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Vassily Ivanchuk - Magnus Carlsen

Round 2
Grand Slam Final
Bilbao

03.09.2008

The duel between Ivanchuk and Carlsen is expected to be the most interesting game today. Both are in great form this year. The Norwegian outplayed in an impressive manner Aronian in the first round as Black and has the lead. The Ukrainian had good chances to defeat the World Champion Anand but got twice in severe time trouble and only managed to draw. May be some tiredness is accumulating - 3rd tournament in a row - but let's remember that almost every game at M-Tel Masters he was with mere seconds on the clock and started 5 out of 5. It is hard to predict Vasily's opening move but there is no doubt that an fascinating game between two extraordinary players, each of them fighting for the win, is to be expected.

1.e4 The first move of Ivanchuk implies a desire to test Carlsen's new pet line - the Sicilan Dragon.

1... c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 (9.O-O-O is a popular option to fight for opening advantage. The Ukrainian prefers not to let Black play d6-d5.)

9... Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 ( As White finds it hard to demonstrate any advantage in the lines after 12.h4 h5 , the Ukrainian goes for a fashionable alternative.)

12... a6 ( A rare move which makes Ivanchuk to start thinking for a long time. 12... Re8 is considered as best after moves like) (12... Nc4) ( or 12... b5 were refuted. Of course Magnus has his own opinion about the position, surely based upon a lot of analysis. He played 3 games in this line during the last two months. Although scoring only two draws and a loss, some repairs must have been made. Still no move by Ivanchuk for more than 30 minutes.)

13.Rhe1 ( A new move. 13.h4 h5 14.g4 is the topical continuation which White avoided after 40 minutes of considering the resulting complications.) ( The typical exchange of the dark-squared Bishop is met tactically by 13.Bh6 Rxc3 14.bxc3 Bxh6 15.Qxh6 a5 16.a4 Qb6 with excellent positional compensation.)

13... b5 14.Bh6 Bxh6 15.Qxh6 Rxc3 Standard for such positions exchange sacrifice, but the difference is that White may go directly f3-f4 and e4-e5. (15... Rc5 taking control over the 5th rank deserves attention. There is a tactical trick behind such move: 16.f4 Nf3 17.Nxf3 Rh5) (15... a5 looks interesting as well: 16.Ndxb5 (16.Ncxb5 a4 17.Bxa4 Qa5 18.b3 Nc4) 16... a4 17.Bxa4 Qa5 18.Qd2 Rc5 19.Nxd6 with complications.)

16.bxc3 a5 17.f4 Of course.

17... Neg4 (17... Nc4 18.e5)

18.Qh4 a4 19.Bxf7+ ( The simple 19.h3 axb3 20.cxb3 seems stronger.)

19... Rxf7 ( Now lines like 19... Rxf7 20.h3 Qc7 21.hxg4 Qxc3 22.Rd3 Qb4+ 23.Ka1 Nxg4 lead to good compensation for the sacrificed exchange.)

20.e5 Nd5 21.e6 ( Ivanchuk plays all the thematic moves but did he manage to calculate everything in lines as 21.e6 Nxc3+ 22.Ka1 Bxe6 23.Nxe6 Qc8 24.Rd4 Nxa2 25.Qh3 Rf6)

21... Nxc3+ 22.Kc1 ( After this move Black probably has to force a perpetual 22.Kc1 Bxe6 23.Nxe6 Nxa2+ 24.Kb2 Qc8 25.Qxg4 Qc3+)

22... Bxe6 23.Nxe6 Qa5 24.Qxg4 Nxa2+ 25.Kb2 Qc3+ 26.Kxa2 Qxc2+ 27.Ka1 Qc3+ 28.Kb1 Qb3+ 29.Ka1 Qc3+ Draw agreed. True to his creative spirit the Ukrainian came up with a new idea in the opening. Its value is to be determined by detailed analysis and further practice, but the game resulted a very complicated one with a lot of sacrifices and counter-sacrifices, finishing in a draw by perpetual check. Carlsen keeps his leading position and will have our attention tomorrow against Topalov in the featured game. 1/2