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Magnus Carlsen vs Viswanathan Anand
Corus Group A (2008), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 11, Jan-25
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen. Classical Variation (B84)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 21 OF 21 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-11-08  PinnedPiece: When I played along, guessing moves on this game (I didn't guess very many!) I really really wanted the en passant on move 27 ...pxp.

Could someone summarize why Carlsen felt this was a bad idea????

Jun-11-08  pawn to QB4: OK. Play 28.gxh5 e.p. and Black won't try to recapture your White pawn on h6. He'll leave it there, and it gets in the way of your Q + R invasion down the h file. Play Bf3 and then Bxh5 on the other hand, and the h file is now open for an attack which in practice blows away most normal humans. Play it in a league game and you can count on a win.
Jun-12-08  PinnedPiece: Thanks <pawn to QB4: OK. Play 28.gxh5 e.p. and Black won't try to recapture your White pawn on h6.>

However, after, say
28...Qd2
29 Nf6 NxN
30 QxN

it looks pretty hopeless for black to me.....what can black do after QxN?

Course there's 28..Qd8...

What a position.

Jun-12-08  Udit Narayan: This game reminds me why I love chess. The richness of this tactical slugfest is captivating. One little error by Anand would be all it would take for Carlsen to finish him off with this dangerous attack.
Jun-20-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <notyetagm: <Splittet: Magnus was winning against Anand in Corus. The computers found the winning combination, but the winning combination was too difficult for a human to see and very computer like. If Magnus had found it though, we would have been witness to a masterpiece game. Dare I say one of the best of all times?>

Definitely. The game would have been included in the next edition of Nunn et alia's "World's Greatest Chess Games".

[...] the win that Anand felt in his bones must be somewhere for White was there for the taking with the amazing 28.Ng3!!, found by the Spanish IM Torrecillas.

[...] So had Carlsen found 28.Nf5-g3!! and the winning ideas associated with it, he would already have an Immortal Game.>

People keep saying that about 28.Ng3, yet I still fail to see a clear win for White after 28...Bg7 29.Nxh5 gxh5 30.Nf6+ Kf8 31.Nxh5 (so far the line given by Marin in chessbase following Torrecillas) <31...Qd2> - as explained in previous analysis I've posted on this page.

Jul-17-08  mindkontrolle: damn good

Jan-14-09  chocobonbon: "If" is a big word.
Jan-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: ...and a famous poem.
Jan-24-10  Kinghunt: <Eyal: People keep saying that about 28.Ng3, yet I still fail to see a clear win for White after 28...Bg7 29.Nxh5 gxh5 30.Nf6+ Kf8 31.Nxh5 (so far the line given by Marin in chessbase following Torrecillas) <31...Qd2> - as explained in previous analysis I've posted on this page.>

32. Rhf3 Rbc8 33. g6 looks promising for white to me. I don't know about clearly winning, but definitely strong.

Jan-24-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Kinghunt: [28.Ng3 Bg7 29.Nxh5 gxh5 30.Nf6+ Kf8 31.Nxh5 Qd2] 32.Rhf3 Rbc8 33.g6 looks promising for white to me.>

Maybe you're right - it seems to lead to a position where White retains a pawn advantage in the endgame, in a better position than the one resulting from the 32.g6 line analyzed above - 33...Bh6 (33...Rc2? 34.Rg3 Bh6 35.g7+ Kg8 36.Nf4!) 34.Bh3 (34.gxf7 Re7 35.Nf6 Nxf6 36.Rxf6 Rc1) 34...Qg5 and apparently it boils down to 35.Bxe6 Rxe6 36.Qxg5 Bxg5 37.Rxf7+ Kg8 [White's last moves can be played in some different orders, but I don't see that it makes a difference] 38.Rxd7 Rxg6 39.Rxb7:


click for larger view

Oct-13-10  YCP: Please explain why not 26... Bxd5
27 fxd5, Qxc
Oct-13-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: <YCP: Please explain why not 26... Bxd5 27 fxd5, Qxc> 27.exd5 is not forced. White can play 27.Rh3 h6 28.gxh6 g6 29.exd5 Kh7 30.Ng7 f6 31.Be4 with the idea of 32.Qh5.
Aug-14-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Looking at this game again with the help of Houdini, it appears that White does have a forced win in the line that I questioned at the time:

<28.Ng3!! Bg7 29.Nxh5! gxh5> and now <30.Qxh5!> (rather than 30.Nf6+ as in the Marin-Torrecillas analysis published on chessbase at the time) threatening, among other things, 31.Nf6+ and 31.g6 (e.g. 31...f6 32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Nxf6! Nxf6 34.Rxf6+ Bxf6 35.Rf3 Qd8 36.g7+ Ke7 37.g8Q+; g7+ also wins after 35...Qe1+ 36.Bf1 Qxe4) <30...Qd2(!)> (again, the defence that puts up the most resistance; 30...Qd8 31.Rhf3 Re7 [a move which isn’t playable with the queen on d2] 32.Nf6+! Kf8 33.Qh7 Re8 34.Bh3!; or 31...Bxd5 32.exd5 f6 [32...Re7 33.d6] 33.gxf6 Nxf6 34.Rxf6! Bxf6 35.Qg6+ Bg7 36.Rf7) <31.Rhf3!> (now 31.Nf6+ fails to 31...Nxf6 32.gxf6 Bxh3 and there’s no 33.Qg5; or 31.g6 f6 32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Nxf6 Nxf6 34.Rxf6+ [34.Rhf3 Qh6 35.Rxf6+ Ke7] 34...Bxf6 35.Rf3 Qd1+ 36.Rf1 Qxf1+ and Black gets too much material for the queen) <31...Bxd5> (that’s the most Black can do – he can’t hold on to f7 by 31...Rf8 because of 32.Ne7#) <32.exd5 Re7> (note that on d2 the black queen prevents 33.d6 here) <33.Rxf7 Rxf7 34.Qxf7+ Kh8> (34...Kh7 35.Be4+ and mate) <35.Qxd7 Qxg5 36.d6!>


click for larger view

with winning initiative for White (besides picking up the b7 pawn, there are ideas of Qc7, Qe7, or Rg1)

An interesting sideline is 32...f6 (instead of Re7) 33.Rg3! (33.gxf6 Nxf6 34.Rxf6 Bxf6 35.Qg6+ Bg7 36.Rf7 Qh6) 33…f5 (33...Rf8 34.Rd1! Qc2 35.d6! [preparing Bd5+] 35...Qh7 [35...Nb6 36.gxf6 Rxf6 37.d7 Rd8 38.Qe8+ Rf8 39.Qe6+ Rf7 40.Rf1 and Black will be mated shortly] 36.Bd5+ Kh8 37.Qxh7+ Kxh7 38.g6+ Kh8 39.Rh3+ Bh6 40.Rxh6+ Kg7 41.Rh7+ Kxg6 42.Rxd7) 34.Rh3! (now that there’s no Qxg5) 34...Rf8 (34...Nf8 35.Rxf5 Re7 36.Rf1! [preparing Be4] Qd4 37.d6! Rd7 38.Rd1 followed by 39.Bd5+ if the black queen retreats) 35.Qh7+ Kf7 36.Rh6!; or 32...f5 33.Rh3 reaching a move earlier the same position as in the line above.

And after 32...f6 33.Rg3 Rf8 34.Rd1, if Black tries 34...Qb4 so as to meet 35.d6 Nb6 36.gxf6 Rxf6 37.d7 Rd8 38.Qe8+ with 38...Qf8, White has 37.Rg1! (threatening Bd5+) 37...Qd4 (37...Rf7 38.Qxe5 Qb5 39.Qe6 Qf5 40.Rxg7+ Kxg7 41.Be4+) 38.Bf3 Rf7 39.Rh3 and the only way to prevent an immediate mate is 39...Qxg1+.

A bit unlucky for Carlsen that the critical winning line was so insanely difficult to see...

Aug-15-12  frogbert: eyal, not sure if "unlucky" is quite the word. in these insanely complicated positions where you're attacking, possibly having to find the right of several interesting sacrifices in order to keep an advantage at all, maybe only to reach a better ending (while most players intuitively spend their time looking for something decisive against the king), it's so easy to go wrong that hardly any player will always avoid doing so.

also, i think that currently there are many elite gms that play this kind of position as well (and imperfect) as carlsen; he might not be worse than the majority of his peers at it, but the super-tactical nature of this position doesn't play into carlsen's (unique) strengths the way other, more strategical ones do.

i'm only speculating now, but experiences like this game might have led carlsen to leave his initial approach of going all out to inflict losses on anand (and others), instead aiming for game plans that exploit his special skills better while involving less risk.

so, in some sense games like this may have helped carlsen to identify his own strengths as a player. the initial failed attempts at "running over" anand the way he had run over lesser opponents in his pre-2700 days might be seen as part of carlsen's elite education - and hence useful. that some antagonists still try to use carlsen's early losses to anand as evidence of the latter's superiority over the former is mostly evidence of a flawed tradition of abusing life-time records as measure of individual strength relationships.

in short, i think this missed opportunity for carlsen was <useful> in the bigger picture and not "unlucky". :o)

Aug-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < frogbert: ....in these insanely complicated positions (while most players intuitively spend their time looking for something decisive against the king), it's so easy to go wrong that hardly any player will always avoid doing so....>

Judgment can be a tricky business indeed, and the flexibility to switch between different types of advantage is an important attribute for any player, which only comes with experience. When one has burnt up much clock time calculating all sorts of sharp lines (as here), to settle for 'only' a superior ending requires discipline which may be outside the realm of even top GMs in the heat of battle. We need only turn to the recent Wang-Carlsen battle for an object example where White failed to adjust to a change in the situation.

<....the super-tactical nature of this position doesn't play into carlsen's (unique) strengths the way other, more strategical ones do....>

On examining a number of Carlsen's games, his opponents generally come under great pressure throughout all phases. It's one thing to calculate one's way through a mess of tactics and something else again to fathom the more amorphous aspects of positional understanding.

<....some antagonists still try to use carlsen's early losses to anand as evidence of the latter's superiority over the former is mostly evidence of a flawed tradition of abusing life-time records as measure of individual strength relationships.>

This is grasping at straws.

Aug-15-12  frogbert: by the ppl focusing on those early losses, i assume.
Aug-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <frogbert> Let them have their pleasure; give us the reality of here and now.
Aug-15-12  frogbert: <the flexibility to switch between different types of advantage is an important attribute for any player, which only comes with experience>

certainly - but often the sheer time spent to realize that there's no directly deciding continuation in an attack will cripple the chances of finding/choosing the best non-decisive continuation.

anyway, to me it seems that carlsen's choice of later years - whether deliberate/conscious or not - has been to treat many situations & positions that *might* hold something concrete in a very pragmatic way. i.e. instead of searching for the position's perfect "solution", he instead moves relatively quickly, going for something he considers appealing without necessarily being absolutely best. sometimes this leads to "criticism" from people like me who would've liked him to "always" find the knock-out blow where those exist. ;o)

this slightly pragmatic approach gives (very) good results on average, but i don't reject the idea that experience might develop carlsen's intuition about where to spend extra time to an even higher level. of course he's already better than most when it comes to such judgements, but i think there's still room for improvement in this regard. as it is, i'm quite happy that carlsen seemingly doesn't feel a need to solve every position to perfection, the way it appears that for instance grischuk chooses to play his classical chess. with the time limitation of competitive chess, this trade off between precision and intuition is rather inherent.

Aug-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <frogbert> When I said "unlucky" I meant in terms of this specific game, of course – starting a sacrificial attack which was basically sound, but where the critical winning continuation turned out to be especially complex and difficult to find. I tend to agree with your general points, though with regard to Anand I would note that Carlsen's "initial approach of going all out to inflict losses" lasted well until 2010. Anand vs Carlsen, 2010 from London is another example (though somewhat less dramatic than the present game) of Carlsen playing a sharp opening, getting an advantage, but then being outplayed in murky tactical complications. He also lost against Anand from an equal position by overpressing in Bilbao that year. But his more recent games vs. Anand, from 2011, indeed seem to show the "new" approach – playing for a minimal positional advantage with White (in Carlsen vs Anand, 2011); not making any special efforts to more than equalize with Black, at least as long as Anand himself isn't inclined to take any risks (in the games from Bilbao, Tal Memorial & London).
Aug-15-12  frogbert: <with regard to Anand I would note that Carlsen's "initial approach of going all out to inflict losses" lasted well until 2010>

i guess it's hard to tame a strong urge to win. :o)

his 2009 win came in a rather positional, slow-flowing game, though. but it's hard (or nearly impossible) to outplay the top 3-4 players (including anand) by positional means only, so at least one of the players needs to show some aggression in order to create a decisive game. the problem, possibly, is that the initial aggressor might be the more likely victim.

Aug-15-12  frogbert: <a rather positional, slow-flowing game>

well, if one can say that about a game including 7. g4 Nxg4 8. Rg1 Qf6 9. Rxg4 Qxf3 ... ;o)

i guess the initial aggression was present, and that anand's attempt of taming it by going to a worse endgame after 11. Qf5?! was the wrong solution.

Aug-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Yeah, I agree about the game from 2009. Btw, re opening choices - Carlsen's second loss to Anand from 2008, in Linares (Carlsen vs Anand, 2008), was the last time he played in a classical game the Anti-Moscow, a line which indeed seems the very opposite of his current style (very heavily theorized, with a lot of forcing lines and potential for murky tactics).
Dec-30-12  taobert: Playing into Anand's defensive strengths in a variation which practically guarantees you'll lose if you don't mate is a tad adventurous.

Other than that, engine is recommending 19. g5! and not trading on e5 with the bishop. Play can continue 19. ... Nfd7, 20. Nd4 Bc4 21. Be2 Bxe2 22. Qxe2 when white holds a small edge.

Mar-31-13  John Abraham: Wonderful game, lots of tactics all over the board
Feb-05-14  Vdh: The move 28. Rf3 by Carlsen was a mistake. 28. Nf6! Nxf6 (forced due to mate on h file) 29. gxf6 Bxf5? 30. Rxf5 with mate threat on h file followed by Rg5 and Qg3 will ensure sure win for white.
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