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Arkadij Naiditsch vs Magnus Carlsen
GRENKE Chess Classic (2018), Baden-Baden GER, rd 7, Apr-07
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Zagreb (Fianchetto) Variation (B91)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Never count this Norgewian out of anything.

He's stubborn, determined, and the W.C.C.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Whoa, weird first move from the champ!
Apr-07-18  csmath: This is one strange Najdorf. Carlsen opening is standard but Naiditch is playing something rather strange.

That is OK if you are able to confuse your opponent but it seems to me Naiditsch confused himself. White position after 21 moves looks ridiculous and it is obvious that black is harmonious and ready to break into center regardless how many pieces white pointed into d5. So many weak white squares and no wonder Naiditsch did not notice the weakness on e2 that after 27. Nf2? turned the game easy to play for black. After 37 moves it is extremely hard to play white position and very easy to make mistakes and of course Naiditsch did make them. The position is horrible anyway.

Magnus is not the best Najdorf player, I think Kasparov would have broken d5 earlier but Magnus manouvre with knight to f3 is classical Magnus style, he does this stuff often in blitzes.

Apr-07-18  csmath: I think Magnus played Najdorf because he knew that Naiditsch likes to play sharp and it is hard to play sharp against Magnus. Nakamura knows that, Aronian knows that, Shak knows that, and now Naiditsch learned that too. Magnus can outcalculate most of them most of the time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gilmoy: There's something quite terrifying about Carlsen playing a patient, methodical Najdorf, offering no targets and aiming at inscrutable squares. Icebergs calve and rift valleys widen while he collects <micro>pawns.

Naiditsch seems to have felt the compulsion to <do something>. Two obvious decision points are <23.Nd5> and <29.c4> -- in retrospect, both look too ambitious, opening the game not in White's favor.

Carlsen still loves his pins:
Carlsen vs Onischuk, 2007 (16 yrs old), <39.Nc6> 1-0:

click for larger view

(27 yrs old), <38..Rc3 39.Rd1[]>:

click for larger view

Perhaps 33.Nd<1> instead of <33.Nd3>? I guess the <35.Bc3 36.Ra1> idea hoped to pick off a6, but White is one tempo short to step out of the horizontal pin: 38.Ne1 Qb2 (sees-f2!) and the pin-threat on 1 prevents the Rook from leaving. Anyways, it must have gone awry long before this.

Apr-07-18  JustAnotherMaster: MC seems to have developed a fondness for the Najdorf position/structure since losing with white to Grishchuk, he hated his position with white in that game all through the post-Morten if I recall correctly. Beautiful squeeze, MC always turns it on the final 3 rounds.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Gilmoy:

Icebergs calve and rift valleys widen while he collects <micro>pawns.>

I was going to post the same thing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Naiditsch's opening was not "weird" it is a fairly well known sub line and the idea is to control d5 I suppose. At move 17 at least White is still quite good. But more normal is 11. ... a5

Here is an exciting game where White won

I Madl vs M Sergeyeva, 2008

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: And, ah, yes it does seem that Carlsen is the W.C. I just double checked.
Apr-07-18  Nf8: Carlsen discusses the game with Leko & Gustafsson:

An interesting example of how self-critical Carlsen is - in contrast to all the hymns of praise here, he actually seems rather disgusted with the way he played. He realized during the game that he should have played exf4 when he had the chance on move 16 or 17, and later that he could have played the thematic d5 break on move 22 and that 25...e4 was too rash, because with 27.Nc3! White could have equalized (27.Nf2?, on the other hand, seems like the losing mistake by Naiditsch). After that point, he says he "lost interest in the game"... dismissing what followed as tricking his opponent in time trouble. Btw, all of these assessments are backed by the evaluations of The Norwegian Stockfish on Steroids at

Apr-07-18  WorstPlayerEver: If Carlsen is so critical about himself, then why did he baffle Maurice when things went 'not so smooth'?

Obviously things went not so smooth for Carlsen since 2014. Still no reason to shoot the messenger.

That said, I think their chess has become more and more speculative.

In other words: I think Dreev still has a point; Carlsen plays anti-chess lol and he knows it!

Big deal..

Apr-07-18  Whitehat1963: Looks like Carlsen might have missed an opportunity early according to Stockfish:

-0.93 (17 ply) 17...exf4 18.gxf4 Bf8 19.Rf1 Bd7 20.Qd4 Bc6 21.Rd1 Nbd7 22.Bf3 Nc5 23.Ned5 Bxd5 24.exd5 Qd7 25.Qf2 Qh3 26.Be3 Qf5 27.Rd4

Apr-07-18  Marmot PFL: If Carlsen didn't always play the best move at least he played the 2nd best, no bad moves. usually that's enough.
Apr-07-18  cormier: 1) -0.10 (32 ply) 17.f5 Bd7 18.Qd3 Qc7 19.Bf3 d5 20.Nexd5 Nbxd5 21.exd5 e4 22.Nxe4 Qxc2 23.Qxc2 Rxc2 24.b4 Nxe4 25.Bxe4 Rc4 26.Bb2 Bf6 27.Bxf6 Rexe4 28.Rxe4 Rxe4 29.Bc3 Bxf5 30.Rf1 Bh3 31.Re1 Rxe1+ 32.Bxe1 f6 33.Bf2 Kf7 34.Bc5 Bf5 35.d6

6.0 minute analysis by Stockfish 9

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Nf8> An interesting example of how self-critical Carlsen is - in contrast to all the hymns of praise here, he actually seems rather disgusted with the way he played.>

That seems to be the norm with Carlsen at post-game conferences. He's usually very critical of his play and seldom, if ever, has any words of praise for himself.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Whitehad1963> Looks like Carlsen might have missed an opportunity early according to Stockfish:>

Of all the top engines, Stockfish is the one that needs to search the deepest before one can have any confidence in its evaluations. At a search depth = 17 you might as well put several evaluations in a hat and pick one at random. Stockfish needs to reach search depths in the high 30-ply or low 40-ply before they're likely to be anywhere near correct. Fortunately, because Stockfish gets to a given depth faster than any other engine (as far as I know), getting to search depths in the high 30s or low 40s does not usually take an unreasonably long time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<WorstPlayerEver> If Carlsen is so critical about himself, then why did he baffle Maurice when things went 'not so smooth'?>

I think that we all need to cut the players some slack whenever they are (forced to) attend the post-game conference after having an advantage and, due to a miscalculation, turn a near-winning position into a draw or even a loss. It's natural for a player to be upset at himself after that happens, particularly one like Carlsen who tends to be super-critical of his play. Players are only human.

If I remember that incident (I don't remember the tournament), something like that had happened to Carlsen and you could see it in his fact that he was not pleased with himself. Maurice Ashley asked him what I thought was a fairly normal and innocuous question and Carlsen said something along the lines of "What do you expect me to do?" in an irritated tone of voice. It is to Ashley's credit that he simply backed down and defused the situation. However, it apparently wasn't enough and Carlsen, if I remember correctly, stormed out of the room. And he's been known to not go to a post-game conference after a loss, and be fined as a result.

While I understand their motivation, I think that FIDE needs to be a little bit more sensitive about forcing players to attend post-game conferences. After all, they've just gone through a highly stressful and intense 4 hours or more. I made a suggestion earlier that perhaps they should hold back a certain percentage of the prize fund and explicitly pay the players if they attend and participate in the post-game conference. That way, if they do not feel like doing so, they can simply forego it, and it goes into a special fund. No stigma like fining a player for not attending the post-game conference attached to their non-participation although, of course, financially it amounts to the same thing. And at the end of the tournament, if there is money in the special fund, FIDE can fund a post-tournament party for the players.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < WorstPlayerEver:

Obviously things went not so smooth for Carlsen since 2014. >

Complete nonsense! If things were not so smooth, why did he win against Anand in 2014? Why is he still the highest rated in blitz and classical and rapid? Why did he win against Karjakin?

I wish my career were "not so smooth" like Carlsens' career!!!

Apr-07-18  csmath: I think Magnus was disgusted that he did not take f4 pawn and allowed 18. f5.

This is definitely one of those things in Najdorf that you do not allow unless you have a clear compensation in center. But here I think he has a compensation in center because white pieces are really obstructing each other.

Kasparov would definitely played this better as black in my view. d5 break that Magnus decided not to play is something every good Najdorf player plays immediately when there is a chance.

Again, the way Magnus talks about the whole game you can see that he thinks positionally all the way even though he can outcalculate anybody. I think this is one of the greatest players ever to play the game of chess even though this is not his great game.

Apr-08-18  Marmot PFL: Not Carlsen's best game but no real mistakes, unlike in his game with Meier where he made some serious errors trying to complicate the game against a weaker player.
Apr-09-18  Mirovsk: From move 1. to 23... there's only one exchange of pawns - on moves 3... and 4. - this means 38 moves without a single exchange - fascinating would say Spock
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