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Magnus Carlsen vs Francisco Vallejo Pons
Grand Slam Chess Final (2012), Sao Paulo BRA, rd 7, Oct-09
French Defense: Winawer. Delayed Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-09-12  The17thPawn: Ok I see why 16..., f6 isn't the best idea but why is it not possible as blacks 17th move?
Oct-09-12  ChemMac: If 17....f6 then 18. f5; if then 18....fg 19.fg Nf6 20.hg wins the piece back. If then 20.....Ne4 21. Qf7 Kh8 22. Nf5 Bf6 23. Be4 de 24.Rf4
Oct-09-12  paramount: <Ok I see why 16..., f6 isn't the best idea>

Can you explain...why?

Oct-09-12  The17thPawn: <Paramount> - Looks like 16...,f6 leads to bxg6 and if black plays fxg5 then qh5 cooks blacks goose. <ChemMac> Thanks for the answer but I was looking at 20...Nf8-d7 to recapture with either knight or bishop after pawn takes knight and provide the king with a flight square. I'm not certain if its better than the game but I can't find an immediate win for white.
Oct-09-12  csmath: This whole variation has been very often played in blitz games when white is afraid of analyses. I find it crapy except in the hands of Carlsen!

Who else would play 14. f4? It looks like an awful move and yet you cannot refute it!

15. Qf3 underlines the harmonious development of white but black has no weaknesses either.

16. h4! is a very challenging move over the board, and this is where Carlsen offers the gamble to Vallejo. Vallejo became nervous and played 16. ... Ndf8?!

Engine recommends treacherous Qb6 and it is indeed the best move although this is clearly slap in the face of white and a challenge that would most likely end up tremendeously difficult for black over the board.

This is what Carlsen forced Vallejo into and Vallejo blinked!

But even there black can have a draw until Vallejo makes a mistake with 19. ... f6?

Better player like Anand would probably played better. Magnus will need to learn something better as this whole opening would not be convincing against Anand or Aronian.

Oct-09-12  ChemMac: (The17thPawn) After your 20...N8d7 the last thing White would think of is 21 PXN? (gf) 21.Nh5, intending to get to play Qh5 after both Black Knights have gone. Just in my head, but doesn't Black get checkmated?
Oct-09-12  csmath: This game was won because Carlsen is better than Vallejo but this is not exceptional game and it is not the way Carlsen could win against folks like Aronian, Anand, Kramnik etc.

He will need to study openings better. I wonder if he is lazy or whether this is just functional ("I know I can beat Vallejo with this crap so let's just do it").

Oct-09-12  The17thPawn: <ChemMac> - I haven't figured that out yet. I have black playing Qb6 after whites Nh5 and things get very complex if white pursues the line your discussing. However if white simply replies c3 to avoid the queen check I'm not sure black has a way out. Still looking at the position. Thanks again for a good attacking line.
Oct-09-12  The17thPawn: <ChemMac> - Looks like after 21.Nh5,Qb6 22.c3,c5 23.Nxf6,Nxf6 24.Pxf6,Qxf6 black is defending. Once again I'm not claiming these lines are better than the game but Black is not yet wiped off the board. I did not explore the line wher white does not defend the d pawn as it seems to give black sufficient counter play at first glance.
Oct-09-12  Eyal: <The17thPawn> Black isn't defending at all in your line - he's mated in a few more moves after 25.Qxd5+. He does have a better defence after 17...f6 18.f5 with 18...Nxg5, though, so the best way to refute 17...f6 should be 18.h5.
Oct-09-12  The17thPawn: <Eyal> Thanks totally missed that how embarassing:) Well looks like Qb6 doesn't work after all. But thanks to you and ChemMac for helping see why 17...f6 doesn't work.
Oct-09-12  ChemMac: (csmath) 16...Qb6 looks to me dangerous, removing the Q from defence. After 17 Qf2 Qb2 would be really asking for trouble, after18 Rab1 Just off the top of my head, 18....Qa2 19 Rb7 Rad8 20 f5 Nhf8 looks pretty miserable for Black.

16...Qb6 ought to be bad on principle. However; computers look at tactical possibilities, not ideas.

Oct-10-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: After that center bind, it looked like Pons was going to lose.
Oct-10-12  Bureaucrat: <He will need to study openings better. I wonder if he is lazy or whether this is just functional ("I know I can beat Vallejo with this crap so let's just do it").>

Carlsen has said that he doesn't like to study openings. However, I still think Carlsen studies a lot and works hard on his chess.

When people see some offbeat opening from Carlsen, they conclude that he is lazy because he doesn't study the main lines. Yet when Carlsen plays a brilliant ending, nobody is saying that Carlsen must have been working very hard to become so strong in endgames. Perhaps spending less time on opening preparation gives him more time to study games, ideas, strategy, etc? And perhaps Carlsen's choice to spend a relatively small portion of his time on opening preparation pays off in terms of better results?

Oct-10-12  csmath: <16...Qb6 ought to be bad on principle. However; computers look at tactical possibilities, not ideas.>

I looked that, yes it seems very dangerous and you need to play very precisely. What happens in that queen gets onto second and third rank and starts harrasing white in a manner that white cannot effectively proceed with attack. But of course engines make no tactical mistakes.

I would personally never played 16. ... Qb6 precisely because of what you said - it looks too dangerous. I would get nervous the same way Valleyo was. However, he did make some bad errors, starting with 19. ... f6?

Given the position, that could have been the decisive error and there was no way to effectively defend black position after that, I think.

Oct-10-12  csmath: As for the principles ... they are not necessarily always set in stone. Tactical considerations can sometimes overturn that.

Fischer has shown to us all in 1960-ies that one can grab a pawn in Poison Pawn Najdorf without being punished for that. Strong players sometimes "violate" principles just to disturb the equilibrium. Carlsen does that all the time.

When you are strong, you can do "anything."

Against Carlse one needs to take the bull by the horns because if you don't he will hurt you.

Oct-10-12  Eyal: If Vallejo wasn't ready to commit to the risky 16...Qb6, he should probably have gone for exchanges a move earlier with 15...Bxg5 16.fxg5 Nxg5 17.Qxd5 Nb6, to diffuse White's strong K-side attack.

Carlsen's response to Vallejo's attempt at counter-attack on move 31 might seem a bit strange at a first glance, since 32.b3 and then 33.bxc4 actually open lines and diagonals for the black queen. Perhaps the idea was to allow White to meet 34...Qb6+ with 35.Qe3, when White has a considerable advantage both if Black exchanges queens or avoids it - the point is that without the pawn exchange on c4, 33.Be2 Qb6+ 34.Qe3 loses to 34...d4 followed by d3+, so instead White has to move with the king and allow Qd4.

In the game, after 34...g5 35.g3 White had to allow Qb6+ followed by a penetration of the black queen anyway, but here Black had to pay the price of considerably weakening his king's position with the g-pawn advance, thus helping White's attack. Still, Black could have used the opening of the long diagonal to pose more problems for White with 36...Qc6+ 37.Kf1 (37.Bf3? Qxf3+! 38.Kxf3 g4+) 37...gxf4 38.gxf4 Qe4.

Going back to move 32, comp analysis shows that the most accurate way to win the game was by <32.g4!>, but that was quite tricky to calculate and evaluate. The two critical lines are: a) 32...fxg4 33.Qh4! (with the threats of Bxg6 & Qf6+) 33...Rf7 34.Qg5 Rg7 35.Rh6 Kg8 36.Qxg6!; b) 32...c4 33.gxf5 Qb6+ 34.Kf3 cxd3 35.f6 Rc7 (to defend against Qc8+) 36.Qh6! (threatening mate on f8 to pull the black queen back; 36.cxd3? Qd4 37.Qh6 Qxd3+ 38.Kg5 Qf5+) 36...Qe6 37.cxd3 with Rg1 to follow, collecting the g6 pawn as well.

Oct-10-12  Ulhumbrus: On 36...Qc6+ 37 Kf1 Qe4 38 Qf3 offers an exchange of queens: 38...Qxc2 39 Qd5 Qe4 40 Qxe4 fxe4 41 Kf2 Kg8 42 Ke3 followed by 43 Kxe4

An alternative to 35...Qb6+ is 35...Kg8 unpinning the knight and preparing to match Black's king to the queen side-if White allows it.

Oct-10-12  ChemMac: About "offbeat" openings. Carlsen, and still more Nakamura, often play unusual and probably theoretically inferior opening lines. Against anyone but top GM's, these usually work, because slightly weaker players cannot find the best moves.

Alekhine, for one, would do this often successfully. I'm sure it can be exciting to get away with things, and fun for chess fans too! At Alekhine's peak, he did not have many really strong players at his level. It is a good question how the great players of the past would fare today, but I think that they would see their deficiencies and study until they were once again at the top.

Oct-10-12  csmath: <Alekhine, for one, would do this often successfully.>

Really?
Alekhine was the foremost opening theoretician of his time like Kasparov in his time. He played researched (by him) opening variation in serious games. He knew theory better than anybody before Botvinnik showed up.

Oct-10-12  csmath: What Alekhine sometimes did was to start tremendeous complications in the middlegame and he did that when the opening did not go his way.

Of course Alekhine together with Fischer and Kasparov is my favorite but you need to know that all three of these guys were opening encyclopedias and they did not fool themselves with openings they way Nakamura does. They played what they knew the best.

Oct-11-12  InterChess80: If 16..f6, then 17. Bxg6 fxg5 18.fxg5 and now Black can't avoid mate: if Rf8 will follow: 19.Qh5 Rxf1+ 20.Rxf1 Ndf6 21.gxf6 Nxf6 22.Bf7+ Kf8 23.Be6 and it's all over thereatenig mate with Qf7# as well as Qh8+ Ng8 Qxg8#.

Great game by Carlsen,an aggressive way of the french exchange variation.

Oct-12-12  Swapmeet: GOTD "Apacolypse"
Oct-18-12  Ron: Actually I think Carlsen played the opening quite well. Up to now, when faced with the Winawer, I would play 4. e5. But after seeing the sorts of things Carlsen was doing in this game, I've tried out this opening and had good results.
Oct-11-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Ron: Actually I think Carlsen played the opening quite well. Up to now, when faced with the Winawer, I would play 4. e5. But after seeing the sorts of things Carlsen was doing in this game, I've tried out this opening and had good results.>

It's funny, 100 years ago they <knew> the Winawer was bad because, compared to the regular Exchange variation, Black's KB was misplaced after 4.ed ed. Maybe so...

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