<The onus had been on Wesley So, who was trailing by half a point, to play for a win with the white pieces, so that was the topic of the first few post-game interviews. Vishy Anand mounted the first defence:
"Of course Wesley had White and he could have pressed more, but heís coming off a difficult year and heís having what is really a very good result, tour points, prize money, everything, so I can also understand he didnít want to take excessive risk today."
Then there was Magnus:
"It seemed that Wesley wasnít going to go all-in, thatís not the way he plays, so he just tried a little bit, and I can understand that. Itís not like itís only first place thatís worth something here. Itís a qualifier for the final and heís played an excellent tournament. He thought heíd try a little bit, if I defend well then itís a draw, and I think thatís more or less what happened."
Essentially there was nothing more that needed to be said, but Wesley couldnít help protesting much, much too much! In a short interview he came up with a litany of reasons why he hadnít gone in all guns blazing in the penultimate round:
1.A bad mood after yesterday's bad game (the close shave vs. Nepo)
2.His level of play is getting worse
3.He was playing the best in world, a player 100 points higher-rated
4.He was unsure what opening his opponent would choose
5.He didnít want to play something crazy (sacrifice a pawn!) vs. the best player in the world
6.He was really tired: "As Levon Aronian pointed out, having one rest day in 11 games is not enough". It's 11 games vs. the strongest in the world - "these are not patzers, this is not an open tournament"
7.Magnus wins a lot of games with Black
8.A draw with White is never a bad result given how Magnus is playing
9."I want to be a fighter but also our earnings are based on points", not on wins or losses
10.Ding and Nepo wanted to beat Magnus and now regret it
11.It doesn't matter what colour you play vs. Magnus at the moment
12.Carlsenís chances of winning were higher if Wesley had pushed, "objectively"
13.A quick game meant time to recover and sleep before the key game vs. Aronian tomorrow> (