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Magnus Carlsen vs Predrag Nikolic
"Big Mag and French Fries" (game of the day Jul-17-2013)
Corus Group B (2005), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 11, Jan-28
French Defense: Tarrasch Variation. Open System Advance Line (C08)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: In my humble opinion, here's fair criteria to claim full credit:

1) You had to foresee the moves to the end of the actual game (22.Rxe6). From what I've been reading, many believe that that amounts to solving the puzzle, but that's incorrect. I too saw that in a couple of minutes, but you still have to make sure you win. Those who say "Rxe6 winning a piece" are wrong. White is just recovering the piece he sacrificed, and if you stopped the analysis there you cannot claim full credit. That's just lazy. True, Black has a rook locked in h8 and White has a big positional advantage, but would you beat GM Nikolic just with positional advantage? You had to continue and figure out how to win at once against 22...Qf7.

2) So, that's number 2: Figure out what to do after 22...Qf7. One possibility was 23.Rxa8+ Qxe8 24. Rxa5 Bxa5 25.Qxd5+ Qf7 and there 26. Bc4 (as the first post noted), or what I saw, which was 26.Qc5, which I believe wins at once (any refuter out there?) And, of course, as someone noted earlier, there is 23.Bxf5, which also wins quickly. Anything short of seeing all the way to one of the crushing lines is not full credit.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: What a beautiful game! At the end it looks more like a 19th-century Evans than a 21st-century French. I really like Ingolf's 22....Qf7 23. Rxe8+ Qxe8 24. Rxa5 Bxa5 (better as Ingolf says is 24...Qe1+ but it still loses) 25. Qxd5+ Qf7 26. Bc4!!, although I guess 23. Bf5 is objectively stronger. Either is certainly strong enough.
Aug-18-07  iccsumant: Oh god! This is too easy! I think I could have easily solved this one even in the real game; though I can't play exactly like Carlsen:-).
Nov-29-11  Nemesistic: This Game is a real early Carlsen mini Classic..
Wouldn't have guessed Black was a top GM though!
Nov-29-11  checkmateyourmove: <nemesistic> You are right on the money, this is like a mini carlsen classic , a preview of his bright future. What a beauty of a game!
Jun-05-12  Jambow: Nice play continually expoiting every weekness possible.

After seeing this game I'm convinced this kid might have a future in chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Is the score definitely correct here?
What's the story with 16.b4? Surely it's meant to be c4?


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Garech> On following the score given, Carlsen's play seems logical after the cited continuation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Sure thing, it's just that there are a handful of stronger moves to choose from, seems strange that Carlsen would play a weak move with such a strong position.


Jul-17-13  Moszkowski012273: Agreed Garech,,, 16.b4 is most assuredly a blunder, leading to instant equality after black castles.
Jul-17-13  Abdel Irada: Ironically, "magnus" means "big."

Jul-17-13  Tim Delaney: <fusilli: So, that's number 2: Figure out what to do after 22...Qf7.> While there are certainly continuations that are prettier and quicker, White need do nothing brilliant to win after 22...Qf7. All he has to do is to avoid obvious blunders. For example: 23. Rxe8 Qxe8 24. Qxd5 Qf7 25. Be4 is quite good enough as white will win the knight on a5. Black is paralyzed on both wings and must lose a piece. Even 25...Bxf2 avails him nothing: 26. Kf1 After any discovered check, White simply plays Ke2.

My point is that White has his choice of at least four forced wins after 22 Rxe6, not merely a positional advantage. Any competent 1800 player should be able to beat any GM from this position.

Jul-17-13  Doniez: In latin, Magnus means large, big or when after a name (Carolus Magnus= Charlemagne) means "the Great". And this can be used for Carlsen. Even though,IMO, next World match will reveal a BIGGER Vishi...
Jul-17-13  JoergWalter: <Doniez: In latin, Magnus means large, big or when after a name (Carolus Magnus= Charlemagne) means "the Great". And this can be used for Carlsen. Even though,IMO, next World match will reveal a BIGGER Vishi.>

Right, <Doniez> a great burger is not necessarily a "big mac". And may your prediction about WC Anand be right...

Jul-17-13  Tim Delaney: <moszkowski012273: Agreed Garech,,, 16.b4 is most assuredly a blunder, leading to instant equality after black castles.>

I'm not so sure of this. 17. b5 Ne7 18.Re1 and all of White's pieces are developed and ready to attack. The immediate threat is Bb2 which would be most uncomfortable. While I don't see an immediate win for White, I think his position is more than worth the pawn he has invested.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A thorough thrashing!
Jul-17-13  Doniez: I am so impressed of the position after move 18.b5. In this moment, Carlsen is covering 3 diagonals, heading to the Black King.
Jul-17-13  DcGentle: Some people have claimed that <16. b4> was a blunder. Oh really? Here there is a line showing the impact, when Black plays <16... 0-0>:

click for larger view

Black to move plays <16... 0-0>.

[Event "Corus , Variant not played."]
[Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"]
[Date "2005.01.28"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Magnus Carlsen"]
[Black "Predrag Nikolic"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C08"]
[WhiteElo "2553"]
[BlackElo "2676"]
[Annotator "DcGentle"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r3k2r/ppq2ppp/1bn1b3/3p4/RP6/B2B1N2/2P2PPP/Q4RK1 b kq - 0 16"]

16... O-O 17. Re1 {better than an immediate b5 in order to avoid an immediate ... d4.} Ne7 18. b5 {18... d4 is bad, because White will rule the center at the end of the ensuing trade.} Ng6 19. Bb2 d4 {White can now deal with this move.} 20. Bxd4 Bxd4 21. Nxd4 Nf4 22. Be4 {threatening 23. Nxe6 followed by 24. Rxa7, winning a pawn.} Qb6 23. Nf3 Qxb5 24. Bxh7+ {This is no real sacrifice.} Kxh7 25. Rxf4 Kg8 26. Nd4 Qb6 27. Rh4 Bd7 28. Re5 Rad8 29. Reh5 f6 30. h3 Rfe8 31. Qa3 {The queen heads to g3.} Kf7 32. Qg3 {threatening 33. Rh7.} Rg8 33. Rd5 {threatening 34. Rd6.} Bc6 34. Rxd8 Qxd8 35. Nxc6 bxc6 36. Qb3+ {Black will now be punished for his weak kingside.} Kg6 37. Rg4+ Kh6 38. Qe3+ g5 39. Rd4 Qb8 40. h4 Qe5 41. Re4 Qd5 42. hxg5+ Kg6 43. Rd4 Qe5 44. Qd3+ Qf5 45. Qc4 Re8 46. Rf4 Qd5 47. Rxf6+ Kg7 48. Qg4 Rf8 49. c4 Qd2 50. Rxf8 Kxf8 51. Qf5+ {and White's passed pawns will win the day.} 1-0


Jul-17-13  Tim Delaney: <DcGentle>

I am puzzled by your analysis. After 16. b4 O-O 17. b5 Black cannot play an immediate d4 because bxc6 is threatened, not to mention Bxf8.

Later on, you give 18...Ng6 which would allow Bxf8 winning the exchange. I think one of us has a piece misplaced in the analysis. Am I missing something?

Jul-17-13  DcGentle: <Tim Delaney>: Well, Black should only play ... d4 after the white bishop is on b2. It could be that the same position is reached by transposition, if White plays <17. b5>.

Anyways. Winning the exchange is possible, yes, but White's bishop is more powerful on b2. After the trade on d4 Black's chances are diminished, his rooks are not developed, while White can get his rooks on the h-file.

Engines estimate the position for Black better than it really is after <16... 0-0>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheTamale: Nice to see the French get roasted quickly. I hate it. I should probably study this game a bit; it looks instructive.
Jul-17-13  DcGentle: <TheTamale>: After all there also is the advanced variation of the French, which is even more positional than this one.

The Opening Explorer shows, what I mean.

A sample line of mine you can find here: DcGentle chessforum


Premium Chessgames Member
  sycophante: Appart from the beautiful ending combination, I really enjoy the way Carlsen played the opening. Very smooth and natural, culminating with Ba3. In fact, after 14 moves, White has four developped pieces (and ready for action) and his King castled, while Black has only three pieces out with his King stuck on its original square.
Premium Chessgames Member
  extremepleasure2: 19.Qd1 was a weak move IMO. Better was of course 19.Nd4. Carlsen was lucky that Nikolic played 19.. Rae8. Had he played 19...Rhe8 this combination starting with Ng5 wouldn't have been possible.
May-19-16  RKnight: <extremepleasure2: 19.Qd1 was a weak move IMO. Better was of course 19.Nd4. Carlsen was lucky that Nikolic played 19.. Rae8. Had he played 19...Rhe8 this combination starting with Ng5 wouldn't have been possible.> Not so. 19...Rhe8, 20. Ng5! fxg5, and white forces mate in 5: 20. Qh5+ Kf6 (if Kh8 21. Qxh7#), 21. Qf3+ Qf4, 22. Rxf4 etc.
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