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Is Carlsen out of Form in Norway Chess?

Magnus Carlsen is playing in his last big event before the World Chess Championship Match and appears out of form, almost losing to Alireza Firouzja and Aryan Tari in Norway Chess Tournament. He barely survived both games on luck, according to Twitter commentary. Carlsen will have to level up his game before facing Nepo in less than 80 days.

Photo by Lennart Ootes

Carlsen probably sees Norway Chess, a tournament he won many times, as a good training session before the Match given the absence of over-the-board games in the last two years, but it seems much more than that now when Carlsen’s play is less than inspired.

In the first round, Carlsen faced Firouzja, whom the chess pundits call the Champion’s heir-apparent (and they are probably right!). After drawing their classical game, Carlsen found himself in a dead-lost position in the Armageddon decider game, which he surprisingly managed to survive. Firouzja is well known for his fearless approach to any top GM and is a master of quick-play, but in the end, Carlsen managed to defend.

Photo by Lennart Ootes

The same defensive skills (or luck!) kept Carlsen alive at the classical game in the 2nd round of Norway Chess against Aryan Tari. The two Norwegian GMs had a rather complicated match, with Tari missing an incredible chance of capturing Carlsen’s queen and eventually winning the game. Even without this missed tactical opportunity, Carlsen ended up fighting a Two Rooks against a Queen endgame, which allowed him to “steal” the desired half-point from Tari, after a sharp battle.

Carlsen is a brilliant chess player, the strongest in a generation, but form and mood affect the players’ game. Based on his performance in Norway Chess, Carlsen appears to be in bad form, but his supply of luck remains intact.

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