Qatar Masters 7: Carlsen Gambles And Loses To Indian GM (2024)

World number-one Magnus Carlsen's hopes of making the Qatar Masters 2023 a repeat of his 2015 victory have all but gone after a sacrifice against GM Karthikeyan Murali boomeranged into another loss, this time with the white pieces. GM Arjun Erigaisi is the only top-10 seed in the six-strong leading pack, though GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov lurk half a point behind.

In our Game of the Day, 64-year-old U.S. GM and June 2023 Coach of the Month Gregory Kaidanov shocked 24-year-old Super-GM Jorden van Foreest with the famous Greek Gift sacrifice of a bishop on h7.

Round eight, the penultimate round, starts on Thursday, October 19 at 8:15 a.m. ET/14:15 CEST/5:45 p.m. IST.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Qatar Masters on the Qatar Chess Association YouTube: and on Hikaru Nakamura's Kick channel: Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by IM Irine Sukandar, IM Jovanka Houska, and GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko.

Once again we have to start with the former world champion, since a second defeat for Carlsen in Qatar has now left his tournament defense in ruins. His game against 2611-rated two-time Indian Champion Karthikeyan was the sixth time in seven games that the Norwegian had faced Indian opposition, with Nakamura making clear this was just the beginning. Giri also joined in the fun.

A new plan to defeat Sauron.

The disciples of Vishy.

— Anish Giri (@anishgiri) October 18, 2023

Another interested observer was world number-two GM Fabiano Caruana, whose victory in St. Louis—and events in Qatar—have now brought him within 35 rating points of Carlsen. What caught his attention, however, was the opening.

I'm not saying Magnus losing against the Archangel today is scripted... but I wouldn't underestimate the @chessable PR machine

— Fabiano Caruana (@FabianoCaruana) October 18, 2023

Karthikeyan, who said he was "very excited to play Magnus for the first time," admitted the opening hadn't gone very well for him but revealed his strategy: "My approach was just that I had to complicate matters."

He got a helping hand from Carlsen, who instead of applying maximum pressure, went for 13.Qd3!?.

Carlsen's 13.Qd3?! was a mistake, according to the computer, giving up all of White's advantage: #QatarMasters2023

— (@chess24com) October 18, 2023

Nakamura, who once again recapped the game, described Carlsen's idea as AlphaZero-esque, since the plan was to give up the e5-pawn, with no clear-cut compensation, and push the h-pawn up the board. Then White played as though nothing had happened.

The approach had the virtue of driving Karthikeyan into time trouble, and though there was no advantage for White, the position looked set to simplify into an equal endgame. "I had less time, so I think he wanted to play for more, but it backfired," the Indian GM explained after Carlsen suddenly decided to up the stakes with a sacrifice that turned out to be the beginning of the end: 23.Bxh6?!.

Karthikeyan, who joined a six-player leading pack, revealed how he'd managed to keep things together at the end:"I should not blunder, that’s what I was thinking! Just keep my pieces protected and don’t make any blunders."

For Carlsen, that meant a likely end to his hopes of defending his Qatar Masters title. He now needs to score 2/2 in the final two rounds to have a chance, but he also needs the 17 players with more points to fail.

It's a huge change from the then two-time world champion's performance in 2015, when after a small slip-up in round one things went very smoothly.

Qatar Masters 7: Carlsen Gambles And Loses To Indian GM (1)
Back then, a good start led to five 2700-rated opponents in a row (and the young GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda would be destined for 2700), while this year essentially all the top players have struggled against players rated 2500-2600, so we haven't had the expected clashes of the favorites.

In fact, before the final-round pairings are known, there's been just one all-2700 clash, Iranian GM Parham Maghsoodloo vs. Nakamura. That game was all we could have hoped for, with the U.S. number-two seed covering it in full in the recap above and admitting he "definitely could have lost." Both players missed some wild chances, such as the potential game-changer 11...Bc5!!.

The spectacular 11...Bc5! was the move for Hikaru, but after 11...a6 it's advantage Maghsoodloo again!

— (@chess24com) October 18, 2023

Maghsoodloo is just one of two of the tournament's top-10 seeds to have gained rating in Qatar this time around (+1.6 points). The other, Arjun, is co-leading and has picked up a modest 5.5 points. For the remaining players, there are some painful losses:

  • GM Vladimir Fedoseev: -17.2 points
  • GM Magnus Carlsen: -16
  • GM Nihal Sarin: -15.5
  • GM Jorden van Foreest: -13.3
  • GM Gukesh Dommaraju: -11.1
  • GM Anish Giri: -4.9
  • GM Hikaru Nakamura: -3.1
  • GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov: -2
Qatar Masters 7: Carlsen Gambles And Loses To Indian GM (2)

As you can see, Carlsen has not suffered alone. In round seven, the most dramatic loss came for his world championship second, Van Foreest, who was put to the sword in brutal and brilliant fashion by 64-year-old Kaidanov.

That game is our Game of the Day, with annotations byGM Dejan Bojkov below.

Kaidanov's reward? He has the black pieces against a wounded Carlsen in the penultimate round.

Qatar Masters 7: Carlsen Gambles And Loses To Indian GM (4)

Like Carlsen, Gukesh, who started the month as the world number-eight, has now lost two games, and can also lament with the world number-one that his opponent has played brilliantly in both of them. 2599-rated GM David Paravyan found a brilliant exchange sacrifice that left Gukesh with little to do but desperately try and give back the material.

The woes suffered by Gukesh mean that 53-year-old GM Viswanathan Anand is once again the Indian number-one, at least on the live rating list, with GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu also inching ahead.

Thursday's round eight will be absolutely critical, with the players jockeying for position before the final round.

The standings look as follows with just two rounds to go.

Qatar Masters | Standings After Round 7 (Top 39)

Rk.Seed NoNameAgeSexGrFEDRatingPointsH2HPer.
212GMSindarov, JavokhirU2026585.502805
36GMErigaisi, ArjunU2027125.502784
423GMParavyan, David25995.502782
520GMKarthikeyan, Murali26115.502775
619GMYakubboev, Nodirbek26165.502763
72GMNakamura, Hikaru2780502730
87GMMaghsoodloo, Parham2707502711
93GMGiri, Anish2760502689
105GMAbdusattorov, NodirbekU202716502671
1131GMShimanov, Aleksandr2566502664
1222GMVakhidov, Jakhongir2607502643
1335GMKaidanov, Gregory2554502638
1424GMSethuraman, S.P.2598502624
1511GMOparin, Grigoriy2681502610
1518GMPuranik, Abhimanyu2618502610
1727GMPranav, VU202579502606
1888IMZou, Chen24184.502692
1975IMVaishali, RameshbabuW24484.502672
2025GMJumabayev, Rinat25854.502644
2055IMAhmadzada, AhmadU2024944.502644
2243GMKevlishvili, Robby25214.502641
2316GMSalem, A.R. SalehAr.26324.502631
2428GMVokhidov, Shamsiddin25784.502630
2546GMPranesh, MU2025154.502625
2630GMAditya, MittalU2025724.502622
2737IMMakarian, RudikU2025484.502612
281GMCarlsen, Magnus28394.502610
294GMGukesh, DU2027584.502594
3015GMAryan, Chopra26344.502568
3140GMFawzy, AdhamAr.25354.502562
3259GMAbdisalimov, Abdimalik24874.502553
3314GMAravindh, Chithambaram Vr.26494.502551
3426GMKuybokarov, Temur25844.502545
3521GMGupta, Abhijeet26094.502532
3654GMRaja, Rithvik RU2024954.502512
3758IMSamadov, ReadU2024924.502511
3842GMVignesh, N R25274.502499
3957GMMousavi, Seyed Khalil2492402632

Full standings

Qatar Masters | All Games Round 7

The 2023 Qatar Masters is a nine-round open tournament for players rated 2300+. It takes place in Lusail, Qatar, on October 11-20 and boasts a $108,250 prize fund with $25,000 for first place, as well as a $5,000 prize for the top female player.

Previous Coverage:

  • Round 6: Carlsen Catches Nakamura In Qatar
  • Round 5: Gukesh, Giri Beaten; Narayanan In Sole Lead
  • Round 4: Carlsen Has Great Escape As Nakamura And Gukesh Join Leaders
  • Round 3: Nakamura, Giri Held As Carlsen Hits Back
  • Round 2: Carlsen Criticises Lack Of Anti-Cheating Measures After Stunning Defeat
  • Round 1: Carlsen, Nakamura Start Fast, Fedoseev Falls
  • Qatar Masters 2023 - All The Information
Qatar Masters 7: Carlsen Gambles And Loses To Indian GM (2024)


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