9 Dec 2009



A game in which they were playing all the right moves, but not necessarily in the right order :-)

E94 Classical King's Indian

Daring move from McShane, seeing that Carlsen's coach was rather partial to this opening. Wonder what they have cooked up lately.

After 9.Bf1 McShane is having a little think.

1.55 vs 1.45

8...Qe8 shrewd move: getting out of the way in case White wants to put his DSB on -g5- or starts exchanges on -e5-. Played at least 100 times.

Lots of options now, but 9...Bg4 was played most often. A little late to start making up novelties now for Black. Things ought to be slick at this stage. 9.Bf1 can hardly have been a surprise.

9...c6?! well, if it doesn't work, at least he played a Novelty. Or is it?
I found three games. One of them being our hero himself: Carlsen vs Tjomsland 2002, 1-0. in Gausdale Norway. He did not play 10.h3, but 10.d5. Today he goes for 10.Rb1.

White now plays 12.Be2

Now Carlsen has his DSB where he wants him. Did McShane anticipate this course of events when he played Qe8 so early on?

It is a real treat to have two such intuitive players opposing each other. The natural style of McShane matches Carlsen's.

Eschewing 19...g5 and the exchange on -b4-, Black opts for 19.Rfc8


Carlsen did his usual 'Ring around the Rosie' move with his Knight, which now finally reaches -e3, and then McShane, with plenty of time on the clock, makes a hasty move.
Why the hurry?

I take it all back: McShane has led Carlsen into an impetuous groove.
21.bxc5 was a little shaky, giving Black carte blanche with his Rooks. Better might have been 21.Nc3 cxb4 22.axb4 Qf8 ??? Howzthat?

But after:

Things look much rosier for Black.

Still, White's Knight, poised in the center, can quickly go queenside to -b4- probably, restricting the mobility of the Rooks on the c-file.

Oh, what an interesting game these two are giving us.

78 mins vs 57 mins

At the minute Luke McShane is in the ascendance over the World Numero Uno.
Holding more than his own as Black. Not a bad thing. Hope it lasts the game out.
My loyalties are totally divided.

I saw Luke McShane play when he was four years old. You read right.
This was in the old London Chess center club in Clapham. He was playing against his uncle I believe and I was just starting out and was there to buy some basic chess books. I could not believe my eyes. This image has stayed with me all these years. What he has achieved in the same number of years compared to me, is phenomenal. And he still had to go to school, learn to ride a bike, drive a car, go to Oxford University, work in the City and whatever else. Amazing.

Of course the same holds good for his opponent. But then, I never saw Carlsen as a child, so the impact is different.

McShane is using up an awful lot of time. Is he not acquainted with Carlsen's 'throttle them with time pressure' technique? Surely that is common knowledge by now.

65 mins vs 21 mins.

27.h3 Bf6, on its way to -g5. White will now try to connect his Rooks and shove the Queen forward. A Rook exchange will give some much needed space. Still, Black has the edge, as they say ad nauseam.

I feel dat the exchange on =e4= should have been instigated 3 moves earlier, instead of 26...R5c7, which lost a tempo. With still 14 pieces on the board, a tempo is important. I believe that may cost Luke the match or the draw at least.
Still one of my favourites wins, whatever the outcome, which is nice for a change.

54 vs 15 mins with ten moves to play. Tight. Particularly when you take into account that Carlsen will now sacrifice safety moves and play challenging ones.

Move 30 was were Black lost this game: 30.fxe4 almost anything is better than ...Nf7.
Bf4, Rc3, Qf4, bxa5, you name it, it was good. What a shame.

After move 41:

Black is certainly behind in the evaluation, but still could try Rxb6, intending Nxb6 Qc7 and after Na4 Qc4 or Rxb5. Or he could put his Knight on Nd7, when after 42.Ba7 Ra8 43.b6 is possible.


After being pummeled for six hours, Luke McShane must feel totally done in.
Subtle strategy for the first five hours and pure brinkmanship for the remainder of this match.
Pheeeewwww. I am tired as well.

Many mistakes, or rather less than optimum moves, but with Carlsen towards the time portals, you never know if these are deliberate or not. His pythonic pressure technique is hard to withstand, especially for somebody like Luke, who hasn't undergone this method before.

Thank you to both players for a very entertaining game this afternoon.

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