Magnus Carlsen - Evgeny Alekseev
Biel Chess Festival
Good day everyone, welcome to the Chessdom live coverage of Biel International. Alekseev won one game against Carlsen back in the 2004 at the junior event, but all of their recent games ended in draws. It is possible that they will continue discussion in the Queen's Indian defence. Enjoy the game!
1.e4!? No QID this time..
1... e5 Nowadays, on the top level e5 is almost more popular than Sicilian defence. The main reason is that White still haven't found clear ways to achieve advantage against Ruy Lopez Marshall attack.
4... Bc5 5.Nc3!? The position now resembles some variations of Four Knights opening, rather than Ruy Lopez. The more flexible solution is to castle and keep the option of playing c3. Carlsen obviously has different intentions. GM Emil Sutovsky liked to play 5. Bxc6 here.
5... O-O It is interesting to point that Alekseev himself played this position with White, last month at the Foros Aerosvit. In the game against Pavel Eljanov, he continued 6. 0-0 and after Nd4 we saw a classical Rubinstein counterattack in the Four Knights. That game finished in quick draw. Mikhail Chigorin played 6. Bg5!?
6.Bxc6!? Carlsen goes another way.
6... dxc6 The pawn structure is similar to the Ruy Lopez exchange variation, but the difference is that Black didn't play a6 and it will be harder for White to prepare d4. On the other hand, Black Knight would be much happier on e7.
7.Nxe5!? Now this is brave! White is picking up the fight before bringing the King into security. Black can play 7...Bxf2+ 8. Kxf2 Qd4+ 9. Be3 Qxe5 or immediate 7...Qd4 8. Be3 Qxe5 9. d4 with dxc5. 7. h3 was safer.
8.Be3 Qxe5 9.d4 Qe7 10.dxc5 Nxe4 The last few moves were forced. Now 11. Nxe4 Qxe4 12. 0-0 Be6 causes some problems to White, because Queen has to defend c2 and Black Rooks will quickly grab the open files.
11.Qd4!? Probably better than exchange on e4 because now White could castle long!?
12.O-O-O Alright! This helps White to protect sensitive c2-pawn and fight better for the d-file (King controlling d1). The drawback is that kingside pawns, that are not protected by the King, might come under attack. Still, White could drop one of them if opening of the files will help in pressuring the Black King.
13... Qe6!? A fine small push that highlights some of the weaknesses in White's camp. The main threat of Nxc3 and Qxa2 forces White to do something about it. 14. Kb1 might not be the best way since White is losing some of the control on the d-file. 14. a3 allows b6 since Queen's desirable square is taken away. Most likely, Carlsen will exchange one or two pairs of pieces to reduce Black's tactical possibilities and continue playing on the structure.
14.Kb1!? Carlsen wants to keep as many pieces on the board as possible. He might not have double Rook's exchange at the disposal, but there are other possibilities. 14...Qg6 is indirectly pressuring on the weak c2. (14.Nxe4!? Bxe4 ( but not 14... Qxe4 15.Qxe4 Bxe4 16.f3 Bd5 17.Bf4! when White is slightly better.) 15.Rxd8 Rxd8 16.Rd1 Rxd1+ 17.Kxd1 with roughly equal ending.)
14... b5 The threat is a7-a5, and after White takes, Black plays Ra8, Nxc3 and takes on a2.
15.b3 This weakening is serious concession. Nc3 might become loose and White will probably trade it soon.
20... Rd7 Both players will spend a couple of moves on solidifying the position. Alekseev wants to double the Rook and maybe transfer the Bishop to g6, while Carlsen will play Kb2 and move the (in some positions hanging) Bishop from d4.
23.h3 Is he insisting on g4? It is possible that Black will face the "how to improve beautiful position" paradox that was so nicely explained in books of GM Suba.
28... b4! Excellent reaction. Trying to drive the Queen from this diagonal and swap b-pawn for very important f3.
43... Re7 44.Qb8 Rd7 It was about time Alekseev to try exchanging the Rooks and soften c2 defence. But this might not be the best way to do it, since White has 45. Rd6 and then Qe2 is met by Rxd7 (which was not possible in the line given above).
58... Bg6 59.Ka3 Bh7 60.Rd2 Bf5 61.Qh8 Qe3 62.Kb2 Qe4 63.Rf2 Qg4 64.Qh2 Bg6 65.Qd6 Qe6 66.Qxe6+!? Kxe6 67.Ba5 The Queens have left the board, and this is now interesting endgame. White might be planning to check on e2, trade the Rooks and play Bb6.
67... Be4 Covering the possible check and taking c6 under protection.
69.Bd2 Rg7 70.Re2 f5 71.b4 g4 72.b5 cxb5 73.cxb5 g3 74.Re1 Hoping to block the promoting square. Immediate 74. b6 was also interesting, White sacrifices Bishop for pawn, but his own pawns are very close to promotion.
75... Bd3! Exactly, now Black grabs the advantage.
81.c6 f2 82.c7 fxg1=Q 83.c8=Q Qd4+ 84.Ka2 And Carlsen resigned seeing that 84... Rxc8 and 85...Qc4+ is winning for Black. An odd game, where nothing happened for about 30 moves and then White decided for a sudden pawn race. Black turned to be faster because his pawns had no obstacles on the way. Thank you everyone for following Chessdom live commentary, see you again tomorrow at 14:00 CET.