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Boris Gelfand vs Magnus Carlsen
World Championship Candidates (2013), London ENG, rd 3, Mar-17
Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Variation (D52)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-18-13  King Radio: fgh, I believe Daniel King recommended a4 from your first diagrammed position, and I don't see how white can lose after that plan. But Carlsen played almost perfectly from that point on - he played like Lasker used to play those kind of positions.
Mar-18-13  SuperPatzer77:

click for larger view

White is in complete zugzwang because the White Bishop wants to stay on the c3 square to prevent Nd2.

White is in despair: Instead of 56. Bd4, 56. e6 fxe6, 57. h7 Kxh7, 58. g6+ Kxg6 - then White has no choice and then has to move his bishop to d4 - 59. Bd4 b2, 60. Kc2 Nd2!

What a beautiful bishop and knight endgame by Carlsen!!!


Mar-18-13  fgh: <King Radio>: That idea also occurred to me when looking at the game after it finished. My point, however, was that nothing in chess can be taken for granted, even if you are 2700+ and just "play sensible moves", as this game shows.
Mar-18-13  Pedro Fernandez: < Eyal: <Pedro Fernandez> Yes, the line that you mention is somewhat less forcing than those that I gave, but it also seems to be ok for White. We're talking about 40.Qh5 Qc1 41.Qh8+ Ke7 42.Qf6+ Ke8 43.Qh8+ Nf8 44.e6 Qc6+ 45.Kh2 fxe6 - now comes 46.Qh5+ Kd8 (46...Ke7? 47.Bc5+) 47.Qf7 - and this is an example of a situation where White can start advancing his h-pawn in a way that might become dangerous for Black - so Black has to be careful not to get actually worse. The top recommendation of Houdini is 47...Nd7 48.h5 e5 49.Be3 Nf6 50.Bg5 and here Black himself has to force a draw by perpetual check: 50...Qc2+ 51.Kg1 (51.Kh3?? Qf5+) Qb1+ 52.Kg2 (52.Kf2?? Qf5+ again) Qc2+ etc.> Thanks a lot again my dear <Eyal>, what a good explanation! So I think that the position is really complicated, but as you said, probably it is a draw, so case closed.
Mar-18-13  moppa: Magnus' play reminds me of what I read from Jacob Aagaards book Excelling at Positional chess - here's the quote: "the choice of moves should not be made on an exact verdict of the final position, but on whether or not your position has improved or not". It might sound - as Aagaard continues - "obvious to the point of being naive" but I still find it interesting.

Instead of focusing on what was the last moment when Gelfand could have drawn the position we should maybe think why he got into a position where he needed very exact play in order not to lose in the first place.

Carlsen equalized nicely and even turned the tables in the sense that he was the one who was more comfortable, even if there still was a drawing resource - as there usually is.

That's why I think we should look stuff like Carlsen decided to allow visual activity, what kind of ideas were present in the knight against bishop ending etc etc instead of "it was equal until h5".

Not blaming anyone particular, just my 2 cents.

Mar-18-13  YouRang: About midway through this game (around move 32), someone asked for an assessment of this game, and I announced:

<Drawish IMO. Black queenside pawn majority balancing white's more open and advanced position.>

Thankfully, I had just enough wisdom to add the caveat: <But I wouldn't put it past Carlsen to find the win if given a chance.>

Obviously, Carlsen got the chance and took it. Today, I have a little time to come and see what happened.

Perhaps I didn't attach enough value to black's queenside majority, and I was surprised to see how quickly Carlsen managed to convert that advantage into a connected pair of passed pawns. Perhaps the game was over at that point, because almost any queen exchange favors black.

On the other hand, white was able to expose black's king enough to play more agressively for the draw. After 39 moves:

click for larger view

Here, white went with <40.h5?!>, a little inaccuracy to which Carlsen found the perfect response: <40...Qc1!>, blocking the progress of Ph5, getting out of the way of his passed pawns, and maximizing mobility.

White can neither advance the h-pawn, nor move the Q to any other square on the g-file to support it. Supporting the pawn from behind with 41.Qh4 loses to 41...Qc6+!, allowing black to position his queen on f3, and stop the advancing h-pawn with his king.

Given black's queenside advantage, Gelfand should have been aiming for a draw, which is best achieved by taking advantage of the exposed king with 40.Qh5!

click for larger view

For example: 40...a4 41.Qh8+ Ke7 42.h5

click for larger view

Now white's h-pawn has support, and white threatens to get his Q out of its way with check via Qf6+.

Perhaps black's best is 40...Ke8 41.Qh8+ Qf8 42.Qh7

click for larger view

But even then, white's control of the b1-h7 diagonal allows the Q to quickly switch between offensive and defensive duties, with opportunities to give check from the queenside. Drawing chances are still good for white.

In any case, Carlsen played his side of the board perfectly, and translated this drawish game into an important win.

Mar-18-13  Ulhumbrus: Instead of 8 Rc1, 8 Qd2 was the move in the games

Alekhine vs Nimzowitsch, 1934

Kasparov vs Smyslov, 1984

Kasparov vs Smyslov, 1984

Mar-18-13  Ulhumbrus: If one assumes that the attack 15 e5 will not aucceed an alternative is 15 Bf4 placing the bishop on a safer square
Mar-18-13  WiseWizard: This is cool the Black kings blockades all the pawns on its own and the Knight and pawns can keep improving while sacrificing eachother. Impressive he saw this at move 46. Do you think he calculated it all or is it a stock position he knows is successful? Excellent opening play from black too, relentlessly attacked the queenside and eventually created 2 passed pawns that decided the game, strong players set goals in the position that weaker players underestimate or overlook all together.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Carlsen has Grischuk next.

Hopefully the young Norwegian can produce another great game like this one:

Carlsen vs Grischuk, 2009

Mar-19-13  WiseWizard: Look out world, Carlsen's Black openings are very strong. Initiative from the gate, Gelfand likes to play solid, structural games and Carlsen never let him catch his breath. Engine says 0.00 throughout but it looks pretty tough to play for White. On 20. Rd1 Bf8 21. Rdc1 Houdini analyzed 21...Rc7 what about 22. Nb2 here?
Mar-19-13  flipflop: Good instructive endgame technique by Carlsen!
Mar-19-13  7he5haman: In my (very humble) opinion, and with the benefit of hindsight, I think White should have tried <30.a4>:

click for larger view

With the aim of liquidating his potentially weak a-pawn and for Black's b-pawn with <31.a5>.

That looked like a surer way to draw. White could possibly even end up with winning chances IF he could somehow trade his a-pawn for Black's b-pawn and then win Black's last queenside pawn, but that is a big 'if'.

Apr-01-13  chesskador: I thought that in endgame where there are pawns on both sides of the board, the bishop is stronger than the knight. But now it is challenged by Carlsen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Instructive position at 40..Qc1. The Knight dominates the Bishop,Carlsens' Qside pawns are racing down the board,and Gelfand's h pawn can easily be blocked.

Still.I'd still hesitate saying this was won for black from this position...

Nov-05-13  jphamlore: <chesskador: I thought that in endgame where there are pawns on both sides of the board, the bishop is stronger than the knight.>

Looking earlier in the game, Carlsen appears to have vindicated an offhand remark Capablanca made in Chess Fundamentals that the Queen and Knight is slightly stronger than the Queen and Bishop in the endgame.

Feb-05-14  onam: 15. e5 This is a committal decision. White doesn't really have chances for an attack on the kingside. Meanwhile, the move in the text weakens the light squares.
Jun-01-15  Chessman1504: Games like these help me understand that I don't know anything about chess.
Jun-01-15  visayanbraindoctor: <Chessman1504: Games like these help me understand that I don't know anything about chess.>

If I may say so, on the contrary, it is games like this that showcase the strength of playing in a correct positional style. Carlsen demonstrates in a masterful manner how to take advantage of a Queenside pawn majority. He prophylactically neutralizes any tactic from White in the Kingside, while pushing up his Queenside pawns at every opportunity. Gelfand is left thrashing about, but can't avoid the inevitable.

Jun-01-15  visayanbraindoctor: <jphamlore: Looking earlier in the game, Carlsen appears to have vindicated an offhand remark Capablanca made in Chess Fundamentals that the Queen and Knight is slightly stronger than the Queen and Bishop in the endgame.>

I distinctly remember this from Chess Fundamentals. And I have found this quite true. Queen and Knight is a very potent combination. Carlsen is astonishingly good (and the best at present) in applying the fundamentals of chess.

I cant' quite understand the many posts from his fans that purport that somehow they can't understand Carlsen's chess, as though it's some kind of incomprehensible sorcery. They keep on ending up saying that irritating adjective <scary> to describe his stye, which does little to explain the way he plays and does injustice to it. There is much to learn from Carlsen's classical treatment of positional advantages and disadvantages.

Jun-01-15  Chessman1504: <visayanbraindoctor> Well, yes, Carlsen's play seems to just be fundamental, correct positional chess. However, in my experience, limited as it may be, playing correctly is not enough to win, especially against players of the highest order. The trick is to find the most accurate way of exploiting this or that advantage. It is clear that Carlsen has the edge by the time the Queen and knight vs Queen and bishop ending is reached, but I mostly react to the fact that, if I had such a position, I would know what to do in principle, but make a slight misstep here or there that would allow my opponent to salvage the half-point. I have, in fact, done this, and have given up the other half point as well! :) Yet, Carlsen plays it flawlessly. That's what I mean by "I don't know anything about chess."
Jun-02-15  Chessman1504: Well, I think I should clarify. Obviously, if you play correctly and have a winning advantage, you will win. What I mean is that, one can play according to fundamental principles but proceed with fulfilling them in an incorrect manner. What I mean is that, I often have the right idea, but execute it in the wrong way. That is why I say Carlsen makes me understand how little I know. I think close to the end of the game, the position is such that one small inaccuracy by Carlsen would throw his advantages out of the window and have the game peter out to a draw. To sum up, in my hands, this position---> inaccurate play and a draw or loss. In Carlsen's hands---> Flawless ideas and flawless execution, based on what I've seen. Now, if the game is in reality an easy win, I'll figure that out through analysis, but so far, this game makes me understand where my weaknesses are.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jffun1958: 58. Bxd2 axd2 59. Kxd2 Nc4+
forking king and pawn on e4.
Feb-18-18  cormier:

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4: d 29 dpa

1. = (0.25): 14.Bh4 h6 15.c4 Rfe8 16.Rb1 Rac8 17.h3 Bf8 18.Rd1 Qf5 19.Qe2 Qe4 20.a4 Bd6 21.c5 Bc7 22.Rc4 Qg6 23.Rdc1 bxc5 24.dxc5 Nf6 25.Bxf6 Qxf6 26.Rg4 Red8 27.Rd4 a5 28.Qa6 e5

2. = (0.25): 14.c4 h6 15.Bh4 Rfe8 16.Rb1 Rac8 17.h3 Bf8 18.Rd1 Qf5 19.Qe2 Qe4 20.a4 Bd6 21.c5 Bc7 22.Rc4 Qg6 23.Rdc1 bxc5 24.dxc5 Nf6 25.Bxf6 Qxf6 26.Rg4 Red8 27.Rd4 a5 28.Qa6 e5

3. = (0.23): 14.Rd1 h6 15.Bh4 Rfe8 16.c4 Rac8 17.Bg3 Red8 18.Qe2 Be7 19.h3 Nf8 20.Bh4 Bxh4 21.Nxh4 Qa3 22.Nf3 Qe7 23.e4 Nd7 24.Rcd2 Nf6 25.Qd3 Nd7 26.Qe3

4. = (0.23): 14.h3 h6 15.Bf4 Rac8 16.c4 Be7 17.Bg3 Rfd8 18.Qe2 Nf8 19.Rd2 Ng6 20.Rfd1 Rd7 21.Qd3 Bb4 22.Rc2 Rcd8 23.Rb2 Be7 24.Qc2 Qf5

5. = (0.21): 14.Rb1 h6 15.Bf4 Rac8 16.c4 Be7 17.h3 c5 18.d5 exd5 19.Qxd5 Rfd8 20.Qb7 Bf6 21.Bc7 Re8 22.Rd1 Nf8 23.Be5 Rcd8 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Qe7 Rd1+ 27.Kh2 Qa4 28.Qe4 Ne6 29.Nh4 Ng5 30.Qf5 Rd8 31.f4 Ne6 32.Nf3 Kg7

no 14. e4 yet

Feb-18-18  cormier:

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4
40.Qh5 b4 41.Qh8+ Ke7 42.Qf6+ Kf8 43.Qh8+ Ke7
= (0.00) Depth: 25

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