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Magnus Carlsen vs Alexander Grischuk
Tal Memorial (2012), Moscow RUS, rd 4, Jun-12
Spanish Game: Closed. Martinez Variation (C78)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-12-12  magnuschess: anyway , that was crazy game , i am bit disappointed for the result btw.
Jun-12-12  luzhin: Only a patzer or a genius would play 13.Ne3 allowing his pawns to be wrecked and his QB to be locked in. In a game of many fascinating possibilities, one was 25.Bxe6 fxe6 26.Bxe5! Qxe5 27.d4 Qf6 28.dxc5 when White's attacking chances fully compensate for his horrible pawns.
Jun-12-12  galdur: Great game, splendid draw although not electronically perfect.
Jun-12-12  kappertjes: A great game. What is interesting how MC had to accept disadvantages, his bishop being the clear point, to avoid drawing lines. In a way a victory for Grischuk since he forces either a drawn or a good position.

Interestingly during the press-conference after the game it sounded like both players thought their positions were slightly better.

Jun-12-12  Bobby Fiske: BISHOP NEGLECT
Someone please report Magnus Carlsen to the chess police for the mistreatment of his DSB in this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <In a game of many fascinating possibilities, one was 25.Bxe6 fxe6 26.Bxe5! Qxe5 27.d4 Qf6 28.dxc5 when White's attacking chances fully compensate for his horrible pawns.>

Btw, in the press conference Carlsen said that when he accepted the "terrible" bishop on g3 (not wanting to play 14.Qxf3 and allow Nd4 & Nxb3) he was hoping to get a d4 break at a certain stage in order to re-activate it. Only here you have to give up the bishop in order to make the break...

Another tactical point worth noting is that 28...Nxc5 (instead of bxc5) would be met by 29.Bxh4! when 29...gxh4 loses to 30.Qc1! with the lethal threat of Qh6+ & Nf6 - the point being that with the knight out of e6, there's no ...Nf4 to block the queen's path. Carlsen and Grischuk actually had some trouble finding a clear forced win after 30...Nd7 31.Qh6+ Kg8, but the silicon beast points without hesitation to 32.Ne3 Qf6 33.Rg6!; relatively best for Black is actually 30...Nf5 31.exf5 f6, but 32.d4! still gives White a winning initiative.

(Link to the press conference:

Jun-12-12  Jacob Arnold: None of the Digicasts work for me today.... It always says can't connect to server, please stand by....
Jun-12-12  Bobby Fiske: <Jacob Arnold> Perhaps you have (like me) a new PC with latest version of Internet Explorer 9?

-Chessbomb is still not compatible with IE9. So I downloaded and installed Chrome and it works perfect.

Jun-12-12  Ulhumbrus: 13 Ne3? is a mistake which does not answer Black's threat of ...Bxf3. 13 c3 is necessary.

14 gxf3?? is a positional blunder. After 14 Qxf3 Nd4 15 Qh3 Nxb3 16 cxb3 White may be able to defend the game.

After 15 Bg3 White's queen's bishop is out of play. The question is: Can Black transfer all of the play to the queen side? 15...Na5! makes a atart. If Black can avoid letting White free his queen's biahop. White can be expected to lose.

As Carlsen is one of the strongeat players in the world we may think it possible that he has in mind some resource which frees his queen's bishop even against the best play on Black's part, but that is speculation. Perhaps Carlsen's own somments later will provide the answer.

Jun-12-12  galdur: These players seem well matched. There is only one win out of seven classical games. Alex is very strong, he lost the right to challenge Anand to Gelfand. As for Magnus, he seems to be playing around as young people typically do. A huge talent he somehow seems to be giving odds to opponents.
Jun-12-12  kappertjes: <14 gxf3?? is a positional blunder. After 14 Qxf3 Nd4 15 Qh3 Nxb3 16 cxb3 White may be able to defend the game.>

You can be quite sure that 14.gxf3 was played on purpose and is no blunder. After Qf3 white can not avoid exchanges and while the move would be better according to engines, it also leads to simplification and a likely draw. I view gxf3 as the sacrifice Carlsen has to make to complicate. In other words, Grischuk gets a good position out of the opening and both get to play for a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Carlsen mentioned "every chess player knows" that such a bishop on g3 is bad, but went on to explain that every other piece of his was good, which is why he went into the line.

Grischuk made the witty comment that both players overvalued their positions.

Jun-13-12  Andrijadj: This is an interesting game, but I think that strategy employed by Carlsen is completely incorrect. Positionally unsound. I would like to see him play like this againtst Kramnik or Anand, he would be dead in 30 moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <tamar: Carlsen mentioned "every chess player knows" that such a bishop on g3 is bad, but went on to explain that every other piece of his was good, which is why he went into the line.>

Yes, and there are also some important positional factors that compensate for the "badness" of that bishop by significantly increasing White's attacking chances on the K-side, once moves 14-15 are played: 1. The disappearance of Black's LSB creates light-square weaknesses; 2. The advancement of Black's g & h pawns, first made to restrict the bishop and later (on moves 24-25) to capture it, creates further weaknesses; 3. The g-file is opened. Besides the actual moves played, the influence of these factors is very evident in many of the sidelines that Grischuk constantly had to be very careful not to step into (such as 28...Nxc5 29.Bxh4 gxh4 30.Qc1, which I mentioned in a previous post).

The game was very complex and it's extremely difficult to make a precise judgment about the relative weight of all these factors, but there's a lot of substance behind Carlsen's decision to allow the doubling of his pawns on the f-file; it was a very unconventional and creative way to unbalance the game and get chances to play for a win. And it's telling that by move 25, without any obviously bad moves from Grischuk, Carlsen could already have gained a clear advantage had he noticed a certain tactical possibility (the Bxe6-Bxe5-d4 idea, mentioned by <luzhin>).

Jun-13-12  frogbert: andrijadj, carlsen's first ever victory against kramnik came after rather unconventional play.

secondly, carlsen played the opening in a crazy manner in last year's tal memorial - making the grischul game look flawless in comparison. and you know what? kramnik having the white pieces didn't just fail to win; in the final position where they repeated moves, carlsen was even winning, relying on a resource that none of the players saw.

in short: you're wrong that such strategies can't work against players like kramnik. they can and they have!

Jun-13-12  achieve: <Eyal>-<Carlsen could already have gained a clear advantage had he noticed a certain tactical possibility (the Bxe6-Bxe5-d4 idea, mentioned by <luzhin>).> I am looking into this but I see no clear advantage whatsoever. Of course Black doesn't have to recapture on <e5> with the Q as in Luzhin's line, but can play 26...dxe5 - and Black looks more than fine, as the Interesting Knight moves are easily countered, and d4 and f4 are losing/dynamic equality respectively.

So where's the "clear advantage"?

I must say admit the line is tempting, but with time on the clock for Black (and White) in almost all lines (after 26...dxe5) but one leads to disadvantage for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: 25.Bxe6 fxe6 26.Bxe5 dxe5 (instead of Qxe5) 27.Rxc5 just looks winning for White - he's a pawn up at the moment and Black's pawns are terribly weak. (And for what it's worth, Houdini evaluates the position at about +3.)

Btw, 25...Nxe6 in this line loses to 26.f4! with the discovered attack on h5 - e.g. 26...g4 27.fxe5 dxe5 28.Nxg4! hxg4 29.Qxg4 Kh7 30.Bxe5!

Jun-13-12  achieve: <Eyal> Mix up of lines, partly my fault, but of course the recapture on <e6> is with the Knight, as fxe6 loses on the spot, which I ought to have mentioned up front, so there's the immediate first improvement for Black, after which of course we were looking at two different lines.

But even then it is interesting to look at Bxe5, but its sting has been sorta neutralized by the correct recapture at <e6>.

Following Nxe6 c5 is controlled and really a very dynamic position remains, without clear advantages.

After Bxe6 fxe6, yes agreed, big trouble, so apologies for the mix up, but the Knight recapture leads to some fantastic dynamic lines, focusing on the a-pawn passer with potential long-term decisive power. Among many other things.

Jun-13-12  achieve: PS - here's the Diagram after Knight takes Bxe6; Bxe5(!?) dxe5:

click for larger view

But even here the engine certainly "likes the sac" Bg3xe5, and it is its first choice. And for good reason it seems, but Black's resources here are sufficient, to put it simplified.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: I had an inkling that you were thinking about the knight recapture, that's why I mentioned this line as well... (I deleted the first version of my post and re-posted, so maybe you missed it). 25...Nxe6 loses to 26.f4! because of the weakening of h5.

Also, judging by your diagram you're looking at the wrong position, because the black pawn should still be on h5, not h4.

Jun-13-12  achieve: You're right, the Bxe6 line is on move 25, not 26, so apologies for the trouble, although I had quite an enjoyable early afternoon with the line a move later, in a sharper position.

Ack... Won't happen again. I'm rusty!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: From Carlsen's post-tournament interview with Evgeny Atarov:

<What was the decisive moment for you? The win against Radjabov?

- That was a very important win, but the key was probably the game against Grischuk. And if I'd played a little more concretely coming out of the opening - Black might have had very serious problems. Still, we played an interesting game.

Black, it seemed, had already won my bishop on g3. I also sacrificed the exchange and at some point I could have ended up a full rook down, but I rated White's chances very highly. When I found that idea I simply couldn't resist playing it. And look, people talk about me as a player who doesn't care about beauty. That's not true. It's simply that during the game each person sees beauty in different things. I like the beauty of the endgame, but I [also] get pleasure from finding ideas like those against Grischuk.> (

Jun-30-12  gredow: Eyal: 25.Bxe6 fxe6 26.Bxe5 dxe5 (instead of Qxe5) 27.Rxc5...(And for what it's worth, Houdini evaluates the position at about +3.)

Every time I see computer analysis I recall a quote from one of the GM's: "Anyone under 2200 cannot understand what is happening OTB." I am nowhere near it, but still follow the games with enthusiasm.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: At any rate, with this line I think it should be quite easy even for sub-2200s without an engine to see why it's winning for White...

Btw, I see that I've mentioned only 25...Nxe6 & fxe6 in response to 25.Bxe6 - there's a third possibility as well, 25...Qxe6, but then the 26.Bxe5 idea works even better than in case of ...fxe6, because after 26...Qxe5 27.d4 Black doesn't get counterplay on the opened f-file (and 26...f6 27.d4 Bb6 28.Bxf6! followed by Rbxg5 is crushing).

One reason for missing 25.Bxe6 might be Carlsen's instinctive reluctance to part with his great light-squared bishop (especially when compared with the other, "horrible" bishop).

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Eyal: <Another tactical point worth noting is that 28...Nxc5 (instead of dxc5) would be met by 29.Bxh4! when 29...gxh4 loses to 30.Qc1!...>>>

It's worth to mention that black isn't forced to recapture after <29.Bxh4>:

click for larger view

After <30...Nh5 31.Bg3 f6> I haven't found anything that gives white an advantage.

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