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Etienne Bacrot vs Magnus Carlsen
Baku Grand Prix (2008), Baku AZE, rd 13, May-05
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Three Knights Variation (E21)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-06-08  Whitehat1963: I'm beginning to think that Magnus Carlsen is the real deal and that Radjabov, Karjakin, and all the rest of the young stars are pretenders next to him. I'll make a prediction right now: Magnus Carlsen will become the world chess champion within five years.
May-06-08  Discerning King: 27...Kb7!! Heavy
Premium Chessgames Member
  kamalakanta: "Jimfromprovidence: I'm liking 30 g4!? here."

Hi, Jim! I guess you like it because it is an active move. However, after 30...Nf4 the White Queen is overloaded. On the one hand, it wants to defend the c4 pawn. On the other, the Black Queen is threatening to invade through a4.

So if White plays 31.Qf1, Qa4! is very active for Black. White's Queenside is collapsing.

White's mistake came earlier, when he should have played d5 while his Knight was still on b3, therefore preventing Black from activating the Knight through Na5.

Thus the move 21. Nd2 is a mistake, and 21. d5 would have forced the Black knight to go to e7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <kamalakanta> Yeah, it looks like after 30 g4 Nd4 31 Qc2 white is in a lot of trouble, with at least the loss of a couple of pawns.

Maybe simply playing 30 Qc2, anticipating black’s Qa4, would have been more effective.

Anyway, it’s clear that Carlsen simply outperformed his opponents in his last two matches of this tournament.

May-07-08  VinnyRoo2002: To follow up on Kama's comment, what was wrong with 19. d5, black's knight doesn't have any active squares to go to and black's light squared bishop will be inactive for a while. Is there any tactical motif I'm missing?

Also, at one point do you guys think black had a winning endgame because with opposite colored bishops, I thought white could hold the endgame.

May-07-08  euripides: <Vinny> With this pawn formation White will often avoid d5 because it gives Black the c5 square. Black can play Nb8-a6 and possibly occupy c5.

Opposite coloured bishops are drawish on their own but not with major pieces on the board. They do sometimes give the defence the resource of offering a rook exchange, but the rook and bishop combination is hard to defend against when the defence' own bishop is on the other colour.

May-07-08  euripides: ...I see from chessbase that both players criticised 24.Qa4 allowing Re3 and the subsequent exchange sacrifice.
May-07-08  sheaf: a touch of anand in this game, carlsen is learning fast and is in fact developing a style comparable to the best.
May-07-08  JohnBoy: <znprdx>: I was thinking the same thing. 43.Bd2 just gives back the X. After some consideration, though, I don't think that there is a choice. Black threatens ...Ne2+, ...Ra1+ followed by ...Ne4+, and worst of all either ...Bd3 or ...Bb3 with several mates (a1 or c2). White is in deep trouble.
May-07-08  whiteshark: "On the Playchess server Carlsen fans were looking at <37...Re8> and a forced win: <38.Bd2 Rxe1 39.Bxe1 Nf4 40.Rxg4 Nd3+ 41.Kb1 Nxe1–+> [and which twinlark already pointed out :D].

click for larger view

Their collective hearts stopped when Magnus played <37...a5> and the Fritz evaluation dropped from 3.00 to 0.75. They were able to quickly work out that Black would end up with an extra pawn in an opposite bishop ending, which usually spells a dead draw. [Actually it's a ♖+oc♗ where the ♖ reduces the generalism to absurdity. w/s]

But Norwegian Magni are made of sterner stuff. With precise and imaginative play the 17-year-old took the point to join the leading group in the final table of the tournament.

May-07-08  euripides: <whiteshark> Despite the Fritz evaluation (which may be dominated by the material advantage), I wonder whether that position might be harder to win than the endgame Carlsen went into. The knight is tricky to extricate and none of Black's pieces is well placed to stop the g pawn. R vs BN can be dangerous where the rook has an outside passed pawn. Moreover, White can play 41.Kc2 Nxe1+ 42.Kd2 Nd3, when the bishop as well as the knight has reduced mobility. Of course analysis may produce a forced winning line.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Maybe 24 Rh7 works for white.

click for larger view

Black has very few options here. If he moves his queen, white can exchange his h rook for that excellently posted e rook and black probably loses his f pawn in the process after Bxf5.

Black's best play might be 24 …Qxh7 25 Rxh7 Rxh7 26 Bxf5 and white has a small advantage.

click for larger view

May-07-08  whiteshark: <euripides: <...Moreover, White can play <41.Kc2 Nxe1+ 42.Kd2 Nd3>, when the bishop as well as the knight has reduced mobility. Of course analysis may produce a forced winning line.>>

click for larger view

Here are Shredder 11 generated lines, indicating that it's lost, too...

1) 43.Rh4 a5 44.g4 a4 45.g5 a3 46.Rh1 Nf4 47.Kc2 b5 48.Ra1 a2 49.Kb2 Kc6 50.Rg1 Ng6 51.Rh1 Kd5 52.Rh6 b4 53.cxb4 Nf4 -4.74/24

2) 43.Rg3 Nf4 44.Rg4 Nd5 45.Re4 a5 46.Kc2 a4 47.Kb2 Kc6 48.Rh4 Kb5 49.g4 Bd3 50.g5 Kc4 51.Rh6 Ne7 -4.56/23

3) 43.Re4 a5 44.Re3 Nf4 45.g3 Nd5 46.Rf3 a4 47.g4 a3 48.Kc1 b5 49.g5 Ne7 50.Kb1 Kb6 51.Ka1 c5 52.dxc5+ -4.62/23

4) 43.Kc2 a5 44.Rh4 Ne1+ 45.Kd2 Nxg2 46.Rg4 Bf1 47.c4 a4 48.Kc3 a3 49.Rg3 Nf4 50.Rf3 Ne2+ 51.Kb4 Bg2 52.Rxa3 Nxd4 -4.84/23

Playing through these lines it seems to me that ♗♘+a-♙ are a good team, whereas white's ♖+g-♙ can't be successfully coonordinated.

May-07-08  euripides: <whiteshark> thanks. It looks as if the pawn can be blockaded and/or the a pawn pushed so fast that the rook has to be pulled back, releasing Black's minor pieces.
May-07-08  outsider: twinlark& future generations> there was no shortage of time at black move 37. carlsen had at least 35 minutes, and, as i remember (i watched live) he did not think more than 5 minutes over that move.
May-07-08  percyblakeney: One line suggested by Chesspro is <24. Rh7 Qxh7 25. Rxh7 Rxh7 26. Bxf5 Rh1+ 27. Kb2 Rg1 28. Bh3 g4 29. fxg4 Re8 30. g5 Nxc4+ 31. Nxc4 Bxc4 32. Bf2 Rf1 33. Bg4 b5 34. Bg3 Kb8> and it looks complicated:

click for larger view

May-07-08  twinlark: <outsider>

Thanks for that info...I wasn't watching at the time, so that settles whether Carlsen was in zeitnot. Clearly he wasn't.

I find it interesting the way flaws can add interest to a game rather than detracting. It reminds me of an ancient practice (not sure where) where flaws were purportedly installed deliberately into pottery so they wouldn't be perfect, and therefore boring.

Either ending would have been fine, obviously, but I'm glad Magnus made the oversight he did as his handling of the resulting endgame, especially in a "must win" situation, was fascinating.

This game, flaws and all, again proves this lad's mettle and temperament.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <perceyblakeney><One line suggested by Chesspro is <24. Rh7 Qxh7 25. Rxh7 Rxh7 26. Bxf5 Rh1+ 27. Kb2 Rg1 28. Bh3 g4 29. fxg4 Re8 30. g5 Nxc4+ 31. Nxc4 Bxc4 32. Bf2 Rf1 33. Bg4 b5 34. Bg3 Kb8> and it looks complicated:>

There’s an offshoot to that line that looks like it produces a draw by repetition for white.

After, 24. Rh7 Qxh7 25. Rxh7 Rxh7 26. Bxf5 Rh1+ 27. Kb2 Rg1 28. Bh3 g4,

then, <29. Bxg4!? Rxg2 30 Bxd7+ Kxd7 31 Qh7+ Kc6 32 Qe4+ Kd7 33 Qg4+ Kc6, 34 Qe4+ Kd7>, etc.

click for larger view

Notice that when the queen is checking on g4 black's king cannot move off of the light squares because Bh4+ would win black's rook on g2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Moves like 23...Re7 are the hardest to understand, because it looks like Carlsen is very near defeat if 24 Rh7.

I couldn't understand the justification, but Chesspro's line given by <percyblakeney> looks plausible.

Only when you see that Carlsen was dodging defeat in the straightforward lines does it become clear how well he played

if 23...Bxc4 24 Nxc4 Nxc4 25 Qa4 Re3 26 Rh7

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This position is really lost for Black as opposed to merely worse, as the tricks don't work after 26...Qe6 27 d5

or 26...Rxd3 27 Rxf7 Rxc3+ 28 Kb1 Rxf7 29 Be1 winning more material.

May-09-08  minasina: Rybka analysis samples
May-13-08  Augalv:

click for larger view

Quite complicated struggle but I guess Magnus was aiming for that.He badly needed to win this one to catch up with leaders of the tournament.

Last move is 24.Qa4.


Intro into exchange sacrifice, Bishop will be eliminated, then a3 and c4 pawns will be shaky.

25.Rh7 Qe8 26.Qc2 Nf6 ( diagram )

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Very serious error.
First we need to check 27.Bxf5+ Kb8, does not look to good for first player. 27.Rg7! is right thing to decide, here Black can respond with 27..f4 or 27..Kb8!? If 27..Kb8 28.Bf2 Rxd3 29.Qxd3 Qa4! ( 29..Nd5?! 30.Rxg5 Qa4 31.Qc2 Qxa3+ 32.Qb2 Qxb2+ 33.Kxb2 Nxc4+ 34.Nxc4 Bxc4 and if you compare this position from the game's position you will notice that here White managed to eliminate pawn on g5, but still it's difficult fight ahead, Black's dominance on light squares gives him conterchances ) 30.Qc2 Qxa3+ 31.Qb2 Qa4! 32.Rxg5 Nd7 ( diagram )

click for larger view

This is difficult to access but I guess that bare position on White King can give to Black enough compensation for exchange.

If 27..f4!? 28.Bf2 Rxd3 29.Qxd3 Qa4 30.Qc2 Qxa3+ 31.Qb2 Qa4 is also difficult to estimate.

27..Kb7 28.Bf2 Rxd3 29.Qxd3 Nd5 ( diagram )

click for larger view

Other logical move is 29..Qa4.

30.Re1 Qa4 31.Qc2 Qxa3+ 32.Qb2 Qxb2+ 33.Kxb2 Nxc4+ 34.Nxc4 Bxc4 ( diagram )

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If you compare this position with 27.Rg7 analysis you will notice that White is behind in time.He is not capable to capture Black's Kingside pawns at all so evaluation favours Black.Point is that he will open another file soon with g4 and King on b2 will be seriousely exposed to mating threats.


Maybe 35.Rg6!? but Bacrot prefers full control of open files.

35..g4 36.fxg4 fxg4 ( diagram )

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May-13-08  Augalv: Difficult lifetime for White.


But this is blunder! 37.Rhh1 is probably best move.


Probably serious mutual time trouble.37..Re8! 38.Bf2 Rxe1 39.Bxe1 Nf4 and White can resing.

38.Rxg4 a4 39.Rg3

If 39.Ka3 trying to stop advance of a-pawn then 39..b5! with next Nxc3.

39..a3+! ( diagram )

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Not good idea at all.White must keep a-file closed, 40.Ka1 b5 41.Rc1.White can cope with mounting pressure for some time.

40..Ra8+ 41.Kb2 Ra2+ 42.Kc1 Nxc3 43.Bd2 Ne2+ 44.Rxe2 Bxe2

White's g-pawn is a small obstacle for Black but he can handle it.Bishop on d5 post supported by Rook on g-file will stop it and then Black start thinking how to advance his own pawns.

45.Rg7 Ra4 46.Bc3 b5 47.g4 Bf3 48.g5 b4 49.Bb2 Ra5 50.Kc2 Bd5 51.Re7 Bc4 52.Bc2 Rf5

White can't escape, Black Rook is too strong, he controls g-pawn and attacks White King in the same time.

53.Bd2 Rf2 54.g4 Rg2

54..b3+ is faster way to win.

55.g7 Kc6 56.Re8 Bf7 57.Rb8 b3+ 58.Kc3 Rxg7

Last hope for White ended in belly of Black Rook, it's over.

59.Kb2 Bc4 60.Kc3 Kd5 61.Rb7 Rg3+ 62.Kb2 Kxd4 0-1

Extracted from blog about Sergey Karjakin.

Jun-19-12  fisayo123: Incredible game!
Feb-04-14  JohnBoy: One of my favorite MC games.

<WhiteHat - 6May08> "I'm beginning to think that Magnus Carlsen is the real deal and that Radjabov, Karjakin, and all the rest of the young stars are pretenders next to him. I'll make a prediction right now: Magnus Carlsen will become the world chess champion within five years."

Off by a couple of months. But good shot!

Feb-21-14  Morphized: That was awesome :D
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