It’s important to remember that even the great Bobby Fischer lost chess games. Still, it’s a surprise when it happens to the best player in the world (ratings don’t lie), becomes sort of stunning when it occurs against the 2nd lowest rated player in the tournament (ok, 2740 is no slouch), and approaches astonishment when he loses as White. But that’s what happened to Carlsen today, playing a Symmetrical English against Wang Hao. All the little fishes watching the game with 3000+ ELO computers by their side, cried out that Carlsen blundered in the endgame, and that may be so, but let’s give credit to Hao for finishing off one of the most tenacious players around.
It was a bloody round in general, with only 1 draw out of 5 games. Svidler won, defeating Karjakin (who was leading the tournament) – an impressive feat that almost rivals Hao’s result. Not lost among the stunning news, at least to US chess fans, Nakamura (White) also won today, defeating Radjabov in a Sicilian gone wrong.
Karjakin maintains a slim lead (as his closest challenger, Carlsen, also lost..did I mention that yet?) with 5.5 points, followed by Carlsen and Anand (and a cheer goes up from the over 40 crowd) with 5 points, and Nakamura, Svidler, and Aronian with 4.5 points apiece.
Last round is tomorrow. Can Carlsen bounce back (against a not in top form but always difficult Aronian)? Will Anand prove to the world that he is still worthy of the title? Can Karjakin hang on for dear life against Topalov? Or will Nakamura (facing cannon fodder Jan Hammer) spoil the party? Tune in to find out!