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Magnus Carlsen vs Anish Giri
84th Tata Steel Masters (2022), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 2, Jan-16
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E06)  ·  1-0



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sac: 16.Rxc6 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-16-22  Lassannn: Looks like Giri stumbled into some world championship prep.
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  HeMateMe: black probably shouldn't take the Knight on a3. White gets a very fluid game after that.
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  Messiah: Terrible game by Giri, I guess his preparation was off, and he succumbed psychologically.
Jan-16-22  devere: An extraordinary game by Carlsen against a strong opponent. It seems to me that the World Champion has been inspired by AlphaZero to make positional sacrifices, and it has raised his game to a new level.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: The pained look on Giri's face said it all.

Carlsen got heavy payback for Giri winking at the camera after he beat Magnus at the World Blitz tourney.

Jan-16-22  AlicesKnight: The sacrifice at move 16 would just not occur to us ordinary mortals. Ten moves later Black (a P up from move 6) has lost 2 Ps and the rest are isolated. But before that, 7.Na3, allowing the B to take and cripple the Q-side pawns, seems a surprise (cf. Spassky vs Fischer, 1972 - 11. ... Nh5) - to see that the scope for the White QB matters much more takes some doing.
Jan-16-22  Sally Simpson: <'7.Na3, allowing the B to take and cripple the Q-side pawns, seems a surprise'>

It is a known book line, then it's 'normal' to play Ne5 and take the Bishop when it lands on c6 with the Knight.

With hindsight every move after the 'TN' 9.a4 instead of Ne5, freeing c1 with tempo (10. Ba3) one could almost see the next handful of White moves were gearing up for the exchange sac on c6.

In the now old mainline the e5 Knight swapped itself for the c6 Bishop. After the exchange sac it sat proudly on e5 controlling the game.

Best game of the year!

Jan-16-22  Ulhumbrus: After 14...Na4?! this knight on the rim will turn out to be particularly dim although this is so only because Carlsen plays well enough to show this and the way in which Carlsen takes advantage of the knight is not obvious at all.

The computer evaluations and the computer analysis suggests that the point of what can be called the brilliant exchange sacrifice 16 Rxc6!! is that because the knight on a4 is a target the black queen that defends it also becomes a target and so the black queen gets chased from one square to another until she finally runs out of squares from which to defend the knight on a4.

Thus on 17 Ne5 the black queen has to leave the square c6 but keep defending the knight. She goes to b5 by 17...Qb5 but after 18 Qc2! White is ready to continue to chase the queen eg after 18...Nd5? as played by Giri - by 19 Rb1.

After 19...Qa5 20 Bxd5 removes the defender of the square b4 and after 20...exd5 21 Rxb7 threatens to attack the black queen again by 22 Bb4 and now Black has no satisfactory defence left.

22...c5 prevents Bb4 but it also opens the seventh rank for White's rook on b7 and now 23 Qf5! starts a winning attack.

Some of all this begins to suggest that one can learn a thing or two from this game.

Jan-16-22  Albertan: Analysis of this game by GM Déjan Bojkov is at:

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  An Englishman: Good Evening: Did Carlsen say how much of the game consisted of leftover prep from the WC match? That remarkable Exchange sacrifice does not look like improvisation.
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  perfidious: Amish Girl's 'customer' exacts retribution yet again.
Jan-17-22  SChesshevsky: <...That remarkable Exchange sacrifice does not look like improvisation.>

Probably did run into examples when prepping for the WC. In combination with Carlsen's clear understanding of whites plusses in the Catalan, monster B on g2 and weak black c-file and potentially b7 or a8 targets, made the play look pretty easy.

Jan-17-22  Albertan: This game is analyzed by GM Nakamura in a video at:

Jan-17-22  Sally Simpson: Hi Ulhumbrus,

You are correct with highlighting the Knight on a4 as being misplaced and the cause for all the piece activity White obtained. But there is nothing wrong with it going there. 14 Nxa4 taking a pawn with a hit on the Queen is fine.

click for larger view

Then Giri should have pulled it back to b6. Though after 14...Nxa4 15.Qb3 Nb6 16.Rxc6 is still a good practical OTB move.

Jan-17-22  SChesshevsky: Never felt that comfortable vs. the Catalan. White always seemed to have a bit more and often would find some sort of trickery.

Found my best responses were going for an Open Catalan. Though that can get a bit wild for my taste. Thought better was getting in ...Bb4+ when the opportunity was there. Maybe not great but white does have to conceed arguably a misplaced N or B. Which often can reduce his tricks.

If going for a classical Closed Catalan the placement of Black's LSB, often on e4, is an important consideration. Though probably can't fault Giri here as the exchange sac was likely unexpected.

Jan-17-22  JohnBoy: Nice link, <cancho>. Giri dealing w black to move 20.
Jan-18-22  Jimmy720: Best game of the year so far
Jan-19-22  JohnCSimmons: It remains to be seen if 9a4 becomes new main line, or one off game because software suggests 15...Nb6 was better for black, the exchange sac no longer working.
Jan-19-22  Margetic D: Brillant game by Carlsen, no doubt at all. I am in agreement with 15...Nb6 looks quite well for black. Although i m not Catalan player at all (i only learned it in my past with a professional instructor, but never played in tournaments-only in blitz), i also dont think 9.a4 will be now the "new" main line.
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  fiercebadger: Its not often in the modern game , that we see a game where one player wins 3 times .. in the opening, middle game and the endgame !
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  ajk68: <AlicesKnight: The sacrifice at move 16 would just not occur to us ordinary mortals. Ten moves later Black (a P up from move 6) has lost 2 Ps and the rest are isolated.>

This is one of Carlsen's favorite ways to play. He loves destroying the enemy pawn structure and creating targets everywhere.

Apr-18-22  cormier: sf 14.1 NNUE


0.00 12... Bd5 13. Rfe1 a5 14. Rcd1 Nb6 15. Ne5 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Nfd5 17. Nxc4 Nf4+ 18. gxf4 Qd5+ 19. e4 Qxc4 20. Rc1 Qxd4 21. Re3 Red8 22. Bb2 Qd2 23. Rg3 g6 24. Rb3 Qxf4 25. Qc3 Qxe4+ 26. f3 Qe2+ 27. Kg3 e5 28. Rc2 Qd1 29. Qxe5 Qd6 30. Qxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxc7 Nxa4 32. Rbxb7 Nxb2 33. Rxf7 Nd3 34. Rg7+ Kh8 35. Rxh7+ Kg8 36. Rbg7+ Kf8

Apr-18-22  cormier: sf 14.1 NNUE


0.00 12. Rfe1 a5 13. Qxc4 Nb6 14. Qd3 Be4 15. Qb5 h6 16. Rac1 Qd5 17. Qb3 Qd7 18. Ne5 Qxd4 19. Bb2 Qb4 20. Ba3

Nov-23-22  Chesschronicle22: The bishop on g2 is supposed to be the 'catalan bishop' a deadly bishop with a menacing x-ray, and the dark squared bishop is just suicidal. but Magnus changed it by using the black squared bishop on a3! Literally a new meta :O

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