live stream

Replay Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge Semifinals and 5th - 8th place Game 1 live commentary by GM Peter Leko, IM Tania Sachdev and GM Niclas Huschenbeth | Video: Freestyle Chess


9th and 10th February: playoffs for starting order - Rapid

11th and 12th February: Quarterfinals - Classical

13th and 14th February: Semifinals - Classical

15th and 16th February: Finals - Classical

Replay Semifinals and 5th - 8th place Game 1


Semifinal Game 1

Magnus Carlsen - Nodirbek Abdusattorov: 1-0

Levon Aronian - Fabiano Caruana: 1-0

5th - 8th place

Ding Liren - Alireza Firouzja: 0-1

D Gukesh - Vincent Keymer: 0-1




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