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Magnus Carlsen vs Hikaru Nakamura
Sinquefield Cup (2013), Saint Louis, MO USA, rd 3, Sep-11
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Karlsbad Variation (E62)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 21 OF 21 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-11-13  csmath: This is second game in a row for Magnus when he was unable to assert anything.

Looking closely at the analysis by Ramirez it is obvious that Nakamura played excellent game and Magnus was not exactly precise but good enough to hold the position.

Sep-12-13  lost in space: Magnus hold his inferior position after he gave the exchange for a pawn. He is a hard nut to break.
Sep-12-13  estrick: It was an exciting game, not boring at all, even if the result suggests as much.
Sep-12-13  Mudphudder: Is it me or did Naka look like a complete douche bag with the sunglasses? Did he mistaken the chessboard for a poker table? LMAO...
Sep-12-13  Hesam7: <parisattack: 10. b3 looked good - fortifying the c4 pawn weakened by the fianchetto and moving the b-pawn out of harms way.

But it never seemed like Carlson had much. Someone suggested 16. Qb3 instead of 16. Qd3.>

I think the idea of 10 b3 is to prevent ...e5 but then Black has 10...g5! which completely equalizes.

Then Nakamura played the inaccurate 13...b5?! which hands the initiative to White after 14 Qd3! b4 15 Nd5 etc. instead Black should have played 13...e6, at any rate Carlsen went for 14 cb5?! after which the game is balanced.

Finally 15...d5?! also seems like a mistake and 16 Qb3! would be quite an improvement for White: 16...e6 17 Rfd1 Qe7 18 a3 Rd8 19 Bf1


click for larger view

Sep-12-13  ChessYouGood: Difficult thing about this game for Nakamura is that he'll rarely get this sort of position against Magnus again: and wasn't able to convert it here. Magnus, on the other hand, converts when he gets an advantage.
Sep-12-13  Skakalec: <Calli> After 21...♗a6 22.♕c2 ♗xe2 23.♗xd5! white has at least draw, because of the nasty ♕g6 threat.
Sep-12-13  Skakalec: <DrChopper> 34...♕d6 runs into 35.♕xd6 cxd6 36.c7! and white winns
Sep-12-13  messachess: In the interview, Naka stated his strategy as taking some risk in order not to get ground down. Carlsen's style probably puts everyone at risk like that. It's an uncomfortable choice. There is no safe way to play Carlsen. You have to take risks in the opening to get a wide open tactical game. In the case of this game, it can be a way to possibly win.

But then, that's always the way it is with taking risks.

Sep-12-13  znsprdx: Watching live I thought 24....Rd6 offered the most promise - especially with the time advantage... The fear of losing the c7 pawn is unfounded because White's rook cannot leave its home rank without Black setting up mate threats
Sep-12-13  csmath: <Then Nakamura played the inaccurate 13...b5?! which hands the initiative to White after 14 Qd3! b4 15 Nd5 etc. instead Black should have played 13...e6, at any rate Carlsen went for 14 cb5?! after which the game is balanced.>

Nakamura went for active game.
13. ... e6 is a passive move which does not improve black position at all.

Just one look at the position of black bishop and the weaknesses around the black king and that is enough to see why this is not the move to play. Black bishop needs to get out and onto the kingside.

Now about 16. Qb3.

I would have played the same as Magnus (16. Qd3) since that is the most "logical" move. I think most master level players would not put queen on the rook file if they plan to play a4.

Black should continue to station his bishop on the kingside and then to play e6.

16. Qb3 Bg4

It is interesting now that engine proposes 17. Rcd1 while of course the other option 17. Rfd1 seems more logical to me

17. Rfd1 e6

And now the break:

18. e4 Qe7
19. exd5 Nxd5
20. Nxd5 exd5
21. Rd2 Rfd8

and white is clearly better here although active bishop pair is some compensation.

Again, I would not criticize Magnus here since he had a plan with a4 and pawn majority on the queenside and he followed his plan. This plan did not work out as good as he probably expected but in that plan Qb3 was not the move to make.

Sep-12-13  csmath: I think Magnus had a solid plan but Nakamura played excellent active game and with

18. ...Ne4

changed the whole game complexion which forced Magnus to reconsider his plan. This is an example of good Nakamura style. The game has no major errors and it is one very good game by Naka.

Sep-12-13  Hesam7: <csmath: Nakamura went for active game. 13. ... e6 is a passive move which does not improve black position at all.>

How is 13...e6 a passive move? 13...b5?! is simply bad, had Carlsen played 14 Qd3 b4 15 Nd5 (this is why you should cover the d5-square), he would have had an advantage.

Even in the game continuation 13...b5?! created a very weak pawn on b5 and made the c6-pawn into a real asset for White.

<csmath: Just one look at the position of black bishop and the weaknesses around the black king and that is enough to see why this is not the move to play. Black bishop needs to get out and onto the kingside.>

How does 13...b5?! help with getting the Bishop out? Isn't 13...b6 more logical if your only goal is to free the Bishop?

Sep-12-13  csmath: <How does 13...b5?! help with getting the Bishop out? Isn't 13...b6 more logical if your only goal is to free the Bishop?> Well, it is a matter of taste.

13. ...e6

is a passive move and this is not in style of Nakamura. He plays different chess. I personally think this is not a good move regardless though my own style is slightly less aggressive than Nakamura's.

The problem with

13. ... b6

is that LS bishop is needed on the kingside in defence of king thus it will have to get out onto the kingside.

13. ...b6 is possibly a better move than 13. ...b5 but because it creates sacrificial motives on b6/d6 (say in in the endgame) this is something Nakamura probably did not consider as good move either. Besides that move is not to open the bishop.

I did not say that 13. ...b5 is a great move but as I see black really has no great moves here.

However you are exaggerating about position being bad after

13. ...b5
14. Qd3 b4
15. Nd5

and while white is better this is still very active game. You can play 15. ...e6 now and then ... a5 and ...Qe7 and white has a long way to prove he is better.

Sep-12-13  csmath: I followed the game live for the first 16 moves and then I had to work so I left it. My immediate impression (without engine available) was that white is better even after 16 moves.

I was not really surprised with 13. ...b5 but I was very much surprised with 18. ...Ne4 when I saw that after the game but then again I realized this is Nakamura and everything became clear. This is how he plays for better or worse. This is his style and this is both his weakness and strength.

He is not going to play passive moves unless they are forced.

I said Magnus had a consistent plan to work with queenside pawn majority and this is why he played the way he played. He did not find better way and that happens. These guys did not have Houdini and they used their brain. The game is very logical to me and only the final position is somewhat strange. This is still a very good game.

Sep-13-13  Hesam7: <csmath: Well, it is a matter of taste.

13. ...e6

is a passive move and this is not in style of Nakamura. He plays different chess. I personally think this is not a good move regardless though my own style is slightly less aggressive than Nakamura's.

The problem with

13. ... b6

is that LS bishop is needed on the kingside in defence of king thus it will have to get out onto the kingside.

13. ...b6 is possibly a better move than 13. ...b5 but because it creates sacrificial motives on b6/d6 (say in in the endgame) this is something Nakamura probably did not consider as good move either. Besides that move is not to open the bishop.

I did not say that 13. ...b5 is a great move but as I see black really has no great moves here.

However you are exaggerating about position being bad after

13. ...b5
14. Qd3 b4
15. Nd5

and while white is better this is still very active game. You can play 15. ...e6 now and then ... a5 and ...Qe7 and white has a long way to prove he is better.>

That seems inconsistent, you dismiss 13...e6 because it interferes with the idea of transferring the c8-Bishop to the K-side. Yet after 13...b5?! 14 Qd3 b4 15 Nd5 you recommend 15...e6 which does the same. If you dislike 13...e6, it seems 13...b5?! will give you an inferior version of the same.

For what is worth Carlsen is also critical of 14 cb5?! saying "It was probably a mistake to capture on b5," here is the link: http://www.arcticsec.no/index.php?b...

Sep-13-13  csmath: <That seems inconsistent, you dismiss 13...e6 because it interferes with the idea of transferring the c8-Bishop to the K-side. Yet after 13...b5?! 14 Qd3 b4 15 Nd5 you recommend 15...e6 which does the same. If you dislike 13...e6, it seems 13...b5?! will give you an inferior version of the same.>

15. ...e6 is forced because the knight is on d5 and it is not any worse than 13. ...e6 which is only what you seem to think.

You criticized 13. ...b5 for no reason. I've said that is active move the way Nakamura plays. There are reasons for that move. If there is a b4 to follow then it will open b5 for b-rook as a possible avenue to get into the game. Nakamura was simply trying to activate his pieces.

Again, 15. ...e6 is not inferior to 13. ...e6. The only thing you seem to think is that 13. ...b5 is a bad move. That is not so as there are no better moves.

I've said 13. ...e6 or 13. ...b5 is a matter of taste. Nakamura prefers 13. ...b5 and so would I, the move was not a surprise to me. He would not play e6 unless it is forced and neither would I. In my view that is too passive move and I would make it only if I am forced. I hope that is clear.

Your proposal to Nakamura is that he should play a passive move when it is not needed. He is not that kind of player, he always plays active for better or worse. You need to understand that. So unless you can decidedly prove that some passive move is better than some active move that is pointless. There is nothing wrong with 13. ...b5 and apparently it is a kind of move that confused Magnus so it worked beyond expectation.

Sep-13-13  Kinghunt: The best position Nakamura's ever had against Carlsen - but Carlsen was still never in any danger of losing.

Carlsen is very different from Aronian, Kramnik, and Anand in that the latter group tends to get very few bad positions. Carlsen gets a wider range of positions and simply wins all the good ones and holds a draw in all the bad ones.

Sep-13-13  csmath: Every top player has some style and character. Nakamura is fast, aggressive, and dynamic player. He does not know to play passive. He himself said that he wanted to play active rather than to wait to be strangled. And this worked.

I always prefered active play so my taste is fairly close to his. When he plays well I can easily recognize that. In this game he played well. I do not see any errors in his opening though it was slightly worse. When he got a chance to turn the tables he did exactly that. In all of the critical positions in this game he made active choices therefore this game is a SIGNATURE Nakamura game. This is who he is.

Sep-13-13  Hesam7: <csmath> you criticized 13...e6 b/c it is passive and shuts the c8-Bishop out of K-side. After 13...b5?! 14 Qd3 b4 15 Nd5 e6 16 Ne3 (avoid exchanges when you have the space advantage):


click for larger view

the c8-Bishop is still going nowhere, Black has a new weakness on b4 (later a5) and he has to deal with the c6-pawn. From the diagram I don't see any active play for Black, he can't play ...e5 or ...d5 and b/c of the c4-pawn the c8-Bishop is out of the game even after ...a5 & ...Ba6. Here is a sample line my engine came up with:

16...a5 17 Rcd1 h5 18 Ng5 Bh6 19 f4 Qe7 20 Bf3 Bg5 21 fg5 Ne8 22 g6 Qg5 23 gf7 Rf7 24 Bg2 Rf1 25 Rf1


click for larger view

and only here it realized how worse Black was. Of course the line is not forced but shows you how passive the b8-Rook and the c8-Bishop are.

Even after what Magnus played, the b5-pawn is an annoying weakness for Black (our combined analysis on 16 Qb3 illustrates that). That is why I think 13...b5?! is simply worse.

I am trying to evaluate the moves objectively and generally speaking playing a weaker move to confuse your opponent is not a guide to long term success. Finally if after only 13 moves the best option goes against your style then you have not done your homework.

Sep-13-13  kappertjes: <Kinghunt: The best position Nakamura's ever had against Carlsen - but Carlsen was still never in any danger of losing.>

I am not so sure. Carlsen managed to keep/find the draw in time pressure, which is impressive, but he has lost in time pressure in the past and therefore I'd say he was definitely in danger of losing.

<Kinghunt: Carlsen is very different from Aronian, Kramnik, and Anand in that the latter group tends to get very few bad positions. Carlsen gets a wider range of positions and simply wins all the good ones and holds a draw in all the bad ones.>

This seems a bit much. Sure Carlsen is pretty impressive and manages wins and draws where many others wouldn't but he does lose (a pretty convincing win from Ivanchuk at the candidates stands out as a game where he got outplayed in the opening, middle and endgame) and he does miss wins. Still, have to say it doesn't happen often.

Sep-13-13  Ulhumbrus: Is there any need for 13...b5? After 13...bxc6 Black has the bishop pair and central pawn superiority
Sep-13-13  csmath: <From the diagram I don't see any active play for Black>

Okay, let me explain as if that is needed.

13. ...b5 is an active move because:

(A) It counteracts to white's obvious plan to move his a-b pawns, this is I think natural and obvious plan by Magnus which game confirmed.

(B) It opens b6 square for possible approach of b-rook to advanced c-pawn

(C) in case of ...b4 as it happened in the game this move opens square b5 for black rook to enter the game through b-file.

These are the logical reasons for the move that Nakamura obviously saw. Is it too hard to see that now long after the game?

The other two possible moves do nothing of sort.

13. ...b6 does nothing but stops possible exchange of pawns. It looks passive.

13. ...e6 prevents knight to d5 which can be done later so there is no reason for passive preventive move like that that immediately shuts down black bishop.

Therefore I see no better move than 13. ...b5 which is the only active move among these three and therefore IT IS THE MOVE THAT ACTIVE PLAYER WOULD SELECT.

Sep-13-13  csmath: Moreover 13. ...b5 is no worse than any other moves in the position. Nakamura stated in post-game remarks that he wanted to play active rather than to wait to be strangled.

It is obvious that is exactly what he has done and the game went his way.

He certainly does not have Houdini in his head but he does understands dynamics of chess position better than anybody else here. I played blitzes against him so I can confirm that.

Also in case of Magnus, yes he could have played possibly better than

14. cxb5?! [it seems 14. Qd3 was better]

but the move he made is consistent with his strategy in the game. In other words he played consistent even though not the best. And just like Nakamura he did not have a benefit of seeing 0.2 evaluation of Houdini as opposed to 0.02. He used his intuitive sense and available calculation.

Basically I believe he was simply surprised with

18. ...Ne4!?

which is a rabbit Nakamura pulled out of his tactical hat and it worked well. Sometimes one cannot foresee that.

============
More on Nakamura:

If you analyze more of his games you will notice that he does not position his pawn structures as to be preventive. He does not play like that.

He uses pawns to open positions and to allow his pieces to be active. This is his signature style.

For better or worse. He is one of the best chess players in the world, surely top-10 player and therefore this style has a merit. He won't change to start playing like Petrosian, thank god.

Sep-13-13  Kinghunt: <kappertjes> Yes, <all> is too strong. <most> would be a better word. I wasn't trying to make a statement of absolutes, just point out how Carlsen differs from other top players.
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