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Magnus Carlsen vs Radoslaw Wojtaszek
Gashimov Memorial (2018), Shamkir AZE, rd 5, Apr-23
Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation (B23)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-23-18  offramp: This game has the longest moves I have ever seen at the end of a game. Arm stretchers.
Apr-23-18  Marmot PFL: Interesting anti-Sicilian line. Don't really like 9...h5 in such positions as it isn't clear to me that black will benefit from the open file, here he didn't.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Morning: 5.Qd2 does not appear in the database. Imagine that--two Super-GMs out of the books at move 5. Carlsen joins the land of the winning and keeps his WC match preparation a secret at the same time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by>

A move is just a move...

Apr-23-18  Severin: 17. Nd5 is a very cool sac/computer line that can initiate a killing attack.

17. ... exd5 18. exd5 kf8 19. dxc6


18. ... Nd8 19. Bg4 Rb8 20. Qd3 Rh6 21. Bxg7 Rg6 22. f5 Rxg7 23. f6 Rxg4 24. Rxe7, and black loses the Queen.

Really complicated and a lot of variations (altho white should have an edge in them all w/ perfect play) so can't blame Magnus for not playing it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: 27... Rh1 didn't work out so well. Black probably thought that MC had missed 29...Rxe5.
Apr-23-18  csmath: Indeed, my database does not have 5. Qd2 and I am die-hard Sicilian player.

Magnus has lost to Wojtaszek before and he believes he is a better player so he is going completely off the rails and into original opening. This is undoubtedly a surprise to Wojtaszek.

11. Ng5!?

This is very strange move, almost like an amateur but the goal is to defend e4 (after possible b4 by black) since black has no way of removing knight after 9. ...h4. Amazing decision by Carlsen and it goes to show he understands position better than Wojtaszek.

12. ...h4?
Waste of tempi!

Even though Magnus plays positionally there was a chance with a possibility of

17. Nd5! exd5
18. exd5 Kf8 (Nd8? 19.Bg4! and Qd3, if rook on c8 moves, with g7 pawn hanging) 19. dxc6 Bxc6
20. Bd3

with probably decisive advantage because lack of coordination between black heavy pieces.

Magnus played positionally until the end when he finally enter the tactical phase after

25. ... Rc5?
26. e5! dxe5
27. fxe5 Rh1?
28. Rxh1 Bxh1
29. Rh2

with decisive attack.

Apr-23-18  csmath: Positional Closed Sicilian game, precisely a huge advantage of world champion over pretty much every player today.

All he needs is to distract opponent with some unorthodox opening and then to showcase his better understanding of the position. Again we are witnessing one of the greatest chess players ever to play the game, playing unortodox moves.

Apr-23-18  Toribio3: Queen side bishop fiancheto is an innovation of World Champion Magnus Carlsen. From now on, this variation in the Closed Sicilian shall be named as "Carlsen" variation; pretty cool!
Apr-23-18  DansChessLounge: What I found amazing is that Magnus didn't do anything special in this game. Wojtaszek kind of self destructed and went into a losing combination. For a recap of the game with analysis check out the video -->
Apr-23-18  csmath: Well, he played

5. Qd2


11. Ng5

and you would not see many (any?) players to do that. Wojtaszek got lost in original opening and then went for "simplifications/exchanges" that got him into a losing position.

That is a kind of game a professional would play with some amateur but this is versus 2700+ player and it still works. Wojtaszek was taken outside opening theory and quickly got confused. I agree that 27. ...Rh1 is a silly move but it is in line with the rest of Wojtaszek moves in the middlegame, he is looking for exchanges and a draw but Magnus will not draw that kind of position.

The last 11 moves Magnus played like a machine.

Apr-23-18  Count Wedgemore: <csmath: Wojtaszek got lost in original opening and then went for "simplifications/exchanges" that got him into a losing position.>

Yes, like 15...Nh7 which seemed completely unnecessary. Exchanging pieces at all costs is often a sure recipe for disaster. Even with the black h-pawn gone astray, 15...0-0 seemed perfectly okay to me.

Apr-23-18  csmath: In either case Wojtaszek would have had a hard time saving this game after 24 moves. There is no coordination between his heavy pieces, his king's protection is about to get shattered and on the queenside the countergame is too slow.

It looks bad even with the best defense. I really do not see any good moves for black after 25. Qe3. My Stockfish 9 has a choice of 25. ...e5 which looks completely insane to me given where the black king is.

One looks how lousy his position is and then you think whom are you playing against, no wonder Wojtaszek got his pants full.

Apr-23-18  csmath: <Even with the black h-pawn gone astray, 15...0-0 seemed perfectly okay to me.>

Well, that is a psychology. This h5 move is on the back of mind of every Sicilian player (see games of Topalov). You sort of saying to yourself "I won't castle"

... unless I absolutely must." And when you say "I absolutely must" it is usually too late. :-)

Apr-23-18  Count Wedgemore: <csmath: And when you say "I absolutely must" it is usually too late. :-)>

So true.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Daniel ♔ analyses the game: (~18mins)
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Variation <17.Nd5 exd5 18.exd5 Kf8 19.dxc6 Bxc6>

click for larger view

White to move

1) +1.52 (24 ply) 20.Bg4 Re8 21.Qc3 Bd8 22.Rxe8+ Bxe8 23.Qd4 Bf6 24.Qxd6+ Qxd6 25.Rxd6 Bxb2 26.Kxb2 Rh6 27.Rxh6 gxh6 28.Bf3 Ke7 29.Kc3 a5 30.Kd4 Kd6 31.c4 bxc4 32.bxc4 Bc6 33.Bxc6 Kxc6 34.f5 a4

2) +1.29 (24 ply) 20.Bd3 Rh6 21.Bf5 Rd8 22.Bc3 Re8 23.g4 hxg3 24.hxg3 Bf3 25.Rc1 d5 26.Qd4 Bf6 27.Bb4+ Be7 28.Rxe7 Rxe7 29.Qe3 Bh1 30.Qe2 a5 31.Bxe7+ Qxe7 32.Qxb5 Be4 33.Bxe4 dxe4 34.Qxa5 e3 35.Re1 Rd6 36.Qa4

3) +1.03 (24 ply) 20.Qd3 Rh6 21.g4 hxg3 22.hxg3 Bf6 23.Bxf6 Rxf6 24.Bg4 Rd8 25.Bf5 Qb6 26.g4 Qc5 27.Be4 Bxe4 28.Rxe4 Rc8 29.c4 d5 30.Qxd5 Qxd5 31.Rxd5 bxc4 32.Rh5 Kg8 33.bxc4

1.0 minute analysis by Stockfish 9 v010218

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <GM Huschenbeth> has analysed this game, too: (~15mins)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: Games like this are why Carlsen has continued to climb up the ranks of my favorite players of all-time. While nearly everyone is going into deep theoretical lines, Carlsen is still trying out unique set-ups out of the opening. Here he repurposes an idea for the C16 French (..Qd7, b6, Bb7) to use in an open Sicilian. Nobody else is doing it.

He’s like (a responsible!) Bronstein in the opening, Spassky in the middlegame, and Karpov the rest of the way.

Aug-01-18  fisayo123: This variation deserves to be called the Sicilian Closed Carlsen Variation. One of the most impressive opening revelations in recent times.

Carlsen has shown in the last 2 years he's not just a follower World Champion. He's managed to come up with some impressive stuff in opening theory.

Aug-02-18  sakredkow: <csmath: This h5 move is on the back of mind of every Sicilian player (see games of Topalov). You sort of saying to yourself "I won't castle">

Interesting observation about ...h5 in the Sicilian. Now I have to start looking for it.

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