Chess: Magnus Carlsen struggling to find his best form in Azerbaijan

The world No 1 is facing a crunch match against China’s Ding Liren, who is a point behind him and has favourable white pieces

Magnus Carlsen is fighting hard for a strong result this weekend at Shamkir, Azerbaijan, as the world champion, 28, struggles for peak form and a high place in the all-time legends pantheon where chess fans compare him with Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.

Three months ago Carlsen ended an embarrassing streak of 21 consecutive draws. It has been replaced by a positive statistic, 46 consecutive classical games without defeat, still a far cry from the world No 3 Ding Liren’s 100 game unbeaten run against top class opposition, but significantly a personal best for Carlsen, whose track record since 2015 has been marred by occasional defeats against lesser lights.

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