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Magnus Carlsen - Teimour Radjabov

Round 4
Grand Slam Final
Bilbao

05.09.2008

Carlsen lost yesterday and there is a new leader in the tournament - Topalov. The Norwegian is a point behind but with 3 point for a win that's easy to compensate. It is interesting what will be his approach to today's game: being cautious after the loss, but that is hardly a way to beat the solid Azeri, or go for the win at any cost. Radjabov experienced no problems up to now during the first three rounds. Nevertheless he needs to be a bit more aggressive, having in mind that those draws value only 1 point each, if he aspires for the top places. There is every chance that there is going to be a full-blooded battle in this game, let's hope the players don't prove me wrong. Parallel to this game you can follow the commentary of Topalov - Anand, the encounter between two world champions.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 A bit of a surprise - Carlsen opened with 1.e4 while Radjabov opted for the very line Magnus is playing as Black lately - Sicilian Defense, Dragon variation.

6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 The 11...Rb8 line gained popularity only recently and Carslen is a bit surprised as he starts thinking for more than 10 minutes.

12.Kb1 As Black is planning b7-b5 followed by Nc4, this move has to be played at some moment anyway.

12... b5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.Ka1 The idea is to defend 'b2' with a Rook and avoid debilitating White King's position. Anyway, this looks a bit artificial.

15... h5 16.Rb1 Qa5 17.Bh6 A necessary exchange, else the pressure over the a1-h8 diagonal may become very unpleasant later.

17... Bxh6 18.Qxh6 Rb6 19.g4 Apart from this pawn sacrifice, White has no other prospects.

19... hxg4 ( Intending after 19... hxg4 20.h5 to slow down the attack by 20... g5)

20.Qe3 Obviously Magnus is playing for "all or nothing". Somehow such sharp positions are usually associated with Radjabov's play style.

20... Rfb8 ( Blocking the 'h' pawn by 20... Qh5 is too passive.)

21.h5 g5 (21... Nxh5 seems perfectly playable as well: 22.fxg4 Bxg4 23.Rh4 Bd7 24.Nd5 Ra6 25.a3 c3 26.Qxc3 (26.Nxc3 Qxa3+) 26... Qxc3 with a healthy pawn up.)

22.fxg4 Nxg4 23.Qd2 f6 Standard defensive setup.

24.Nf3 The first photos from the game Carlsen - Radjabov are available in the Chessdom photo gallery White cannot claim sufficien compensation for the sacrificed pawn but the position is very complicated. At some moments even breakthrough like e4-e5 is to be considered.

24... Ra6 Sentencing Nc3 to stay on his square else 'a2' would be vulnerable.

25.Rhg1 The clock may play significant role in this game: 0.27 0.27 ( Black has a tactical trick at his disposal: 25.Rhg1 Rb4 threatening double capture on 'a2' followed by Rb4-a4 mate. Anyway after 26.a3 Rb8 27.e5 White manages to create counterplay.)

25... Rb4 26.a3 ( The only way to stop e4-e5 is 26.a3 Bc8 and if 27.e5 ,then 27... dxe5 28.Nxg5 Ra4)

26... Be6 ( After this normally looking move the breakthrough e4-e5 gains in strength, as 26... Be6 27.e5 dxe5 28.Nxg5 Ra4 29.Qc1 Rax3+ 30.bxa3 Qxc3+ 31.Ka2 attacks the Be6 and White is winning because of this temp.) Meanwhile, the time trouble is approaching rapidly: 0.19 0.14

27.e5 dxe5 ( The prudent 27... Kh8 is better.)

28.Nxg5 White now definitely has compensation. Though Black King seems well protected behind the central pawns, he may fall an easy prey because of the abundant tactical possibilities.

28... Bf5 The best move. Clock readings: 0.14 0.07

29.Nge4 Kh7 Using opponent's pawn as a cover.

30.Qe2 (30.Rg3 reinforcing the 3rd rank is a strong alternative.)

30... Nh6 31.Rg3 Forcing 31...Rb8

31... Be6 ( Decisive error in the time trouble. After 31... Be6 32.Qg2 no defense is to be seen. Time: 0.03 0.03)

32.Rg6 Nf5 (32... Bf5)

33.Qg4 Nh4 34.Ng5+ fxg5 35.Qxg5 Nxg6 36.Qxg6+ Kh8 37.Rg1 Black resigned. Great show performed by the two young talents. Both were fighting for the win only, having no fear. After the opening Radjabov got the upper hand - and a pawn - but Carlsen cleverly found counterplay and after the careless 26...Be6 and 27...de5 took the initiative over. The second time Be6 was played, he launched an unstoppable attack and scored the win. That still keeps him only a point behind Topalov and the tournament is far from decided. 1-0