Louis Vuitton put a chessboard bag between Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo and surely blew up the Internet. No wonder the chess world quickly recognized the position featured in this iconic photo. It is from a 2017 game between world champion Magnus Carlsen and the reigning Fischer Random chess world champion Hikaru Nakamura.
This chess game closely resembles an El Clasico match that took place on 7 October 2012. The hidden secret is that the two footballers are looking at the position from their opponent's perspective. Although Ronaldo is sitting on the side of white pieces and Messi on the side of black, they represent the opposite colors in their 2012 El Clasico encounter.
After a vigorous start, Ronaldo (black/Nakamura) strikes first. He attacks the white queen with e5 blocking the black squares and somewhat neutralizing the white-squared bishop. He then goes for a queen-side attack attaining a good square (c5) for his knight. It's the 22nd minute and black seems to have grabbed an early advantage: 0-1.
White (Messi/Carlsen) however keeps his composure and prepares for its own attack. He plans to reach b4 with his pawn and steal the c5 square from the black knight. After the knight retreats, white invades the enemy territory with rook c6 and starts causing multiple problems for black. A goal by Messi in the 31st minute. The score is even now: 1-1.
Ronaldo (Nakamura, black) isn't a fan of dull defense, however, so he decides to go for a counter-attack pushing the pawn to f4. Messi, in return, sees everything; he trades the pawns and starts an attack with his queen winning the pawn on d6. A 60th-minute goal puts Messi ahead: 2-1. Ronaldo has very little time to save the game…
Just when it seemed that White (Messi) has consolidated the advantage, Black (Ronaldo) finds a beautiful combination. He goes for Ng4 attacking the f2 pawn and leaving white with no choice but to accept the sacrifice and weaken his king. Black now has a perpetual check which means that the score gets equalized again. Now white (Messi) needs to keep calm and let the game end in a draw, otherwise, he risks getting checkmated himself.
Just like that, a late goal by Ronaldo saves the day for Real Madrid. And although the game ends with an even score, it surely goes down in history as an exciting and action-packed draw.
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