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Sergey Karjakin vs Magnus Carlsen
Norway Chess (2021), Stavanger NOR, rd 5, Sep-12
Sicilian Defense: Lasker-Pelikan. Sveshnikov Variation (B33)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Carlsen's unbeaten streak stops at 23 games, I think, only 102 short of his record.

Karjakin said afterwards that Magnus indicated he went for the Queen exchange, <44...Qxf4 45. gxf4 d3 46. Bxd3 Re3+ 47. Kg2 Rxd3> because he thought there was a potential fortress after <48. c7 Rxb3 49. c8=Q Rxb5>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: I'm not brave enough to comment here, as I might get a 3-day ban once again.
Premium Chessgames Member
  dernier loup de T: Maybe Magnus should stop again to believe in fortresses...
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Messiah: I'm not brave enough to comment here, as I might get a 3-day ban once again.>

Oh, you can comment alright. You just can't be an utter moron. Chessgames is doing you a favor.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Any ban <Carlsen's greatest fan> has received was richly deserved, if only for the banality, stupidity and thoroughgoing lack of content featured in his posts.
Sep-13-21  metatron2: <Messiah: I'm not brave enough to comment here>

Well, if you were going to say something like:

"What on earth was Carlsen thinking when he exchanged queens on move 44 with those 2 (very) advanced white passers, supported by a strong B and with the black K so far away? And no, dreaming of some fortress that is so far a way, is no excuse."

Then I'm with you on that one.

Sep-13-21  jeffboka: Starting on move 28, this was atrocious play from both sides of the board. Based on Stockfish 14 analysis, Karjakin had opportunity after opportunity to put Carlsen away after each atrocious move by Carlsen, but Karjakin kept misplaying until Carlsen was just too bad in his analysis. Pathetic should be the title of this game… pathetic on both sides of the board!
Sep-13-21  Gaito: We may assume that both grandmasters were very nervous, and that might account for the large number of mistakes and oversights made. In addition, the game was difficult. Only with the aid of powerful engines can we disclose the truth in the critical positions. Chess is a difficult game even for the strongest engines, but for ordinary human beings certain positions are not just difficult to judge, but maybe impossible to judge correctly.
Sep-13-21  Gaito:

click for larger view


This is the sort of position where it is very difficult for either player to devise a clear and logical plan of action for the next few moves. That may be the reason why both grandmasters spent vast amounts of time pondering the following moves. The engines can suggest isolated moves but not plans of actions. Maybe in the future an engine will be invented that will suggest not only a recommended move but a a recommended plan of action.

Karjakin played 23.Rac1 after more than eight minutes of thought, a move that almost any coffeehouse player would make even in a blitz game: just move your rook onto the open file, not the king's rook, because it has to protect the f2-pawn for the time being. What are the moves that the engines suggest? SF14 plays here 23.Qf3 and gives an evaluation of -0.81, which means that this engine considers Black's position to be slightly superior. But why? I don't see why Black should stand better, but SF14 is supposed to be "a monster with a thousand eyes that sees everything" (Miles dixit about Kasparov), and if it believes that Black stands better, then Black stands better. Another very strong and reliable engine is Leela Chess Zero (Lc0). What does that engine recommend here? Well, it suggests that White play 23.Qd3, with an evaluaiton of equality (-0.12). If not even the strongest available engines agree on how White should proceed here, we may conclude that the position is rather difficult to assess.

Sep-13-21  SChesshevsky: Not sure if Carlsen thought he was better at 23. Rac1. Believe he might've misremembered his prep or decided to experiment with 15...0-0. Think the whole idea behind ...b5...Bd8 and the tempo with...Ba5 is to exchange the N with bxc3 and disturb whites qside pawn structure. Once that's accomplished ...0-0 and dropping the h pawn is probably not bad.

Here with ...0-0 first it seems White gets a tempo which allows the N to escape keeping the qside pawn structure intact. Not necessarily fatal but changes the dynamics a lot. A main thing in the Sveshnikov is that you don't want your opponent to have a passed pawn protected by another pawn. So pawn structure, usually white qside or black d,e, and f file, is important. Allowing a passed pawn is OK as the freedom of the pieces and usually some sort of counter play usually allows a round up at some point. But a passed pawn protected by another pawn might just be declared winning or at least just about eliminating the chances of losing.

Think it's possible Carlsen realized something went wrong by 23. Rac1, didn't adjust and started to wing it, maybe with a touch of desperation, after 24...Bxc6. Though thought Karjakin's Rc6 and a4 very crafty.

Sep-13-21  Gaito: After a surprising number of errors and oversights by both grandmasters, during which the engine's evaluation oscillated between +4.66 (on move 37) down to 0.00 (on move 42), the following position was reached with White to move:

click for larger view

Play continued with 42.Qf3 which could be assessed as unclear or equal. The engine's evaluation is 0.00, but in such cases the 0.00 evaluation by SF14 should be evaluated not as dead equal but rather as unclear, or that the engine has no idea of who stands better and who stands worse. After 42.Qf3, SF14 suggests 42...f5 and keeps giving the 0.00 evaluation (unclear), which may be a way for the engine to say: "I have no idea of what is going on here". The other engine (Lc0) suggests 42...Qc2+ 43.Kh3 f5 with an evaluation of +0.10 (equality). in the actual game there followed 42.Qf3 Qb4?? This move is considered a terrible blunder by both engines. Lc0 gives an evaluation of +3.72 whereas SF14 gives +7.76. The difference in the evaluation can be explained in that SF14 was running in a much faster and powerful hardware, and so could see much farther away than Lc0 which was running in a RTX 2080 GPU hardware. From the engine's numerical evaluation this move could be one of the worst blunders made by Carlsen in his entire career. Nevertheless it is by no means obvious that 42...Qb4 should be a losing blunder; on the contrary, it looks like a logical and reasonable move, putting Black's queen behind White's dangerous passers, preventing their immediate advance. Carlsen thought for only 44 seconds before making this move. According to the engine (SF14), after 42...Qb4?? White can win outright by means of 43.Qd5! but Karjakin overlooked that rejoinder and played instead 43.Kh3?? thereby relinquishing his advantage. The strength of the move 43.Qd5! lies in that from d5 White's queen controls the important squares d6 and e5 and also ties the enemy rook to the defense of the f7-square, so that Black is left almost in Zugzwang (BTW 43.Qf4 also accomplishes the same advantages, but Qd5 is stronger). Karjakin thought for only 22 seconds before playing his king to h3.

Sep-13-21  Gaito:

click for larger view


After Karjakin missed 43.Qd5, Magnus quickly played 43...Qd6? seizing control of the squares e5 and d6 (43...Qe1! was the correct move according to the engines, with approximate equality). Carlsen thought for only one minute and 10 seconds before playing 43...Qd6, and he probably believed that his queen was also preventing the advance of White's passed pawns. The engine tells us that such was not the case, as after 43...Qd6? White had a neat tactical opportunity that he missed, to wit: 44.b6!! and Black is busted (See diagram below):

click for larger view

"Passed pawns must be pushed".

Sep-13-21  DouglasGomes: <Gaito>
I don't know where you are getting Qf3
SF20210913: <-0.48 d40> 23. Qd3 Qe8 24. Nc3 Nd4 25. Be3 Bf5 26. Qd2 Bg6 27. Be2 Ba5...

Lc0 doesn't have a equivalent centipawn scale to SF, generally it gives much smaller numbers, so the evals are hardly comparable, other that Black is slightly better and the best move is 23. Qd3

Black's first idea is to put pressure on f-pawn or b-pawn, whatever the situation demands. White's plan is to defend: putting the queen on d3 controls the e4-pawn advance, allows the light-squared bishop to go back to f3 and to kick the rook out of a4 with b3, which otherwise puts the light square bishop out of game, as often Black is threatening the e5-e4-e3 advance. Black still has the more active pieces and can try doing other stuff.

If something like 24. a3?! Qb7 25. Rc2 b4..., then we eventually may reach a position where Black is quite active and White has weakness:

click for larger view

Transition to endgames would be quite difficult because positions like these are dead lost for White:

click for larger view

For analysis, I like to use SF because Lc0 is prone to blundering: 37... a4??

Sep-13-21  DouglasGomes: It makes no sense to say when Lc0 gives +0.10 it is equal, but SF's 0.00 is unclear, that is total nonsense, that is a fallacious interpretation that chess players give to engine output based in prejudices.

After 42. Qf3 Qc2+ 43. Kh3 (only move) f5, Black has either a mating net or perpetual construction.

44. c7 Rxc7 45. b6 Rxc4 46. Bxc4 Qxc4 is not enough for White

Sep-13-21  Albertan: This game has been analyzed by GM Déjan Bojkov at

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Can black just play 24...B-c5, blocking in the advanced white rook and getting his 'a' file Rook onto a better square? Sometimes I think Carlsen just plays these 30 minute games for fun, just to give his opponents a chance.

Here Karjakin gets to wet his whistle, thinking "Maybe I can get this game against MC in a world championship match!"

Sep-18-21  Ulhumbrus: After 17...Ne7 White's worst placed piece is his KB. This suggests 18 Be2.

The computer evaluations suggest that 24...Bxc6? loses most of Black's advantage and that 24...Bc5!! keeps it, This suggests paradoxically that if Black gains the exchange after eg Rxc5 Black's queen's bishop is more valuable to him than his king's bishop is valuable to him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Clement Fraud: I would imagine that this game - its course and conclusion - is the reason why M.C. did not attempt a Sicilian Defense versus Nepomniachtchi. Magnus is not given to defending the 1.e4 e5 lines, but has yet to discover an antidote to Black's positional difficulties (following the opening of the Queen-side files) in this Lasker-Pelikan variation.

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