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Magnus Carlsen - Vassily Ivanchuk

Round 6
Grand Slam Final
Bilbao

09.09.2008

The tournament turned into a race between Topalov and Carlsen, while the rest fell far behind. The Norwegian is trying very hard to win every game and he does it in spectacular way. After defeating Aronian yesterday he is a point ahead of Topalov. While this event is going great for him, his opponent is on the opposite side. Ivanchuk is among the players without a single win and his play lacks the usual creativity. His score with Carlsen is quite bad so I am curious would he be able to put on a real fight, or would try to equalize as Black targeting for a point - draw her is 1 point - from this encounter. Let's hope for the former, as then will be able to enjoy an interesting game between two of the most original players at the moment.

1.d4 Against player with such a variety of openings in his repertoire as Ivanchuk, Carlsen chose the first move he is more familiar with.

1... Nf6 2.c4 e6 ( This time the Ukrainian refrained from 2... g6)

3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 Following the anti-Magnus recipe demonstrated by Topalov.

5.Bf4 And the Norwegian deviates.

5... O-O 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.a3 Qa5 10.O-O-O (10.Nd2 has its merits, but this tournament Magnus' play is sharper than ever.)

10... Be7 The opponents are following the main line in the 5.Bf4 system.

11.h4 Rd8 12.Nd2 Ivanchuk had already spent half an hour, while Carlsen doesn't waste time - he just follows the games of one of his coaches - Nielsen.

12... a6 ( An year ago in Topalov-Kramnik, Corus 2007, Black managed to hold the ending after 12... dxc4 13.Nxc4 Rxd1+ 14.Qxd1 Qd8 15.Qxd8+ Nxd8 , but Ivanchuk doesn't seem to be willing to test Carlsen's technique.) ( Now White may choose between 13.g4 and 12... a6 13.Nb3 Qb6 14.c5 Qa7 15.Bc7)

13.Be2 ( Nielsen won a game in the Championship of Denmark 2008 after 13.g4 but this is a reasonable alternative, if 13... b5 is not as dangerous as it seems.)

13... b5 Without hesitation the Ukrainian starts fighting for the initiative. Did Carlsen miss that move or am I missing something? After he spends so much time calculating the consequences of the pawn sacrifice, it may be assumed that it surprised him.

14.cxd5 (14.cxb5 axb5 gives Black excellent prospects on the queenside, while central pawns restrict White's counterplay. It's prudent to keep closed the 'b' file.)

14... exd5 15.g4 Having in mind how sharp the position is, and that only 15 moves are made, time trouble is to be expected. Clock readings: 0.44 0.31

15... Be6 16.Nb3 Qb6 17.g5 Ne4 Ivanchuk won the fight for the central squares and has better chances.

18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.Rxd8+ ( The strongest recapture is with the Queen 19.Rxd8+ Qxd8 threatening Qd5 and after 20.Rd1 Qf8 21.Kb1 Rc8)

19... Nxd8 20.Kb1 Rc8 21.Qd1 (21.Qxe4 was losing: 21... Bxb3 22.Qxe7 Qc6 23.e4 Ne6)

21... Nc6 22.h5 Trying to exploit the temps lost by Ivanchuk - Nc6xd8-c6.

22... a5 Time 0.30 0.11

23.g6 a4 24.Nd2 After he missed 13...b5, Carlsen is playing only the best moves. Nevertheless his position is difficult.

24... b4 25.gxf7+ Bxf7 26.Nc4 Qb7 With every move Black augments his advantage, but would he be able to go on flawlessly in spite of the time trouble: 0.22 0.06

27.Qxa4 bxa3 28.Nxa3 Bxa3 29.Qxa3 Nb4 Now Carlsen is simply lost.

30.b3 Nd3 31.Bxd3 exd3 32.Rc1 d2 Carlsen resigned. After missing 13...b5 he defended inventively, but Ivanchuk made a great game and reminded why is N.2 in FIDE rating list. 0-1