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Magnus Carlsen vs Jan Smeets
Corus Group A (2010), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 2, Jan-17
Semi-Slav Defense: Botvinnik System (D44)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-17-10  Eyal: <tamar: <Ulhumbrus> Another question is, are those first 29 moves perfect if the player does not realize their implications?

This is probably an inevitable result of getting into deep computer analysis, and having to spend too much time checking at the board.>

Another way of putting it would be - not understanding the position well enough once out of the "perfect" computer prep, and so having to spend an inordinate amount of time on figuring it out; possibly what happened to Smeets in this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Eyal> after 38 Rf4 if 38...Kb6, would Black have drawn?
Jan-17-10  Interbond: Eyal: Yes I think you could be right. That's not the first or the last time we will see that in chess history. And I think it's even more common among lower rated players.
Jan-17-10  TheSlid: <DaveyL: <cade: Carlsen needs to free his Bishop> I know the Netherlands is a very liberal place, but there's no need for that kind of thing... >

Well, at least it amused me, <DaveyL>!

Jan-17-10  AuN1: disheartening loss for smeets. i was pulling for him the whole way, but unfortunately he was jumping at shadows instead of fighting to get some counter-play. those queenside pawns weren't going to push themselves, and if he had started to push them sooner it would have certainly slowed down carlsen's attack. as it were, he simply went belly up when the pressure became too much for him to bear.
Jan-17-10  hedgeh0g: <TheSlid> It amused me, too, although I think more could have been made of the remainder of <cade>'s comment: <it's acting as if it is just a pawn now.>

Sometimes pawns just need a little freedom to move before they become fully-fledged bishops. I recommend wearing boxer shorts.

Jan-17-10  lost in space: After 29. Qe2: close to 0,00

click for larger view

Only 3 move later after 32. Qg4 +1,74

click for larger view

Jan-17-10  Alphastar: Frankly, Smeets' game strategy disgusts me. He plays 24 moves of theory and then proceeds to get into deep time trouble only 7 moves later??
Jan-17-10  Ulhumbrus: In the position after 29 Qe2 Black's bishop is placed better than White's bishop. If other things are equal, Black has the advantage and can play to win. However are other things in fact equal? Whereas White's h6 pawn ties Black's Rook up, Black has no such pawn himself. Moreover Black's King is more exposed to attack than White's King is exposed to attack. If other things are not equal, Smeets may have evaluated wrongly the position as better for Black and gone too far trying to win. 30...Qd5 can win for Black if White misplays it. Perhaps Smeets saw too late that White could overpower the d4 pawn by the triplet of moves Be3, Rd1 and Qg4.
Jan-17-10  Jim Bartle: In "Fire on Board" Shirov comments on 19. Qd4 in Shirov vs Oll, 1992:

"I had analysed 19. Qg4 a lot over the years, but when this game was played I wasn't convinced that it led to an advantage for White (today theory claims that white is better in that line). On the other hand 19 Qd4 had just been introduced into practice in the correspondence game Krausser-Gunther shortly before the present encounter."

Oll played 19...Rxd5 and lost quickly after 20. Qxa7 Nc6 21. Nb6+.

Jan-18-10  Eyal: <tamar: after 38 Rf4 if 38...Kb6, would Black have drawn?>


click for larger view

Now after 39.Rd4 Kc5 it's still objectively won for White with 40.Rd1 (as Carlsen should have played on move 38), but it would be a threefold repetition... otherwise 39.Qxf7 Qe1+ 40.Kg2 Rxh6 41.Rh4 Rxh4 42.gxh4 Qe4+ 43.f3 Qe2+ 44.Kg3 Qe5+ 45.Kh3 Qf5+ etc.; or 39.Rf5 Qe1+ 40.Kg2 Qe4+ 41.Rf3 (else perpetual check) c3! 42.Qe7 Qxe7 43.fxe7 c2 44.Rc3 b4 45.Rc4 Kb5 46.Rc7 Kb6 etc.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Nice game. I thought 20.N-b6 was terrific, really oppened up smeet's queenside. funny, in the ending, blacks pawns looked better. But, he can't use his rook.
Jan-18-10  Hesam7: <17...Nb8 is not played nowadays, because after 18 axb4 cxb4 White can sacrifice a queen in a more effective way than in the game: 19 Qd4! Nc6 20 dxc6 Rxd4 21 cxb7+ and according to my old, though not necessarily correct analysis, his attack should be decisive.> Alexei Shirov in "Fire on Board II"

The line Shirov mentions looks very good for White. I wonder why Carlsen did not play it. Here is the position after the queen sac:

click for larger view

Jan-18-10  Eyal: I don't know what's the current opinion on 20.dxc6, but Smeets was probably prepared for that - he's known to be something of an expert in the Botvinnik line and I've read that he blitzed the opening moves. Carlsen, on the other hand, mentioned in his blog ( that he was surprised by 17...Nb8 (probably expecting exd5, as in his recent game from M-Tel Carlsen vs Shirov, 2009), and spent half an hour thinking after that. So perhaps he came up with the ingenious Nb6+ idea by himself, even though it was already played, in fact, a few months ago in Hebden vs S Arun Prasad, 2009 (the first new move here was Smeets' 23...Bc5 instead of Kb7).
Jan-18-10  Eyal: ...I've just listened to some bits of the ICC live broadcast from yesterday that I missed, and Macauley Peterson reported there something that illustrates rather amusingly how better prepared than Carlsen Smeets was (or how unsure Carlsen was about the nature of the position that arose out of the opening) - during the post-mortem, Carlsen kept asking Smeets time and again "What do you think I should do here?" until Smeets told him at one point "Well, that's *your* problem".

Btw, it's interesting to note that although the computers start criticizing Smeets' play only from move 30, Svidler - who was commenting live - already felt quite certain that Black's game was starting to go downhill a move earlier, when Smeets played 29...b3; he thought the right idea was 29...b5, to discourage Be3 (because then Black can reply with Qxf6, as the queen isn't tied anymore to the defense of c4).

Jan-19-10  Hesam7: <Eyal> that is very interesting because Kasparov was a known expert on the White side of this line (17. ... Nb8) and in "Revolution in 70s" he mentions Shirov's suggested move (19. Qd4).

Another point would be why Smeets avoided the current main line: 17. ... exd5 18. axb4 cxb4 19. Be3 Nc5 20. Qg4+ Rd7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Kasparov analysed this (Botvinnik's) line massively before he was World Champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <tamar: What does it profit a man to play 29 perfect moves and 4 clunkers in time pressure?>

1. Instead of 30...Qd5?! , Black should play 30...Bxe3 =.

2. Instead of 31...Kc6? , Black should play 31...Qc5 =.

3. Instead of 32...b5? , Black should play 32...Kb5 .

4. After 38. Rf4?, instead of 38...Qxb2?? Black should play 38...Kb6 .

Feb-03-10  Eyal: <3. Instead of 32...b5? , Black should play 32...Kb5>

An important tactical point here is that after 32...Kb5, 33.Bxd4?? loses to 33...Rxh6! (with a mate threat on h1) 34.f3 Rxf6 35.Kg2 Rd6, whereas in the game after 33...Rxh6, with the king on c6 and the b5 square occupied by the pawn, Black would be mated immediately by 34.Qc8+. These lines illustrate one important reason why it's so tricky to play this Botvinnik line with Black - one of Black's major sources of play is the pawn majority on the Q-side, so there's always the temptation to march it forward, but on the other hand Black's king is also on the Q-side, so its position can get vulnerable in certain ways with every pawn push; this requires delicate move-by-move judgment. And as the first variation shows, there's also the half-open h-file as another potential source of counterplay for Black by tactics against the white king, of which White has to be constantly alert...

Apr-10-10  funkymihir: could somebody pls tell me wy did black resign???? plsss
Apr-10-10  Calelsdad22: <funkymihir: could somebody pls tell me wy did black resign???? plsss>

Next moves will either result to mate or loss of the queen.

41 ... Kc2 42 Qxc4+ (best move for black would lose his queen)

41 ... Kd2 42 Qd5+ Kc1 (... Ke1 43 Re3 Qe2 )43 Qxc4

At his best move black will exchange his queen with a rook to avoid mate.

Apr-10-10  Calelsdad22: I forgot:

41 ... Kd4 42 Rf4+ will force black to abandon his c pawn and open a lot of mating threat for white

Aug-14-10  Ulhumbrus: An alternative to 13...Qb6 is 13..Qa5 keeping the square b6 clear for the N on d7.
Jun-03-11  Helloween: <Hesam7, Eyal>According to Ponomariov's analysis and some recent developments in correspondence games, Black is now fine in the Queen sac which which Shirov believes to be decisive in his "Fire on Board II". For years it was assumed that Black loses in this line, based on Kamsky vs Kramnik, 1994.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Bb7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 Qb6 14.Bg2 O-O-O 15.O-O b4 16.Na4 Qb5 17.a3 Nb8 18.axb4 cxb4 19.Qd4 Nc6 20.dxc6 Rxd4 21.cxb7+ Kb8! 22.Be3 e5 23.b3 c3 24.Rfd1 Bh6 25.Bxd4 exd4 26.Rxd4 c2 27.Rc4 Qxc4!=

Feb-17-13  Hesam7: <Helloween> thanks, I did not know about Black's Queen sacrifice which does indeed equalize.
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