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Levon Aronian vs Magnus Carlsen
GRENKE Chess Classic (2015), Baden-Baden GER, rd 1, Feb-02
Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange. Reshevsky Variation (D36)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-02-15  Whitehat1963: After 36...Rd8, I would have said white has a lead. How do the engines evaluate the positions around that part of the game?
Feb-02-15  disasterion: The engine assessment on had a fractional edge for white from 33... Nd7 through to 36... Rd8, never more than +0.82. After 37.Qh2 it was back to exactly equal.

Feb-02-15  Whitehat1963: Thanks, <disasterion>. I'm not a very good player, but something told me white was ahead at that point. Black's position seemed cramped and uncoordinated. But I guess white wasn't able to capitalize.
Feb-02-15  visayanbraindoctor: 37.Qh2?

It may sound peculiar but this is a move that IMO indicates that Aronian is scared of Carlsen. It leads straight into a drawn endgame after the obvious simplifying rejoiner 37... Qh8.

In other words Aronian began playing for a draw, in a position in which he clearly had a huge space advantage. Black was cramped and had a relatively weak f7 pawn, and so White should have avoided a Queen exchange and instead piled up the pressure with a plan entailing such moves as f6, Rb7, Ng5; or perhaps doubling his rooks on the 7th rank or threatening the 8th rank.

Many players older than Carlsen seem to have a fear of him that psychologically damps down their willingness to play for a win against him if that entails any risk at all. They may see him as an unstoppable train that they have to stop from ramming them by refraining from tactical lines and playing passively and solidly. It's a totally hopeless attitude toward the World Champion, as it plays right into his forte, positionally outplaying his opponents. If Carlsen has any relative weakness, it's his propensity to miss tactical shots now and then. (In this game Carlsen with 33.. Nd7? probably missed the tactic 34. e4 which gives White a significant spacial advantage and rids him of the backwardness of his e-pawn).

For this reason, any genuine threat to Carlsen's reign would have to come from players younger than him. These are players who grew up seeing Carlsen as an established phenomenon that they would have to take down in order to further rise. They may be more willing and psychologically prepared to slug it out in tactical middlegame battles with the World Champion.

Feb-02-15  1d410: <visaya> I am baffled that Carlsen thinks Aronian is a serious challenger to him. He seems to have no problem against Aronian whenever they meet.
Feb-03-15  Ulhumbrus: The website evaluations and Anand's remarks suggest that Aronian could have kept an advantage by not exchanging queens. Short pointed out the nasty pin 37 Qf4! threatening potentially Nd6 and Ne8. Perhaps with 37 Qh2 Aronian selected a wrong way to pin the rook on c7
Feb-03-15  Whitehat1963: So, then, what's best play after 36...Rd8? Can white develop enough of an advantage to get the win?

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