Monday, February 18, 2008


Magnus Carlsen - Vishwanathan Anand

Morelia Linares 2008
Round 3


Good day everyone, welcome to the Chessdom live coverage of Morelia/Linares 2008. Anand started win a nice win against Shirov, but then suffered defeat against Aronian after the nasty blunder in a slightly better position. Is he feeling shaken for that reason? We're not convinced, but let's wait and see. Anand won against Carlsen in both games at the last year's event, few weeks ago at Corus 2008, and Carlsen will be seeking for revenge. Naidorf Sicilian or Semi-Slav, it depends on Carlsen's first move.

1.d4 It will be Semi-Slav. Anand has enormous trust in this opening and it brought him couple of important wins on his route to the World Championship title. Still, in the recent Corus tournament, Teimour Radjabov managed to outplay him with white.

1... d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Ne5 ( Already famous Topalov's win against Kramnik at Corus had a different course 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Nxf7 The diagram with sacrifice appeared on the front page of esteemed Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.)

9... h5 Anand already played this move against Aronian at the World Championship in Mexico City and against Kasimdzhanov. They both continued with 10. h4. ( Boris Gefland and Alexey Dreev are usually playing 9... Bb7)

10.f3!? This is older move, 10. h4 being main weapon at the moment. Bellon Lopez is the only Grandmaster that used it, while his wife Pia Cramling played 10. h3!? against Loek Van Wely on one occasion.

10... h4 11.Bf2 Bb7 12.Be2 12. Be3 has been played before, but Carlsen obviously wants to complete his development as soon as possible.

12... Nbd7 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.O-O e5 A standard strike against white's powerful center. Anand doesn't seem surprised with Carlsen's choice of variation, but at the same time his plan is simple: hold the queenside and try to shake white's center...

15.a4 a6 16.d5 White has to press against black's pawn mass on the queenside. Carlsen probably has something prepared against the straightforward 16...cxd5 17. Nxd5 Nc5, so perhaps better idea is to play 16...Nc5 immediately.

16... Rh6!? A common move in similar setups. Maybe Anand wants to prevent any possibility of the future Qd6 from White (play lines bellow). (16... Bc5 17.dxc6 (17.Bxc5 Nxc5 18.dxc6 Bxc6 19.axb5 Qb6! 20.bxc6?? (20.Kh1 axb5 21.Qd6) 20... Nxe4+ 21.Kh1 Ng3+ 22.hxg3 hxg3#) 17... Bxf2+ 18.Rxf2 Bxc6 19.axb5 axb5 20.Rxa8 Qxa8 21.Qd6!?) (16... Nc5!? 17.Qc2!?)

17.dxc6 Magnus finally decided to clean the mess on the queenside, even if Qd6 won't be on his disposal at the end. ( Other possibility was 17.axb5!? cxb5 18.b3!? b4 19.Na4 c3 20.Be3 with unclear consequences)

17... Bxc6 18.axb5 axb5 19.Rxa8 Qxa8 20.Qc1!? Clearly targeting g5 pawn and Be3 might be coming soon. Queen is also cleaning d1 square for the rook. (20.Nd5!? Bxd5! 21.exd5 Rd6 black looking great)

20... Rg6 21.Rd1!? (21.Be3 Bd6!? 22.Bxg5 h3 23.g3 Bc5+ 24.Be3 Qa7)

21... Bc5 The difference compared to the line above (when white takes on g5) is that white can take on c5 and play Qe3 - 22. Bxc5 Nxc5 23. Qe3. In such case, black will probably shuffle his knight to d4 via e6. Magnus is spending lots of time pondering over his next move. He's feeling this might be crucial moment to prove compensation for a pawn.

22.Bxc5 Nxc5 23.Qe3 Nb3 Probably best for Magnus is 24. Qb6 to get behind the enemy lines before knight establishes itself on d4. Black is still better though. (23... Ne6 with same idea to play Nd4, might allow 24.b3 but black comes out on top after (24.Qb6 looks better) 24... Qa3! 25.bxc4 b4 26.Nd5 Qxe3+ 27.Nxe3 Nd4)

24.Qb6 Nd4 Maybe exchange sacrifice before things go too far?

25.Rxd4 exd4 26.Nxb5 Magnus is a fighter, this game will be played on (26.Qxd4 Qa1+ 27.Nd1 Qc1!? and black is slowly infiltrating...)

26... Bxb5! Anand keeps finding the best moves. Queen exchange with 26...Qb7 would make it much easier for white.

27.Qxb5+ Qc6 28.Qe5+ Re6 29.Qxd4 Qb6 Carlsen took off one of the central pawns, but the resulting endgame will be very hard for him, even if all pawns are on the same flank.

30.Qxb6 Rxb6 31.Bxc4 Rxb2 32.g3 Carlsen's main problem is that king is pushed on the back rank. (32.h3 loses, because black will simply bring his king to e3 and g2 pawn will fall.)

32... f6 Taking on g3 would only give some hopes to white. Anand will rather invite white to trade on h4 and break his pawn mass in two parts. Now black king is heading forward to e3.

33.Be6 Ke7 34.Bg4 Re2!? 35.gxh4 gxh4 36.h3 There was no need to rush with h3... If white can trade his e and f pawns for black's f6, he will be very close to achieving draw. Therefore, perhaps 36. Bf5!? with idea f4-e5?

36... Kd6 37.Kf1 Rb2 Okay, maybe 38. f4!? now...

38.f4 Kc5 39.e5 Rb4 40.exf6 Rxf4+ Time contro l has passed and Magnus can carefully consider defending plan. Anand's only chance for a win is to create some sort of zugzwang against white king or bishop. But can he make it? Carlsen also has to keep his king close enough to prevent any kind of sacrifices on h3.

41.Ke2 Kd4 42.Bf3 Rxf6 43.Bb7 Rb6 Tablebases have it as winning for black, but is it possible to find it over the board in a practical game?

44.Bc8 Ke4! Keeps bouncing white king to the back rank.

45.Bg4 Rb2+ 46.Ke1 Ke3 47.Kf1 Kf4 48.Ke1 Kg3 Taking on h3 would be winning, but only if white king is on the d-file. The question is how to make it happen.

49.Kf1 Rf2+ 50.Ke1 Rf4 The idea is to take on g4, play Kg2 and push h-pawn. Black promotes first and with check.

51.Bc8 Of course, Magnus won't let it happen by will.

51... Rf8 52.Bg4 Kg2 53.Ke2 Re8+ 54.Kd3 Kf2! Perhaps black can set position with Re3, when white will have to have king on d2 (to prevent Rd3+), then after bishop moves, black rook uses opportunity to step back, attack the bishop and check on d-file in the next move. That might push white king too far away and allow black to take with rook on h3.

55.Bf5 Re3+ 56.Kd4 Kf3 57.Bg4+ Kf4 58.Kd5 (58.Bd7 Re1! 59.Bg4 Rg1! 60.Be6 (60.Kd3? Rxg4 61.hxg4 h3) 60... Rd1+ is important achievment for Anand)

58... Re5+ (58... Rg3!?)

59.Kd4 Rg5 It becomes similar to the line that was starting with 58. Bd7. Update: Magnus has just resigned. It is obvoius that white king will be pushed on the c-file and then black is free to sacrifice exchange on h3 and win the game. Excellent play from Anand as this Semi-Slav becomes dangerous weapon in his hands. Kramnik will have to invest serious work prior to the World Championship match. Pity for Magnus as his opening variation didn't provide him enough compensation for a pawn. He fought hard till the very end, but Anand is already famous over his fantastic technique. Thank you everyone for following Chessdom live commentary, tomorrow is a rest day, see you again on Tuesday at 16:30 EST / 22:30 CET for the live coverage of Carlsen-Leko.


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