15 Dec 2009


B76 Yugoslav

and after 20.Bd3:

Is 21.Qd2 a gift or am I seeing it wrong?

Now White will have to contend himself with g4 rather than g3, limiting his kingside chain options. Still, it does look balanced.

After Re8 and Qf2 the Knight on =e3= has become the center of a real struggle. Will Black push his f-pawn into the mêlée?

White prevents that and takes up the =f4= square himself. Wise decision? Not so sure.

All I can say is that I hope Nakamura is in good form today, as this game looks like it is heading for yet another draw.

That errant black Knight is not going to deliver for Carlsen, however much it is giving the white Queen the run around.

I am reluctant to say this but it seems that this particular White is able to read Carlsen's thoughts before he has time to formulate them. The f5-f4 plan was elegantly thwarted and on the queenside Black isn't allowed to make much progress either.

Let's hear it for Nakamura!

The imminent Rook swap may weaken White a little bit, but not enough to strengthen Black. As long as White takes his King to =e3= rather than =e1=, White has little to fear, for the time being at least.

Ah....White balked at the Rook Xchange and offered 29.h3, which means it is up to Carlsen to initiate it, or not, as the case may be. I am not taking anything for granted now.

I think the kingside majority for black is probably a little more important than the queenside majority for White.
Still, Black's officers are awfully close to the enemy camp as well as in the center, so they can jump wherever required.

Is it going to be an a- or an h-move for White? I'm glad it's not up to me to decide.
Neither of course.What was I thinking.

All the threes: 33.c3 surely with Qd3 to follow.And then g4

At the moment I like Carlsen's prospects better.White may soon run out of moves.

Hurrah! Carlsen has gone for the audacious 35...Ne2+ line. The other choice will be incorported in this line (h5, Kf8), it just means that White's King is pushed into a corner and that Black's Knight is temporarily on the sidelines.

Nakamura's 19th move has put the cat amongst the pigeons: Carlsen will now have to go for a win at all cost.

Still, when they rech the 40 move mark, there is no life left in this game, nor a chance for either side to make a false move, so the end is nigh for Calsen's dream of more glory this week. I am sure Kramnik is going to walk away with the prize.

Although...still a spark left:
after 41.f5 h4 42.Bg2 Nf4 43.f6 ..
Naaaah. Not working. That Knight hasn't worked for his keep, I don't think.

Talking of walking,
Oh yes, we were,
I'm out of here.

Back after three miles round a sodden landscape.

All is well: Kramnik missed Bh5 on move 20 and they are halfway through a rep draw sequence, so Carlsen can be satisfied with this draw that is looming.

Although, White blooped on move 48.c4, rather than something like Be4 or Bf1. Probably suffering from terminal boredom. So now it is finally curtains and Carlson is King. Not a very convincing win, but persistence is rewarded.

Oh no, he isn't:
This game ended in a draw afterall but all is well on the Carlsen front:
A draw was suffcient to keep the 1 point lead over Kramnik in place, and Carlsen walks away with top honours - just.

Well done both of the top players and well done to all eight of them for giving us a ray of light in the bleak midwinter.

Thank you to London for organizing this splendid event.
Hope it will be repeated in years to come.

I won't bother to put up today's game, because, let's face it, there isn't much hope for this line.
Neither player went wrong and it ended in a draw.
That black Knight didn't do much good as far as I can see it.
Somebody put me right.


Adams wavered, missed his chance.
Carlsen was lucky.

Move 25... was the crux

Play through three versions of their LONDON CLASSIC ROUND6 GAME

1. As it should have been
2. As it could have been
3. As it sadly was.

Comments and observations made during the live game in previous post.

14 Dec 2009


Penultimate round 6.
It will take a lot to unseat Carlsen from the top spot now:
Two wins for Kramnik and two draws or less for Carlsen.
With the opponents to come, that is a little unlikely.
However, Michael Adams should never be underestimated.

E46 Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein


11.....c5 leading to exchanges, except when Carlsen is White, when we can expect something unusual: 12.g4 first, if he goes for the exchange at all, which now could expose his pawn on =e3.
12...h6, No hurry to reposition the Knight on =g6=, as it is unlikely that Carlsen will push the g-pawn even further at this stage, which would leave the kingside weak. Besides, there is no attractive spot for this Knight to go to at the minute and h6 gives this Knight a bolt-hole should the white g-pawn start marching.

Compare this to the board after 6.a3 rather than the rare choice of the text: 6.cxd5:

It works out the same.

14.Ng3 again one of those Carlsen moves that I cannot understand until a few moves afterwards. Unless he wants the other Knight on =e2= and then do his "Ring around the Rosie" trick again.


They have each used half an hour.

15.f4 could lead to Nc7 16.g5 Nh7 17.h4 Qd7 18.Nh5 g6 19.Nf6+ NxN 20.gxN Qe6

What a smooth climbing sequence that would be fun. We shall see.
Maybe 18.Nh5 is pushing it: 18.gxh6 g6 would justify the white Knight on =g3= at move 14.

84 vs 76 mins left. That's good going, compared to Carlsen's round 5 game.

Oh well, different tack: Adams leaves his Knight on the rim and moves the Rook instead.

Now, after 16.g5, where is that Knight going to go: =h7= or =e4=?

Adams is /used to be renowned for never doing any prep. Is that what he is doing now? Xtra long think here by Black.
72 vs 48 mins left

They've ripped the heart out of the game: now only a shell left.


19.Qg4 g6? Now?? Is that wise??

Black must think that beating White to the =g6= square is a good move. I don't agree. Not at all I don't. I so wanted Adams to take d4. Let White have the =g6= square: no worries then.

Actually: the engine agrees with Adams. Sorry Sir. Didn't mean it.

Now the kingside looks congested and White might as well start nibbling at the queenside with b4 or some such move. Or is the exchange on =e4= still better?

They are totally equal now, as long as Adams plays 22...Rc2
Let White take that dim rim Knight. No matter.

Adams surely must go for the rep draw
. What on earth does he expect?? To win this??

Finally. Thank goodness: he goes for Rc2.
Can Carlsen wriggle out of it? Don't think so. Not without serious loss.
Still. Carlsen tempts him with Qf3, rather than Qg4, but the advantage for Black is not enough to make him stray from the rep line.

Besides, Adams is rather laid back and usually chooses the easy way out.

Quite a psychological battle going on here with those innocent looking moves.

This is an absolutely delicious moment in the London Classic. This alone was worth staging it for.
What am I saying: the best moment in the past few years of chess.

Adams eschews ( I love that word) 25...dxe3, the possibly rich vein, but doesn't go for the basic drawing line either: 25..Bf8

So what have we here now? 25...Bc5 eliciting 26.Qf4 again or 26.Re2

Too rich for my blood. I'm going to sit back and wait and see.

Adams is being bamboozled and falls between two stools. Oh what a pity.

After 28.Rf2, Adams can no longer draw nor is dxe3 worth anything any longer.

But... Carlsen misses 28.Rf2 and prolongs the agony by going Qf4, again tempting Adams to go for a win. As if....
But as usual, Adams doesn't stick to his plan.

I give up.


The game continued with Adams being pressed for time around the 40-moves and finally ending in a drawn out draw.
Elegant chance missed in my view, but at least Adams didn't lose the plot and give Carlsen an undeserved win by fluffing it.

Now the 'Spitzenreiter' has a job to do today: he must win or hope that Kramnik doesn't. They are both black today, but Kramnik has the tougher opponent. Still, one never knows.

Game board to play through with all the variations, will be here in 30 minutes.

13 Dec 2009


In a tense Time portal struggle after an unusual midgame turn-around, Carlsen pushes Hua one step too far and gains yet another win.

Play through game.
Observations during the live game in post below.


Round 5 and Magnus as Black, comes up against Ni Hua this afternoon.

B51 Moscow Variation without 3...Bd7

Off with his head!
White can't do much else. Black hasn't lost any time with this manoeuver, but even if he had: time is never of the essence with Carlsen.

White delays castling, and swaps on =c5= instead.


White places his DSB on =f4=. Two games in my base, both draws from 2004. Never heard of the players.

Hoping for 9...Ng6

Carlsen is thinking so much in this tournament. Kramnik is already on move 20, in an interesting Petroff against Howell.

Hua answers with 10.Qh5 (N?)and things look good for White. On its way to a Queen swap?
Probably best for Black at the moment. Carlsen seems to be hoisted by his own petard: he is now the one thinking after unexpected moves from his opponent.
Don't know if the black Knight on =h4= would be particularly helpful to black, so he would come out of this Queen exchange with nothing to show for it. Tough decisison.

I was wondering about 10...Bc6, which after the Knight swap, would force White to make the first move towards a Queen swap and lose half a tempo. No?

Yoohooh, Magnus, are you awake? This is getting really scary: he's 30 mins behind on the clock now. I have never seen him do that before.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Kramnik is teaching Howell a lesson he will never forget.

There is something seriously wrong with Magnus: he has spent almost 40 minutes on that move now. So unlike him that I am getting worried.

Somebody spiked his orange juice?

Finally. And he listened to me and played 10..Bc6. didn't take me 50 minutes though. What else has he cooked up in this line, which after all he was the one to choose by ignoring 3...Bd7.

Leading to castling long for White?

This is simply not a line where White can go wrong. No cliffhangers. Everything is straightforward now and slides heavily into a draw. What is Carlsen expecting? Can't see it at all.

82 mins vs 56 mins.

They have played five moves while I walked two miles.

43 vs 33 mins

Can't see the point of 20.Rd2 without the Bishop being up there to help the Rook attack. e5 would block his path to c7, although that Bishop would probably have to retreat if the attack isn't carried out immediately.

White took his eye off the ball by considering a half-baked Rook assault, which could never have come off. Upshot: Carlsen has a foot in the door and elicits the Rook exchanges.

White's King might have been safer 0n =e2=.

Hua is getting just a bit rattled now.
He does play Ke2, but now it is costly. White can now play b4 and really push the queenside hard, and after the pawn swap. Na2 won't help much.
He plays Nd1 instead.
Not much better.

10 mins vs 5 mins.
Turn-up for the books!

Moves aren't coming through. i want to know if Carlsen moved his King or his Queen.
Hurry up folks.

Bother. He moved his Bishop before putting the King safe.
35.b3 ???? What about Qd2?

With seconds to spare, Hua goes wrong.

40.Qc8 Kh7

The rot set in with 35.b3, but it was compounded by 39.Qc2 rather than 39.Kc1.

It seems that yet again Carlsen reached his objective and the latest version of his Python method proved successful.

Phew. I am totally worn out.

Surely Hua will resign.


Play through the game.
Notes taken during the live game are in the previous post below.

12 Dec 2009


The objective around London seems to be:

Today it is the turn of the US champion from Hawai Hikaru Nakamura.
Have they met? Dunno. Blitz doesn't count.

Carlsen seems to be lucky in draws for White or Black and seems to have more than his fair share of Whites.

D17, Slav it is

Played 250 times in my database. Set Black thinking. 9 mins used up already.
Kasparov played it three times: drew against Tal and Hübner, beat Timman. All replied 6...Bc8, 7.e3 *, as does Nakamura after 10 mins.
So far things continue as in Garry's games against Tal and Hübner.

By retracting move 5...Bf5, and playing 6..Bc8, the LSB frees Black's KS pawns. Not nice to have to 'redo' a move so quickly. White's Knight has to do something else as hanging about on =h4= will not remain productive. Tempo gained? Not sure. Time gained? Definitely. Fits in with Carlsen's throttling technique. Nice One!!

White used 5 mins, Black 23 mins.

This could easily become a 17 move draw, as in Kasparov vs Hübner, unless the new coach has dreamt up a new variation. We can only hope.

10...O-O 11.Re1 was the Hübner game
. Is Carlsen going to deviate?
Bg5, Nf3 and a5 are contenders.

It seems that Carlsen wants to have his Knight keep watch over the LSB-diagonal for a while longer.

11.Re1 *
Oh dear. I feel a draw coming on.

By transposition we are back to Kasparov - Tal, 1988 World Cup, draw in 42 moves.

With move 12.Nf3, Carlsen has called off the dogs, and Black's LSB can now come out and play. Just in time, as he is sorely needed to guard the -d5- square.

13.Qb3 rates a generous half pawn up on Junior 11. Will he play it?
Time has evened out and they both have about 90 mins left.
He does play it and Na6 is the most likely continuation.

It is now turning into a scrap for the possession of the =d5= square. I hope White won't be distracted by the need to grab b7. As soon as the black Knight has gone to =a6, it will have designs on =c7=, also targeting =d5=, so if White wants it, the time is now.
13...Na6 played. 80 mins vs 66 mins.

14.Bd2 shows highest on the engine. Played by Arkell in 1999, vs Gormally in a 15-move draw. Let's hope Carlsen doesn't go there.
Remember those 3 points for a win!!

Good grief! He does. I hope he is not going to start thinking like a machine now. Is all that high-class coaching costing us his intuitive play? Heaven forbid.

So Carlsen wants to keep his options open and allow Black to hang himself.
We seem to have left the drawing line.

15...Bf5 was not the highest rated move, but when I give it to Junior, he says "Yes please", and puts it top. Fickle engine! Black has moved that LSB yet again, now that White has called off one of the defenders of =d5=.

We are out of base now, although I am not sure which move is the Novelty.

Carlsen foregoes the Xchange on =b4= and places his Knight on =e5=. Pity. I would have liked a bit of a clear-out.

Leading to

Back to reality:

16...a5: Black gets his blow in first. Would have been a nice square for White as well. 17.Nc5 -- I must confess to being a little bit lost here. Unless he was afraid of the fork on Nc2 and wanted to be able to mount a counter-attack on =b7=.
Ah, this is looking pretty.

60 mins vs 25 mins

I thought Black might have wanted a stake in the e-file, but he played Qc7 instead.
Well, what do I know.

Black has 20 mins for 20 moves left.

I turn my back for a minute, to fetch some highly needed vittles, and Carlsen plays 20.Qf3??? What for may I ask?. What was wrong with a Rook move here? 20.Rac1 would have done nicely.
I know time is drawing near for Black ( a move a minute required), but isn't it a little early to start throwing spanners in the wheel?

They are both accomplished Blitz players. Though I never rate that highly as a discipline, it does come in handy in normal games. Still, Carlsen knows that this opponent is not going to be phased by shortage of time. Seems strange that he would still risk iffy moves rather than play safe ones.

Kramnik (W) and Adams drew, the others are still playing.

17 vs 5 mins

Black's Knight on =d5= has been a lynch-pin throughout. Clever chap.
Told you Carlsen should have dislodged it when he had the chance on move 13, where again he played Qb3. What is his obsession with placing the Queen there?

Now White has run out of bamboozling tricks: Nakamura is not getting hassled and Carlsen has used up his reserves.
Actually, on reflection, I don't think there was a win there at any stage. It was a well constructed and executed game from both of them.

35.Kg1 is prophylactic and gets out of the way of the Queen should she get a chance to go to =d5= after the white Knight moves.

Well done Nakamura: Carlsen is now in the red as his plan misfired.
I reckon it went pearshaped for Carlsen on move 20.Qf3 rather than getting the a-Rook into action. At the same time Black started to get better and better.

I am off to do better things,as I can't see much beyond a perpetual now.