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Magnus Carlsen vs Lajos Portisch
Gausdal Classics GM-group A (2007), Gausdal NOR, rd 7, Apr-24
Catalan Opening: Open Defense (E04)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-24-07  THE pawn: Opening lesson: Never try sticking to your d-pawn in the open Catalan.
Apr-25-07  dragon reborn: 14 Rxd5 is nice!
Apr-25-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <dragon reborn: 14 Rxd5 is nice!> Well, that is hard to assess. You can't say it was good because it worked. Sometimes, this kind of sacrifice in Tal style works because your opponent is weaker and has to face a complicated position where you can mix things. I would write 14.♖d5!? was interesting.

I guess Portisch play could have been improved. 15...♕xb4? was doubtful (better should be 15...♕d4, pinning the Knight), as Carlsen could have developed a direct attack against the Black King with 16.♘xd5 ♕c4 17.♘xc7+! ♔d8 18.♕d1+! ♔xc7. Black cannot survive with his King in the middle of the board. 18.♗d5 is winning. If 18...♕c3 19.♗d2; if 18...♕g4 19.♗f4; if 18...♕c5 19.♗e3. In each of these variations the dark squares Bishop goes on a different square, but with the same result. White's attack developps easily.

Instead of that Carlsen played something weird, 16.♗a3? as Portisch could answer 16...♕d4 pinning the Knight in order to come back with the Queen to defend the King. For instance, 17.♖d1 ♕a7 18.♗xf8 ♔xf8 19.♘xd5 c5, White's compensation is very unclear. After the move actually played 16...♕g4?, Carlsen gradually took the advantage until Portisch blundered with 29...♕a2?, losing for sure.

On the all, a very interesting game, but not a completely accurate one from Carlsen's part. I have the feeling that sometimes Hans Magnus goes for double-edged sacrifices, where it is not absolutely necessary, and moreover could lose his way (like against Topalov at the beginning of the year). This could be a defect in his play at the highest level.

Apr-25-07  Takya Kotov: <Mateo> This is not the sort of sacrifice that you make against someone of the calibre of Portisch, unless you are pretty sure that you are on to something. Portisch may be weaker than Carlsen nowadays, but he was once one of the world's best players and is still no mug. Carlsen is a class player and will definately get better. I am prepared to accept that he knew full well what he was doing.
Apr-27-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: I'm inclined to agree with Mateo's evaluation of 14.Rxd5!?. However, it is exactly the kind of move that Portisch has had trouble dealing with during his entire career. While I certainly wouldn't call him a "mug", dealing with unexpected and unclear middlegame positions was always his fatal weakness; had it not been for that he would very likely have been world champion. My guess is that Carlsen played this move for exactly that reason.
Apr-27-07  Helloween: This is exactly why Portisch has been on the losing end of more beauty prizes than any GM ever! He can't handle the combinations.
Apr-27-07  DutchDunce: Come to think of it, yes. For example, Hort vs Portisch, 1973
Apr-30-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  sneaky pete: If 15... Qd4 16.Bb2 .. unpinning, with a very promising position. After 15... Qxb4 16.Nxd5 Qc4 17.Nxc7+ Kd8 18.Qd1+ Kxc7 I don't see how white wins. If 19.Bf4 Be6 20.Rc1 Bc5 21.Rxc4 bxc4 (indicated by Hans Ree) with 22... Rfd8 next, black has completed his development and is certainly no worse.

6... Rb8 is a horrible move and an insult to Caissa that deserves to be punished, but to do so forceful measures like the (apparent) novelty 8.b3 .., 14.Rxd5 .. and the logical 16.Ba3 .. (to keep black undeveloped) are required.

Oct-07-08  jovack: outclassed
even i could have won this game as white, or at least had draw... portisch just went for all the short term pawn gains
Aug-13-17  Dave12: A hidden pearl.

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