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Magnus Carlsen vs Hikaru Nakamura
Tata Steel (2011)  ·  Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Opocensky Variation (B92)  ·  1-0
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Given 37 times; par: 45 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-25-11  BobCrisp: Why is this <Uncommon Opening>?
Jan-25-11  The Chess Express: Heh, good question :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Here at is the video of Carlsen's post game analysis.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Carlsen says he thinks the game is pretty much "strategically decided" after 20. g6!
Jan-25-11  BobCrisp: Thank you, oh great white chief!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Nakamura, in answer to the question where did it all go wrong:

<I forgot to play 8…Be6 and decided I was going to be a genius and castle instead… I simply forgot about this g4 line because I haven’t played the Najdorf seriously in 5 or 6 years. I simply forgot about g4, and once he played it I pretty much knew it was going to be a long long day. I tried to come up with something, but it was just a very bad position from the get go.> (

Jan-26-11  anandrulez: What does Magnus mean when he says that
19 ..Qc5 is one prepatory move extra ? Why does that seemingly logical move become a blunder ? I oo didnt like the move as it doesnt seem to attain anything . What was Naka trying to do there and what is Carlsen suggesting instaed ? Magnus does play g4 ideas often in Sicilian games ...
Jan-26-11  Jay60: Where did Nakamura go wrong?

I would say 25...Qa5 was especially bad. He wanted to keep up an attack on Carlsen's King, but really? With insufficient Nakamura forces Carlsen easily parried threats to his king. I think Nakamura needed at this point to bring his forces to defend his King rather than half-baked attacks on Carlsen's king.

Jan-27-11  Hesam7: <Eyal: Nakamura, in answer to the question where did it all go wrong:

<I forgot to play 8…Be6 and decided I was going to be a genius and castle instead… I simply forgot about this g4 line because I haven’t played the Najdorf seriously in 5 or 6 years. I simply forgot about g4, and once he played it I pretty much knew it was going to be a long long day. I tried to come up with something, but it was just a very bad position from the get go.>>

Yes Nakamura playing the Najdorf was surprising. If I recall correctly after 6. Be2 he even spent some time on his 6th move (deciding between 6. ... e6 and 6. ... e5 maybe?). My impression is that at the highest level you have to decide on these things before the game starts.

Jan-28-11  Ulhumbrus: <Hesam7: <And there’s the first blow at point-blank range! Hand-to-hand fighting is beginning. The f7-pawn, it seems, is overloaded with responsibilities. It needs to keep an eye on the bishop – which is in trouble from the white knight – and to protect the g6-point. It seems the advance of the white pawn was an unpleasant revelation for Hikaru. He’s having a long think. The clocks show: 0:45 – 0:45.> -- GM Shipov during his live commentary <I felt somehow that after 19. ... Qc5 20. g6 in a sense the game is strategically decided.> -- GM Carlsen commenting on his win after the game.

So Shipov from the comfort of his own home and with various engines at his disposal still got "out-evaluated" by Carlsen.>

Shipov's comments suggest in fact that it was Nakamura who got "out evaluated" and not Shipov.

Shipov is one of the best commentators there is. I doubt whether I have seen any better, although Mihail Marin may compare. If either of those two had managed to write and publish chess books a few decades ago before the age of the internet, the books would have been best sellers.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: Game Collection: Magnus Carlsen Best Games
Jan-31-11  Hesam7: <Ulhumbrus: Shipov's comments suggest in fact that it was Nakamura who got "out evaluated" and not Shipov.>

Well can't be both? Plus Nakamura had no illusions about his position. After the game he remarked that after 9. g4 he realized it would be a long day.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sevenseaman: This fine game between two rising youngsters of the game shows how accurately can Carlsen play under pressure.

Perhaps Naka castled a bit too early, giving Carlsen a choice to castle long and attack on the other wing. An immediate g4 ensues.

May-28-11  onlinechesslessons: Magnus is a monster, but I think Nakamura is developing rapidly as a top 5 world class player. I covered this game at

Feedback is appreciated!!

Jun-22-11  DrMAL: In the post game video, Magnus describes the position after 15.O-O-O as "standard" there is certainly nothing unusual after 16.Qc7 and chances are basically equal. He also states 17...Rfe8 as being logical for later Bf8 and Bg7 also true.

18.Ka1 was "really pleasant" as Magnus describes, not some super-genius game winner but instead good prophylaxis at a nice time, as tempos are not yet critical so it is practicable.

However, Carlsen describes 19...Qc5 as "probably a terrible move" and suggests 19...g6 instead which would have been a decisive mistake! Perhaps black could have done slightly better with 19...Nec4 or 19...Nbc4 but 19...Qc5 was actually quite good!

After 20.g6 h6 may have been slightly better but after 20...Nec4 black was still OK, the game is not at all "strategically decided" as Carlsen states.

For point of argument, I stuck this on Rybka 4.1 and came back after awhile, here is the evaluation (lines truncated):

[+0.83] d=18 20...h6 21.Qe1 Nec4 22.Bc1 (0:20:40)
[+1.02] d=18 20...Nec4 21.Bxc4 Nxc4 22.gxh7+ (0:23:16)

From the second part video Magnus does not consider 20...h6. Then he states after 23...h6 that he does not have a clear win.

Interestingly, if one looks at the two truncated lines above, it hints to the truth in this statement. 22.Qd3 and 24.Qg3 were both inaccurate, especially the latter. 24.Nxe6 was white's best move and nearly decisive, whereas 24.Qf1 was still better. Again, for point of argument here is Rybka's evaluation (lines truncated):

[+1.68] d=20 24.Nxe6 Rxe6 25.Qh3 Rxg6 (0:31:59)

[+1.32] d=20 24.Qf1 Rc7 25.Rd3 Rd7 (0:39:10)

Carlsen's post game video misses this critical aspect of the game. Similarly, he mentions 24...Qb6 as "actually kind of good" without considering 24...Na3 the better move. Actually, 24...Qb6 was an inaccuracy as was 25...Qa5 (instead of 25...Qd8 or 25...Nd5). At this point white's advantage is becoming decisive.

But 26.Nxe6 was not played in favor of 26.Rdf1 another tactical inaccuracy. And then 26...Qe5 was missed in favor of inaccuracy 26...Ne5. After 28.exd5 white's advantage is probably decisive but black blunders with 28...Qxe5 (instead of 28...Rc4 or 28...Qa4) and is completely lost.

It is unfair to put players on the spot immediately after the game before they get a chance to re-compose themselves and carefully analyze what happened. Moreover, popular emphasis on their quick analyses and remarks from commentators often leads to widespread misunderstanding.

It is interesting to see how such top players think but much deeper analysis is needed to reliably understand high level games, especially ones as complicated as this. The game was full of small errors on both sides as may be expected from its complexity. They worked out in Carlsen's favor this time (even if he did not know just how shortly after the game) and both played brilliantly.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: If white can somehow get in 32.Rh8+, it's game over for black. Unfortunately, the knight has different thoughts.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < frogbert:'s more than mildly annoying to listen to 200 patzers with engines taking turns calling carlsen <and> nakamura "weak" and accusing them for horrible "blunders" and missing "simple wins" and "obvious moves" non-stop....

i'm not sure there's such a big difference between a football audience and a chess audience anymore: both groups seem to think....they actually understand what's going on better than the players themselves....>

The players who sit in the calm of their study behind their monitor and engage in this practice generally haven't got a clue how to play themselves, and certainly don't understand anything of the nature of playing at top level. Even at CG, there are those who seem to revel in every oversight, real or imagined.

<....personally i'm amazed about what regular ims and gms see during a game of chess...>

That's for sure.

Dec-31-12  taobert: Most of the posts I've been reading are highly informative and constructive. I think Frogbert gets carried away sometimes, but his posts help generate conversation. Nobody is bashing Nakamura for his horrible opening play. (haha) Actually I don't even see where Naka made serious mistakes except maybe missing an early a5 in opening and Qxd5 was horrible- that was basically losing move. On the flip side Carlsen's play wasn't impressive either. Actually Nakamura's defensive play sucked too, I mean he should have after g6 played h6 and not captured the pawn, if he wants let him capture on f7 so he recaps with bishop helps defend king. This game was bad up into end when Carlsen finally woke up. It just seems Naka isn't hungry enough or up to the task of challenging world's #1 and he won't be taken seriously until he is.
Dec-31-12  frogbert: which frog-obsessed kibitzer made the post you responded too, taobert? pretty weird and some sign of personal issues if a kibitzer starts to bash me now for comments i made to this game ages ago, don't you think? :o)
Jan-01-13  ISELCF: <frogbert: which frog-obsessed kibitzer made the post you responded too, taobert? pretty weird and some sign of personal issues if a kibitzer starts to bash me now for comments i made to this game ages ago, don't you think? :o)>

this post of <frogbert> does not belong on this page.

guys , please support the great initiative <achieve> has taken and respond to this post of <frogbert> on


if you must.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Wow, no comments on this game in 18 months!

It was a great display from Carlsen, a victory of the fundamentals in chess.

His two-part analysis is available on Youtube - there's some very insightful stuff there.

This game should definitely get GOTD sometime too; it's well worthy.



Oct-26-14  tranquilsimplicity: <Garech> Like yourself I am surprised that this gem of a game has not attracted much comment. Apart from comments by <Perfidious> that I agree with.#
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Could not recall what I had to say on this game, so had to look.

It is curious, but only yesterday while taking a drive, I recollected something from the distant past.

In the eighties, I watched a post-mortem by Walter Browne at some open or other and was astonished at the variations he had analysed during play and thought to myself, 'How the @&%# did he see all <that>?'

Oct-26-14  tranquilsimplicity: That's why I agreed with you when you commented that it is unwise for Kibitzers to analyse and criticise the games of GMs, IMs and FMs; firstly because they cannot appreciate what these Masters' ideas are, secondly the Kibitzers are relying on software therefore are not remotely original, and finally many Kibitzers will be club players thus not really justified in criticising superior players. However, in my view Kibitzers can comment on games and give opinion; positive or negative. What ruins some posts is the presumption that is behind the opinion given; like we say "It is not what you say but how you say it..." I won't finish the expression and insult your intelligence my friend (ha..ha..ha..ha).#
Nov-14-14  jatr: This game has been featured in the Danish weekly Donald Duck magazine. The magazine was released on the 13th of November 2014 and Magnus Carlsen is co-author of the story.
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