In his last official live tournament before his World Championship Match against Fabiano Caruana, Magnus Carlsen finished the 2018 European Club Cup with a +1 score, after a win against Vladimir Potkin, and five draws against Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Alexander Donchenko, Shak Mamedyarov, Ding Liren, and Peter Svidler.
While not the ideal result that Carlsen was looking for, his Valerenga Sjakklubb team did rather well and better than expected, finishing in a tie for third place with 11 points (record of 5 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss). Carlsen’s team was even in the lead with one round to go, but a loss to Peter Svidler’s Russian team led to a third place result.
Carlsen’s lackluster performance brings even more intrigue to the World Championship Match that is now only weeks away. Carlsen lost 4.3 rating points after this tournament and is now only World #1 on the official rating’s list by 2.4 points over his Challenger, Fabiano Caruana.
The other spotlight of this tournament was Ding Liren’s continued unbeaten streak. Liren is now on a 94-game unbeaten streak, increasing his personal best by six games in this tournament, having last lost a classical game to Anish Giri in August 2017! Liren is one game away from tying Mikhail Tal’s extraordinary record of 95 games in the early 1970’s.