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Andrey Esipenko beat GM Magnus Carlsen, while Alireza Firouzja gained his sole lead defeating Pentala Harikrishna at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021
Andrey Esipenko provided the tournament highlight as he defeated world champion Magnus Carlsen in their first-ever clash in classical chess during the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021.
Alireza Firouzja also grabbed the limelight as he achieved sole lead by beating Indian chess maestro Pentala Harikrishna in his third successive win. His stellar performance has gained him 11.8 rating points, which have helped him climb to 14th spot in the live ratings list.
With his win, 18-year-old Esipenko joined the four-player chasing pack which also includes Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana and Jorden van Foreest.
It was a rare moment of loss for GM Magnus Carlsen as this was his first match against Esipenko. Carlsen was unbeaten for 125 games between July 2018 and October 2020. Post this defeat, Magnus Carlsen stood a full point behind leader Alireza Firouzja after losing with the black pieces against Esipenko.
An early mistake by Carlsen was largely responsible for Esipenko’s win. A move of his resulted in him sacrificing a strong piece on b5 and immediately after that, Esipenko finished the game on a victorious note, delving several match-winning moves on his final victory run.
This was Carlsen’s sixth loss in the main group of the Tata Steel tournament. This is indeed a surprising info since this is the 14th time he plays in the ‘A group’ for a total of 177 games. He had not lost a single game in Wijk since 2017 and had not lost to a player rated below 2700 since 2015.
Had a very unpleasant experience at the playing hall today, felt like a swab was being shoved into my nostril and all the way inside my brain, causing a lot of pain. Covid test after the game was not that bad though #TataSteelChess
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) January 24, 2021
“Before the game, I wanted to play solid,” said Esipenko. “I think it was his choice to beat me with this opening probably, and I just played very logical. After the opening, I thought maybe I’d have some chances because it’s really an initiative position. After I sacrificed my piece, I felt like I could do something in this game.”
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