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Daniel Stellwagen - Magnus Carlsen

Round 2
Corus 2009
Wijk Aan Zee

17.01.2009

Welcome to the Chessdom live commentary of Corus 2009! The games to be commented depend on your votes (more info). Submit your vote for round 3 here. Carlsen's game yesterday was quite a show - relatively unexplored opening variation, unorthodox ideas, stunningly unexpected moves and fight till every available resource is tested. Let's see how will he perform against an opponent of lower rating while having Black.Would the Norwegian go for the win at any cost to justify being the favorite in this encounter, or would he play more classically and try to neutralize opponent's White color first and then see if it is possible to look for something more.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 While While Ruy Lopez is not so uncommon in Carlsen's repertoire, the Berlin Defense definitely is.

4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 This line was revived at top level by Kramnik in his match against Kasparov. At first glance Black is technically a pawn down due to the doubled pawns on the queenside but the Bishop pair enables sufficient counterplay.

9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 b6 Well, that is unexpected. The fashion is to follow Kramnik's plan manoeuvring Nf5-e7-g6. In fact the game continuation was tested as well by the Russian 14 months ago in a blitz game against Shirov. There are about 12 games in this position, one of them of Magnus himself.

11.Rd1 ( In the above mentioned blitz game Black managed to make good use of the f1-a6 diagonal: 11.Bf4 Bb4 12.Ne4 Ba6 13.Rfc1 Be2)

11... Bb7 That is a novelty.

12.Bf4 Rc8 Prophylaxis against e5-e6. So this is the idea behind Bc8-b7 - Black takes under control every important square in his half of the board and relies on the long-term power of his Bishop pair.

13.g4 Sooner or later White has to undertake kingside expansion, so Stellwagen decides to go straight for it. If Black had time for Bf8-e7, then Nf5-h4 would be possible to such advance.

13... Ne7 14.e6 The Dutch prefers to free the 'e5' square for his pieces rather than being in a static position. I am not sure if opening diagonals for the Black Bishops is the correct strategy.

14... fxe6 (14... Nd5 was an alternative but Carl;sen did not hesitate at all. Is it still his home preparation?)

15.Ng5 Nd5 Clock readings: 1.15 1.42. Carlsen solved the dilemma from my preview choosing the classical approach and my opinion is that now he may fight to get to advantage.

16.Nxe6 Nxf4 17.Nxf4 Bd6 18.Ne6 ( Stellwagen has to play actively or he'll be simply worse. An interesting line could be 18.Ne6 Kf7 19.Ng5+ Kg6 20.Nce4 Be5 21.Nf3 Bxb2 22.Rd7 and the piece activity allows White to stay in the game.)

18... Kf7 19.Ng5+ Kg6 20.Nce4 Be5 21.Nf3 Bxb2 Both players found necessary to follow the suggested line.

22.Rd7 There has already been created a large gap on the clock: 0.17 1.17! I would suggest once again a possible line, let's see if my guess will be correct once again. (22.Rd7 Bf6 (22... Bxa1 23.Nh4+ Kh6 24.Nf5+ Kg6 25.Nh4+) 23.Nxf6 Kxf6 24.Re1 Rhe8 25.Rxe8 Rxe8 26.g5+ (26.Rxc7 Re7) 26... Kg6 27.Rxc7 Ba8 and it is more pleasant to play Black.)

22... Bf6 23.Nxf6 Kxf6 24.g5+ Kg6 25.Re1 Rhe8 26.Ne5+ After a long period of practically forced moves finally there was an alternative.

26... Kxg5 27.Rxg7+ Kf6 ( Carlsen is not satisfied with 27... Kh6 leading to equality but now he is playing with fire.)

28.Rf7+ Ke6 29.Rxh7 (29.f4 looks more dangerous but White is in time trouble and prefers to play it safer.)

29... Rg8+ 0.04 0.46

30.Ng4+ Kd5 31.Ree7 c5 32.Rxc7 Rxc7 33.Rxc7 Bc8 34.Rxa7 Bxg4 35.hxg4 Rxg4+ 36.Kf1 And draw is agreed. Stellwagen used well his time to find a way to force the game after the opening as if he had waited just one more move Carlsen would get the upper hand. The Norwegian took a great risk playing on his opponents time trouble but nevertheless managed to save the game. 1/2