Norwegian chess star Magnus Carlsen at play over the board
Magnus Carlsen competing at the Tata Steel chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands © ANP/Agence France Presse/Getty Images

Magnus Carlsen has had a rollercoaster ride in the past few days at Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee, the most competitive event on the international chess circuit. Norway’s world champion, 32, has formally renounced his title, but remains No 1 in the rankings. He has won Wijk a record eight times, and has finished below second only once in his last 12 attempts.

That proud record was in danger when Carlsen lost in successive rounds to Anish Giri of the Netherlands and then to Uzbekistan’s Nodirbek Abdusattorov, 18, who has emerged as a leader of the new teenage generation of grandmasters.  

Three days later, after two wins and a draw, Carlsen’s optimism was back. After eight of the 13 rounds Abdusattorov had an unbeaten six points, but Carlsen is  making a strong recovery.  

The final two rounds are on Saturday (1.15pm GMT start) and Sunday (11.15am start).  They  can be viewed live and free on, with grandmaster commentary by Peter Svidler and David Howell.

Central Asia is fast becoming a leading chess centre. Uzbekistan are Olympiad champions, and Abdusattorov is a potential world No 1. Neighbouring Kazakhstan will host the €2mn Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Ding Liren world title match, starting in Astana on April 7. The series is sponsored by Nasdaq-listed Freedom Holding Corp, a financial services firm which also backed last month’s World Rapid and Blitz Championships, both won by Carlsen.

Puzzle 2504

Hugh Alexander vs Edward Marshall, Cambridge 1928. White to move and win. Alexander, the then future British champion, FT chess correspondent and Bletchley Park and GCHQ codebreaker, wanted to checkmate his opponent on the g1-g8 file. It can be done, but White has to be careful to avoid a couple of sneaky traps. Can you break the code?

For solution, click here

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