31 Jan 2010

Carlsen wins CORUS 2010

So Magnus Carlsen has pulled it off yet again.
Today a little too close for comfort, but what an entertaining two weeks he has given us.

Pity we won't get to see him in Linares this year. I wonder when we can enjoy his magic again.

This tournament he seems to have matched the playing style of each different opponent. He seems to have settled old scores and refined openings that hadn't worked out so well before. I liked the fact that so many of these confrontations were continuations of what had gone before. Often with the most wonderful improvements in style and finesse.

Maybe Carlsen hasn't quite developed his own playing style yet, but this mix-and-match is good enough for me as a viewer.
Besides, the overal technique of making his opponents pay for being tardy, is in itself a very refreshing tactic.

It was a treat.

Shock horror defeat for Carlsen?

Not quite!

From an almost lost position, Carlsen managed to extract a draw after a virtual masterclass in a Knights endgame from both players.

Notes as the endgame drama unfolded and play-through game at the end of this post.
Notes on the first 40 moves in previous post.

I can't see him draw now, let alone win.

Caruana seemed totally not in awe of his illustrious opponent today.

Carlsen was playing games with him, and seems to be losing.
Time may have been of the essence for Caruana, but he slipped through the net and delivered the killing move on move 40.

Material is equal: 4 Pawns and a Knight each, but the advance from Black is telling.
What Rybka calls: "The upper hand". (-1.44 and -1.8 on Junior.)

Is there still a draw to be had? And why was Carlsen skating on such thin ice today?

A draw would be good enough for the overal win. Else it is a three-way top shared with Shirov and Kramnik.

Whatever, they are still playing.

leading to:

Are we watching a Master class in a Knight endgame?

I've been a great Carlsen fan for a number of years now, but even so, I hope that Caruana will not lose his cool and blunder.

Rybka is already calling it even (-0.17), but doesn't consider move 47...Kf4

ah, he does now, on 25 ply, but still calls it evens.
I am getting -1.03 from Junior.

49 vs 31 mins

======= Beginning of this game, up to move 40 , in previous post. ======

It is a cruel game at times.
This is the last thing the organizers were hoping for. Everybody anxious to catch planes and trains.

48...g5, h3+ or Nb2?
I'm voting for g5

Caruana chooses 48...Nb2
and now Carlsen has his draw.

Don't know whether to laugh or cry.

CORUS 2010 round 13

Today Carlsen plays White against Caruana.

If he wins today, he will have won the tournament outright.
If he draws, there are two mathematically possible sharers.

C77 It's a RUY LOPEZ again. But which one? Not an Open Spanish, his opponent's favourite. Not the one he played against Nakamura.

Does this mean Carlsen is aiming for a (quick) draw?


First played by J.H.Blackburne vs Ossip Bern in St. Peterburgh in 1914 draw 35 moves. Smyslov and Bronstein also liked this 9.Bg5

Caruana seems puzzled and has used up 17% of his allotted time already.
He could have annoyed both white Bishops, but pushes his d-pawn instead. Most players in my database played 9...h6.


White will probably bring out his other Knight now, rather than start fiddling on =d5=.
Waiting move, 10.Qe2 instead.
The others are all on move 15 at least.
83 vs 74 mins


I can't see where White is going with these moves.
Except keeping his options open until Black shows his hand.

leading to

Even after two tempo boosters ( being White and not castling), I can't see White having so much as an edge at the minute.

16....Rad8 17.Qf3 ? Queen? I thought it was Knight.


I have no 'feel' for this game. Don't see where he is going ( apart from going home) or what he is up to.

26 vs 8 mins

If he's not careful he won't even draw.

Caruana has 7 mins for 8 moves. Quite feasible unless Carlsen throws him a curve ball.

White'Rook has never been anyplace. Hasn't éven castled.
Surely he's got to take it to =c1= smartish.
That kingside pawn chain is locked and there seems little chance of kingside action, so the Rook might as well move away from there and at least get rid of both Rooks.

He does. Good.
Now what?

There is not enough leeway for Carlsen to cause Caruana grief in time trouble.
It looks pretty scary.

With 2 seconds to spare, Caruana comes through smelling of roses.

If Black gives us 40...Kf6, Carlsen will have been taught a lesson: not everybody is afraid of his python technique.

AND HE'S DONE IT!! Caruana up +2.00 or rather Carlsen down -2.00

I have to say, they both deserved what they got.

First Andy Murray, and now Carlsen.
It hasn't been my day.

30 Jan 2010

Carlsen draws, Kramnik loses.

What more can a Carlsen fan hope for.
Leader of the pack tonight.

At least Anand on move 40, has a decisive advantage +3.83.
Surely a reigning world champion won't allow that to go pearshaped.

He's supposed to play Qe3< now, after Kramnik missed a chance to improve his position somewhat on move 40.

Let's hope Anand plays 45.Bf3 and then Kramnik will surely throw in the towel finally.

Thank you Anand.

CORUS 2010 round 12

Today Carlsen is Black against Leko.

They have embarked on a Sicilian Najdorf.

Recent confrontations have been in a Sveshnikov and a Breyer Ruy a few years back.
And of course playing the same game until move 12....0-0 in HERE in Tal round 9 two months ago.

I thought it looked familiar.
That game first looked like a fast draw, with both players wanting to get out, but then turned into an interesting battle though still ending in a draw.
There Carlsen left out the 0-0 and played Nc6 a move earlier. The result is virtually identical by move 13, apart from White's LSB being on a different square on the e1-a6 diagonal.

In that game Carlsen didn't castle until move 21...*

The Najdorf is a consequence of Carlsen's collaboration with Kasparov.


Carlsen's 12...0-0 rather than 12....Nc6, has set Leko thinking, after a swift start.

16.e5 may give Carlsen tripled pawns on the e-file???
That's going a bit too far in my book.

And yes, that's what we have by move 18, until White swipes one of them


He might have been wiser to leave them there and go 19.h4 or something instead.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Leko is doing Carlsen's work for him.

If White now were to play 21.Nxd5, then he would have cleared up Black's doubled pawns as well. Mind you, then Black would have three pawn islands versus White's two. Not so brill.

This is going to take some thinking out for White.

He does swap Knights on =d5=, and then they simplify further until it looks like an imminent draw.

Unless Leko now mistakenly pushes a pawn, they are perfectly level.
Leko has 40 mins for 18 moves, so time isn't of the essence. Can't see any hope of a positive outcome for either side.

Oops. I thought I told him not to!

Now 23...e6 is on the cards, with a kingside gallop from Black.

Oh well, what do I know. 23...gxh4 24.
Maybe Carlsen wants to get his Rook on =f2= and reduce even further before he advances.

Anyway, they trundle into the clear draw.

Good news for Carlsen fans

It looks like Kramnik is being defeated by Anand.
This means Carlsen will be leader of the pack tonight
with 8 points over 7.5 for Shirov and Kramnik.

I am not sorry. I was annoyed about the barbed remarks Kramnik has been making
about both Anand and Carlsen lately. He is no longer in my good books.

Carlsen versus Dominguez Corus 2010 round 11

Carlsen versus Dominguez

Play through commented game.

(Comments as the game unfolded in previous post)

29 Jan 2010

CORUS round 11

Today Carlsen is White against Dominguez who is one full point behind him.

The other two top leaders, Kramnik and Shirov are playing each other
with Shirov being white.


D97 Grunfeld, Russian

with a new twist from White on move 10, where Be3 or h4 were mostly played.
He can of course still play Be3 successfully, after a Knight move from Black.

Ah, he just did.
10...Nb6, 11. Be3

Black may not be bothered by White's -e4-, as one feature of this Defence is that Black allows a strong white pawn centre, so that he can attack it, but is Black happy with an early -e5- and even an early -e6-?

Black seems to be developing quickly and his LSB may now go to =g4= which will elicit -f3-.

Dominguez has been thinking for an awful long time and has used up a whole hour according to the clock, which can't be right as their combined time used is less than that.
This is getting tedious and if they don't get a move on, I'll be out of here.
My boredom threshold is a lot lower than Carlsen's.

Shirov and Kramnik are already on move 23.

Finally. After this long think, Black only goes as far as Bf5 and my engine pats him on the back for that. Funny, how engines often totally ignore a move, and then when you give it them, they say "Thanks ever so much".

I am so hoping for 13.e6, mainly because it seems utterly audacious.
With the white Queen bearing down on =f7=, I think it looks wild.

leading to

These two are testing each other and providing an interesting, if somewhat slow, game.

leading to

5...f6 turned this position into a bit of a hornets' nest.
I shan't have the presumption to predict the next few moves...

ah...Carlsen has taken the sting out of it, pardon the pun.
playing 16.Nf3, rather than putting that Knight on =e4=.

With this safety valve, Black might push his Rook up to Rf7, which would allow White to really get a huge center front going with 17.d5
However, then Black's Knights are spoilt for choice on what to take.

but we still get a good clear out although Black might have done better to play 17...Nd5 rather than 17...fxe5

19.Qc5 Rc8 with e4 to look forward too surely.

60 mins vs 28 mins

35 vs 18 mins after move 22, so the gap is closing, but still 18 moves to go and Carlsen keeps up the pressure.


Well done White.

27 Jan 2010

CORUS round 10

After yesterday's shock defeat, Carlsen
is playing Black against Karjakin,
another young pretender to the WaZ crown.

I very much wish Carlsen would go back to his old intuitive playing style:
he is thinking too hard and too long. Running out of time is something new and worrying.

C11 French Classical


Kamsky vs Morozevich drew in Amsterdam in 1996
Kamsky played 11.Nd1, others went for 11.dxc5 or 11.Rae1

Karjakin chooses 11.Kh1, like De Firmian vs Olsson Stockholm 1996, 1-0 and
Nijboer vs Gurevich Amsterdam 2000, 0-1

Carlsen's reply differs:

leading to:

leads to:

22.Rg1 was a bit costly

35 mins each

Bar the odd blunder, this game seems to be in the bag for MaCa.

He removes all superfluous pieces from the board to simplify the ending.


And now moves down on the kingside.

I have to own up and disclose that I have no great affection for the French (opening that is). All this fuss about which way to go: Simplification, Cramping pawn chain or Keeping the tension: it all adds up to very little in the end.
I never get the feeling that there is a real struggle going on at any time in a French game.

Compare that to yesterday's Open Catalan, where every move unveiled drama and danger. It was like a hike on a craggy mountain range, with a precipice on either side. One false move and your off.
In spite of that, it can end in a draw. Yesterday's time portal blunder didn't detract from the magnificence of that game.
In fact, in such a game, the outcome is neither here nor there. The players gave such a stirring performance and the coup de grace wasn't so much a win for Kramnik, but rather a loss for Carlsen, leaving the game itself to stand out.

It may take two to tango, but it's the tango that counts.

And today it isn't a tango. Not by a long chalk. Nothing but a very slow and rather dreary foxtrot.

Now it remains for Black to get the Bishops off the board and Bob's your uncle.

Anand seems to be beating Shirov to the full point, and Kramnik is hovering around freezing point against Ivanchuk. Mind you, ivanchuk, never one of the swiftest of players, could end up in time trouble, with 29 vs 12 mins for 17 moves. Kramnik is better placed regards time.

Still...things are looking up for MaCa

I wish he would play his move 40..., but i guess the servers are down as he wouldn't risk defeat for a cup of coffee and a loo break.

40.Kg2 Bd7 41.Nf3+ Kf6
42.Bb3 g4 43.Nd4 Ke5
44.Bc2 a5 45.Bd1 Ke4

and it is a point for Carlsen.

So Kramnik goes top at 7 pts, Shirov stays at 6.5 (Anand is said to 'have the upper hand' and with a bit of luck pulls off the win), and Carlsen joins him there.

26 Jan 2010

CORUS round 9


The big event of the tournament.
These two superstars met in the first round of the LONDON CLASSIC last month because of the vagaries of the draw, and that meant the rest was a bit of an anti-climax.

This time they meet when they already share second place.
I hope their game today will befit this clash of the Titans.

1.d4, bypassing the pesky Petroff.

Kramnik played this against Bareev in 2005 Monte Carlo, but then got 7.0-0, draw in 36 moves.

They are on their own as far as I know.

Such a confusing opening, as you never know what it resembles until later:
QGD/QGA/Reti/QP or whatever.
The distinguishing feature is White's d4 plus g3; which is what we have today.

Black needs to play c6/c5 and attack the centre. Which he has just done.


Carlsen played his Queen to =b3= rather than =d3= and Kramnik pushed his b-pawn all the way to =b5= rather than =b6= and takes his LSB one further than I expected, to=a6= rather than =b7=.
What do I know.

Correct me if I am wrong.
I seem to have noticed time and again, with any player in any game, that the reply is often not directed at the actual move made, but at the move expected.

Here Kramnik might have expected 12.Qc2, to which the reply 12...Nbd7 would have been logical.

Instead, Carlsen played 12.Bg5, to which there was the reply 12...b4.

Is it a case of reluctance to change one's mind? Or an oversight with hasty play?

Or am I totally barking up the wrong tree?

I would be really interested in hearing pertinent views on this.



Without the exchange on =f6=, White might have pushe the exchanged on =e4= instead after Ne4.
Better? Worse? Same?


21...Ne5? What was wrong with quietly pushing the -h-pawn?
Why give White the chance to attack?
Ah, I can see now. Well done Kramnik.It was daring to allow the ennemy to set foot in the black camp, but really the white LSB can't do any real harm there, inspite of having the Queen behind it. It merely losses White a tempo, which by move 21 may not mean much, but still.

If White can take on =e5= with check and then move to =g4= and check, things look rosy enough for him.
27.Qe4, so far, so good.

Now waiting for Qg4+
But..Kramnik finds the perfect move to upset my plan:
By centralizing his Rook on the back rank he takes the sting out of the attack.

Black, a pawn down, but with the Bishop pair, 2 active Rooks and his queenside advanced, looks good to me now.

What pieces can White exchange to make his extra pawn count?

15 mins vs 27

I can't see anything except a draw, but would not be surprised if Kramnik refused.

He played 29.Be4, when I would have preferred to see

29.Re1 d3 30.Bxd3 c4 31.Bh7 Qc7 32.Rad1

What do I know.

leading to

Black's Queenside looks formidable. That one extra pawn isn't going to do it for White unless he can pull a kingside pawn storm out of the hat. Very unlikely.

Shirov and Ivanchuk just drew, making the outcome of this game even more importan for a top place on the leaderboard.

Getting rid of the Rook on =c6= and then moving the Queen to the h-file might be one way for White to tip the scales. Or at least provide a number of neutral moves to get to move 40.

I think 'knife edge' has never been a more accurate description of a game posisiton.

No. I just checked my line on the engine and it is not sound. Maybe BxR BxB and then the Queen to =f4=. Still, not nice for White.

I need some tea.
Back soon.

Good grief. I turn my back for a minute and Carlsen goes down.
I am quite shocked by Carlsen's unnecessary defeat when a draw was right there.
The move 35.Nb6 was his undoing and then he compounded the error with the mysterious 36.Qf4, which needed to be played earlier.
Almost as if he was suffering from a dyslexia attack, if there is such a thing.


Kramnik and Shirov tie for top.

25 Jan 2010


Also called SVESHNIKOV

Played by Carlsen against Shirov in round 8.

Notes on the game whilst it was being played are in the previous post.
And by the way: it wouldn't hurt if at least one or two readers of the many that are trawling by, would leave a comment and say hello.

24 Jan 2010

CORUS round 8

A decisive game coming up. If not the decisive game.
Today it is Shirov who faces Number one.
How will he fare?
He's lucky to be White in this encounter.


Great! Let's hope they feel in belligerent mood.


The modern main line with 10...Bg7

13.c4 puts pressure on =b5=, which is nice, but at the same time weakens White on the long diagonal. This makes Black's 13...f5 an obvious reply.
White could have played 13.c3 or the more normal one 13.0-0.

Black can't defend =d5= and =f5= with pawns.
Kramnik played 13...f5 against Svidler in Tilburg in 1997, drawn in 26 moves.

They are going like a run-away train.
And I wonder if Carlsen isn't being taken for a ride again....
Maybe not, as they are still following along the line of their game in Sofia last year.
When will they deviate?

Shirov has deviated from Svidler's line and chosen the more aggressive 15.Qh5, rather than 15.Qf3, and Carlsen has gone equally forceful with 15...Rb8 (he could have chosen 15...Qb7 as in Markov - Shipkov in 1987)

23.Qh3 is throwing Junior into a tizzy.

Not that that means much. I might even be on the wrong board. Hard to keep up with these two.

Carlsen has finally departed from their previous game and played 22...Bc3 rather than 22..Be5 as in Sofia, so he had obviously prepared this game thoroughly. Not surprising, taking into account the defeat in this line at the hands of Shirov last year. I hope it pays off.
Junior much prefers Bc3 to Be5 (1.35 versus 1.65 points, so not good but less bad.)
Still a pawn down needs taking care of.

Instead of 23...Qf6, Black might have tried the exchange on =e1=, but he prefers to push ahead and take full advantage of his position.

Again on move 24 Shirov tempts him to take, and again, Carlsen refuses.
Psychology is as much part of the game as chess moves themselves.

25.Bc4 and now Carlsen has no option but to take the piece.
At least I don't think he has.

Oh yes he does!!


26.g3 Still tempting the exchange of Rook and Bishop.
This is a real headbanger of a game.

26...Rbe8 I can't comprehend. Has he missed 26...d3 ?

Can't stand the tension, have to get out for a quick walk in the faint winter sunshine.
Back soon.

On my return 5 moves later, the position was too volatile to pursue this game for a win and they did the sensible thing and drew by repetition.

Meanwhile Nakamura is falling apart and I can see Kramnik gain the full point.
This will mean that these will change places on the leaderboard and Kramnik and Carlsen will share second place still behind Shirov.

The play-through game between Shirov and Carlsen will be posted later.

But first the important outcome of the Kramnik vs Nakamura game.

I joined it just at the moment that Black fell to pieces and messed up a perfectly equal game. Not my fault: I never said a word.

Here is the game from the position where I came in on.