Magnus Carlsen - Teimour Radjabov

Round 14
Morelia Linares 2008


Good day everyone, welcome to the live coverage of the last round of 2008 Morelia Linares. Teimour Radjabov won the game in Morelia after opening improvisation in the Berlin Ruy Lopez. This time Magnus Carlsen is white and he needs a win in a race for the tournament trophy. Radjabov sticks with his openings as black, so King's Indian or Sveshnikov Sicilian?

1.e4 e5!? No Sveshnikov today, so Jaenish gambit? :)

2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 Radjabov alre ady played this gambit in Morelia Linares. Against Anand he took an easy draw, but Topalov imposed him certain problems.

4.d3 (4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 for many years this was the main antidote for Jaenisch Gambit, but recently black found improvements and white went on to search different plans.)

4... fxe4 5.dxe4 Nf6 6.O-O Bc5 ( More passive but solid is 6... d6 7.Nc3 Be7 8.Qd3 Bg4 9.h3)

7.Qd3 d6 8.Qc4!? Carlsen is following the same plan that was used by Topalov. Qc4 prevents castle. (8.Nc3 O-O 9.Bxc6 bxc6 is not bothering black and they scored well in this line)

8... Qe7 9.Nc3 Bd7 9...Be6 would be met with 10. Nd5

10.Nd5 (10.Bg5 wasn't tried on grandmaster level 10... a6 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.a4 Ba7 13.Nh4 Qf7 14.Qe2 as seen in one amateur game)

10... Nxd5 11.exd5 Nd4 12.Nxd4 (12.Bxd7+ Qxd7 13.Nxe5!? Qf5 14.Nd3 demands practical test. But since neither Topalov or Carlsen took this pawn, we can assume that they have found satisfactory replies for black.)

12... Bxd4 13.Bxd7+ Qxd7 14.a4 a6 15.Be3 Bxe3 16.fxe3 O-O-O 17.Rf2 Rdf8 18.Raf1 Qe7!? (18... Rxf2 19.Rxf2 Qe7 Radjabov traded pair of rooks against Topalov, who was later able to claim the f-file. Game move keeps the tension. Carlsen examined their game and he obviously believes that white's small advantage can be converted to full point. Let's see how (if) he can improve Topalov's play.)

19.Qe4 g6 20.Rf3 Kb8 21.b3 Perhaps this is exactly what Carlsen intended, to play a long game with small plus and minimal risk of losing. He can follow events in Anand-Topalov and accordingly adjust the pace in his own game.

21... Rxf3 22.Qxf3 Qg5!? Just like in a game with Topalov, Radjabov is giving f-file in exchange for queen's activity.

23.h3 Rc8 Idea is c7-c6. f-file won't count for much if black gets coordinated Q and R counterplay.

24.Kh2 White didn't achieve much, but maybe Carlsen is simply passing the ball into Radjabov's yard.

24... Qh4 Black is also not hurrying. But c7-c6 will be played pretty soon.

25.c4 a5 This is interesting skeleton transformation. Radjabov is killing any b4 intentions (in case of Qh4 pushed back), but this will make c6 harder to play because a5 pawn becomes weakness.

26.e4!? This push was responsible decision. Now black queen might have lots of squares to operate on c1-h6 diagonal. Maybe Carlsen wants to play Qe3 next and Rf7? Alternative was 26. g3!? or 26. g4!? with idea Qf6.

26... Qh6!? Expected! Prevents Qe3 and takes aim on d2 square.

27.Qf2 b6 28.g3! Beginning of a slow squeeze on the kingside. After forcing black to play b6 all of his queenside activity is denied, and the only remaining problem is annoying Qh6. Carlsen will slowly advance the pawns until he plays g5, and only then Qf6 or Qf7 will follow.

28... Kb7 29.Kg2 Ra8 30.h4 Kh3 and g4-g5 are to follow. Radjabov knows he's in trouble. Anand just drew his game with Topalov and now Carlsen has a chance to tie the first place if he wins this game. According to Morelia Linares rules (have to doublecheck) individual score is first tiebreak, and in such case Anand will be declared winner. Anyway, Carlsen had a fantastic start of the season, having tied first at Corus and fighting for the first place in Linares.

30... g5!? Radjabov is sacrificing a pawn for some activity, maybe the only practical chance. (30... Qh5 31.Kh3 g5 32.g4! and white is significantly better)

31.Qe3 Rg8 32.Rf5 (32.Rh1!? was worth of consideration, because then black queen is not coming to the 1st rank.)

32... Qh5 33.hxg5 Qd1 The whole point behind the pawn sacrifice. The queen will try to ruin white's coordination with the constant presence on the back ranks. 34. Rf7!? Qh5 35. Qf3!? looks promising.

34.Rf7 Qh5 35.Qf3 Qxg5!? (35... Rxg5 36.Qxh5 Rxh5 and even if the Rh5 looks passive, it has sufficient potential to prevent white king from marching to the queenside for b3-b4 break. It is unclear how can white win this without king's activity.)

36.Rxh7 Qf4!? 37. Qxf4 exf4 38. Rh3 Kc8 would be a drawing rook endgame. Rook somewhere on the h-file (h1, h2, h3, h5) should be played.

37.Rh5! Idea Rf5

37... Rg7 38.Qd3 Preventing Qd2+ with Rf5 to follow. Black queen still has c1 square though.

38... Qc1! Radjabov has good counterplay now.

39.Qf3 Qf4 40.Qxf4 exf4 41.Rh3 fxg3 42.Rxg3 Black should be able to hold this endgame to a draw.

42... Rh7 43.Kf3 Rf7+ 44.Ke3 Rf1 45.Kd4 Rd1+ Both are playing fairly quick, Carlsen has 105 minutes on his clock!

46.Rd3 Re1 47.Re3 Rd1+ 48.Kc3 Rc1+ 49.Kd2 Rb1 50.e5!? dxe5 51.Kc2 Rh1 52.Rxe5 Rh3! Practically, Radjabov still has to work in 4:3 position to secure a draw, but we should bear in mind that he is fantastic endgame player. Rh3 will have an eye on white's only weakness - b3, thus obstructing Carlsen's attempts to do anything active.

53.Re2 Going for a bridge on d3...

53... Kc8 54.Rd2 Kd7 55.Rd3 Rh2+ 56.Kc3 Rh1 57.Rg3 Rd1 58.Rg7+ Kd6 59.Rg6+ Kd7 60.Rc6!? Interesting idea to prepare c5, or even d6 at some moment, but Radjabov has enough squares on the d-file to stop it, 60...Rc1+ 61. Kb2 Rd1 62. Kc2 Rd4

60... Rc1+ 61.Kb2 Rd1 62.Kc2 Rd4 63.b4 axb4 64.Kb3 Rd1 65.Kxb4 Rb1+ 66.Kc3 Ra1 67.Kb3 Rb1+ 68.Ka2 Rb4 69.Ka3 Rb1 and the players have agreed to draw after a well fought endgame! Excellent defending effort from Radjabov who sacrificed a pawn at the right moment to gain some counterplay. Perhaps Carlsen missed some better moves (32. Rh1!?), but in general he had a wonderful tournament. Tied first at Corus and clear second at Linares proves that wonderboy is ready for a big year. This closes our live coverage of 2008 Morelia Linares, thank you everyone for joining us. Final report will follow later tonight, make sure to look at Chessdom homepage. 1/2-1/2