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Vasyl Ivanchuk vs Magnus Carlsen
XXII Magistral Ciudad de Leon (2009) (blitz), Leon ESP, rd 2, Jun-07
Sicilian Defense: Lasker-Pelikan. Sveshnikov Variation Novosibirsk Variation (B33)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-24-09  lzromeu: I got it and Carlsen missed it, waw!
My ego thanks for this puzzle
Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: I had trouble seeing this one--even after being told that Black had a simple win somehow--but I persisted. Eventually saw the deflection.

It's an instructive position.

Jun-24-09  Smothered Mate: <M.Hassan> What is this forced mate?
Jun-24-09  kevin86: I saw this one in a shot! and the champ didn't. BUT,I knew it was a puzzle.

After: 38...♖a5!! 39 ♘f5 ♘f2+ 40 ♖xf2 ♖xa1 and mate follows.

There is a two way pin here. The rook cannot leave the second row on penalty of ♘f2# nor the a-file on penalty of ♖xa1+ and mate follows.

A tough fix,but alas,Carlsen missed the key move.

Jun-24-09  awfulhangover: This was a blitz game. Even some of us would once in a decade miss a move like -Ta5 on move 38 vs Ivanchuk in an important blitz game. Not me,of course.
Jun-24-09  Kasputin: 38 ....Ra5

If white plays 39. Rxa5 then ...Nf2 is mate.

So what else can white do? Putting the king in check with the d5 knight does nothing - black simply takes it with the bishop.

White cannot cover the f2 with moves like Rf1 because black simply wins the a2 rook. And moving the a2 rook allows capture of the a1 rook (with check) and then it will all soon be over. I can't see how white can escape material loss or mate.

Jun-24-09  Big Easy: Crap. I initially thought that 38...Ra5 was the correct move because the white rook on a2 can't leave that rank, but I gave up on it because I didn't see the continuation. Once again, after seeing it I can't believe I didn't get it.

It's also always interesting to see these puzzles where the GM misses the killing move. If Carlsen knew that there was a definite win on his 38th move he certainly would have found 38...Ra5!. It demonstrates that while these puzzles do help you play better chess, to find the move OTB is much more difficult when you don't have something telling you there is a strong move to be found.

Jun-24-09  xiko9: It was a 5 min rapid match so the fact that carlsen missed is reasonable...
Jun-24-09  aginis: <once> i was just wondering why Carlsen didn't play Bxc3 over Nxc3 even if he missed the better 38...Ra5
Jun-24-09  hedgeh0g: A crushing blow which shouldn't be too difficult to find if you're a 2750 GM. Then again, time may well have been a factor...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: 36 R8a5 (instead of 36 h4) looks like it stops black's attack, not allowing black to play e3 followed by Ne4.

click for larger view

Jun-24-09  WhiteRook48: I was thinking 38...Rxd5?
Jun-24-09  xrt999: < hedgeh0g: A crushing blow which shouldn't be too difficult to find if you're a 2750 GM. Then again, time may well have been a factor...>

Carlsen was just saving his energy to give his all to the last 52 moves (moves 48 thru 100)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <aginis: <once> i was just wondering why Carlsen didn't play Bxc3 over Nxc3 even if he missed the better 38...Ra5>

I think Carlsen was following the normally good strategy for rapid play - when you see a half decent move, don't bother looking for a better move. Just play your first move and save time on the clock.

click for larger view

In the starting position, Carlsen spots a tempting tactic. The two white knights rely on each other for protection. If either knight moves, then the other one can be taken. Carlsen figures that he can win a piece by 38...Nxc3 since 39. Nxc3 Bxc3 leads to this position:

click for larger view

Black wins because white cannot protect the three threatened pieces - rook, knight and pawn.

Unfortunately for Carlsen, this turns out to be a mirage. Ivanchuck correctly spots that 39. exf4 is the only move to draw. Black still picks up an extra piece but by compensation white snaffles all the black pawns. And the ending of K+N+R vs K+R is very difficult to win.

So I think Carlsen didn't spot 38...Ra5 because he thought he had already spotted a winning tactic. And one winning tactic is usually enough. And I don't think he spotted 38...Bxc3 because he was after bigger game than just snaffling a pawn. He thought he was winning a piece.

But let's not be too hard on him. He didn't have the luxury of time or someone pointing out that there was a tactic in the position. And he did win the competition!

Jun-24-09  Marmot PFL: 38...Ra5 with double threat 39 Rxa5 Nf2# or else 39...Nf2+ 40 Rxf2 Rax1#. Still anyone could miss this in rapid, except maybe Anand.
Jun-24-09  SamAtoms1980: <MostlyAverageJoe: What a delightful puzzle with a forced mate in 38 moves!

Here's the line and the final position:

38. ... fxe3! <I hope that < User: remolino > will explain why this move deserves an exclamation mark :-> 39. Rg1 Nf2+ 40. Rxf2 exf2 41. Rxg7+ Kxg7 42. Kg2 Kf7 43. c4 Rc5 44. Nf5 Rxc4 45. Nfe3 Rxh4 46. Kxf2 Bxh2>

Played through the line to this point. My head started to hurt just from looking at the resulting K+R+B vs K+N+N endgame, which is notorious for wins that need over a hundred moves. If you take away the black pawn on d6, Black can still win with White to play, but the win takes 157 moves:

click for larger view

See Nalimov's tablebase site for all the details

Jun-24-09  PinnedPiece: Wonder if Carlsen would enjoy seeing his missed win listed as an Easy/Medium solve on

I was completely floored by the combo, myself.


Jun-24-09  Eisenheim: I heard that Carlsen also missed the Monday and Tuesday problem due to time. Let's see how he does on the Thursday problem.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: There are other famous puzzles that involve a rook sac on the a file that deflect a rook from the second rank and lead to disaster.
Jun-24-09  RandomVisitor: After 35.Kh1 black had winning possibilities:

click for larger view

[-2.20] d=17 35...e3 36.R8a2 f3 37.fxe3 Nb1 38.Rf2 Nxc3 39.Nxc3 Bxc3

[-1.53] d=17 35...Nf3 36.R8a2 Rg7 37.Rc2 Rg1+ 38.Rxg1 Nxg1 39.Nb4 Nxh3 40.Kg2 Ng5 41.Ned5 f3+

[-1.07] d=16 35...Nb1 36.Nc6 Rxd5 37.Rxb1

Jun-24-09  ChessPraxis: Very interesting combination! Would you call the basic tactic a Rook skewer or a Rook pin?
Jun-24-09  M.Hassan: <Smothered Mate: What is this forced mate?>. If Carlsen had played 38...Ra5 two alternatives could have happened: 39. Rxa5 Nf2# which White King is Mate OR IF
39.(any move) Nf2+ 40.Rxf2 Rxa1# which again White King is check-mated(the Rook can make another move but is of no use) and that is why I said it is a forced mate!. Thanks and regards for you
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: Regarding the above comments by <Smothered Mate:> and <M.Hassan:>, the claim of a "forced mate" is not really correct as that term is normally understood.

If Black had played 38. ... Ra5, White could have replied 39. Rg1, losing a Rook and going into a hopeless position, but the actual mate would be still too far away to be called a "forced mate" in the normal sense of the term.

In any case, of course, 38. ... Ra5! would have been completely winning for Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <ChessPraxis: Would you call the basic tactic a Rook skewer or a Rook pin?>

Good question. The pin and skewer are basically the same device anyway. You attack both one piece and another piece standing behind it.

In general terms, I think a pin is where the lower value piece is attacked first, as in this example:

click for larger view

The queen is pinned to the king. The queen cannot be moved because the king is of higher value (in fact, priceless). So the queen is lost.

By contrast, a skewer is when the higher value piece comes first. When it steps aside, you win the lower value piece behind it:

click for larger view

But what is it called when the two pieces are of the same value?

click for larger view

This is both a pin and a skewer. Black can choose which of the pieces to lose - the first rook or the second - because they are of equal value.

I suppose the most accurate description would be a double attack.

Dec-14-09  sezori: <agnis> How old are you, I seen you post with a date in 06'...In your notes you say your 21, but that was 3 years ago, right? Or is that generally speaking?
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