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Magnus Carlsen vs Jeffery Xiong
Isle of Man Masters (2017), Douglas IMN, rd 3, Sep-25
Zukertort Opening: Sicilian Invitation (A04)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-25-17  dehanne: Anything wrong with 31...Qd8?
Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: <dehanne> The first thing that pops to mind is that it loses the bishop to 32. Rxe6.
Sep-25-17  Marmot PFL: White win the bishop with 32 Rxe6, black trades queens then plays Rc8 and white has to trade the knight for the c-pawn. Black was too short on time to find that though probably.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Marmot> He had over five minutes left when he made his 31st move, and that's a pretty simple line for a strong player. Be interesting to know what he missed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: He might have seen the line and thought White would be left with connected a and b pawns at the end. But the engines say White has to hunt pawns and has no advantage.
Sep-25-17  Marmot PFL: Five minutes for ten moves isn't that much if Carlsen is playing fast (as he tends to do) and black had several other moves to consider, like 31...Ra6. Black was also probably very nervous playing against the world champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Marmot PFL: Five minutes for ten moves isn't that much if Carlsen is playing fast (as he tends to do) and black had several other moves to consider, like 31...Ra6. Black was also probably very nervous playing against the world champion.>

You're right, of course. I'm a patzer with a computer and I would hate to be the guy who says "can't believe he missed that, lol." But I am curious to know if Xiong said anything about the end of the game.

Sep-25-17  scholes: If you click on engine link it will show sf multipv analysis. 31 ..Qd8 was fine. I wonder how does it work. In one position it shows me 6 minute analysis, in another six seconds.
Sep-25-17  Mudphudder: And just like that, Magnus wipes out another young American hopeful. LOL
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Apparently 31...Qd8! is an amazing equalizing resource. After 31...Qd8 31...Qd8 32.Rxe6 Qxf6 33.Rxf6 Rc8 34.Nd4 c2 35.Nxc2 Rxc2 36.Rxh6 Ke7 37.Rb6 d4 = (+0.18 @ 48 depth, Stockfish 8) Black is "Back in the Saddle Again" with a level position.

P.S.: Hear the original Gene Autry rendition of "Back in the Saddle Again" at or the Aerosmith version at

Oct-01-17  Ulhumbrus: 29 e6 can be regarded as an improvement on 29 h6 at once, as it obstructs the sixth rank for the black queen
Oct-01-17  visayanbraindoctor: The sequence of moves

Nd7? 10. Bxe7 Nxe7 11. Ne5 cxd4?? 12. exd4 Nxe5 13. dxe5

allows Carlsen to plant a pawn on e5 in a French-like semiclosed middlegame. In such a position, if White embarks on a direct Kindside pawn storm, there is little that Black can do about it. I would opine that Xiong got himself into a positionally nearly lost game right in the opening. Carlsen, with his extraordinarily fine technique, almost always has little trouble in converting such positions into a win.

Thus 9.. Nd7? must be a mistake.

After Carlsen occupies the e5 square immediately with

11. Ne5

Xiong commits another mistake by playing 11.. cxd4??


12. exd4, we have a French-like semiclosed position with White's e5 pawn permanently cramping Black's Kingside, while Black cannot do his traditional counterplay of c5 (because he has exchanged this pawn already), or f6 (because of the weak b1 - h7 diagonal).

Best thing for Xiong to have done was to maintain the central tension by avoiding the pawn exchange (say by 11... Qb6)

After 11... cxd4 12. exd4 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Black looks positonally lost. (And will most probably lose the game against a player of high caliber such as Carlsen unless unexpected tactical resources are found, as kibitzers above have pointed out.)

Carlsen himself is a wizard at avoiding such positions as he has an extraordinary intuition for positional play. If playing Black, he surely would have declined to play 9.. Nd7? and especially 11.. cxd4??

11.. cxd4?? would probably aghast teachers like Nimzovich who recommended not releasing the central tension in such positions.

Regarding GM Xiong, I know that many Americans see him as another bright hope for the future. But this game, in which he commits basic positional mistakes in the opening to middlegame transition, IMO portends badly for him (unless he learns from it).

Oct-02-17  BOSTER: Xiong is too young to make any conclusions.
Oct-24-17  Ulhumbrus: One objection to 2 c3 is that it relieves Black from the problems he faces normally in queen's pawn openings. However Black may have to play very accurately and carefully to take advantage of it.

5...h6 disturbs the king side pawns without necessity. One alternative is 5...Be7 eg 6 Nbd2 Nbd7 7 Bd3 b6 transposing into the famous game Spassky vs Petrosian, 1966

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Both 6...h6 and 9...Nd7 have been mentioned as anti-positional, but I don't think h6 would have been so bad if he hadn't followed up with Nd7. h6 and then subsequently using 2 moves to allow BxB anyway (Why not Be7 and Nd7 without h6 if he wanted to exchange Bishops?) is a stunning waste of time with Black against the WC.

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