Magnus Carlsen - Sergey Karjakin

Round 6
Corus 2009
Wijk Aan Zee


After five rounds on the top of the provisional standings is Sergey Karjakin. Carlsen has five draws in a row - I am not sure if that is not his personal record. Today he has to give a real fight if he aspires to win the tournament. Both payers are at the same age and it could be seen that they are destined to be top chess stars yet when they were about 13. The talented Ukrainian was the first to enter top level events but the last two years Magnus progressed more rapidly. The game is not only a direct clash for the tournament title but as well a duel between the two most distinguished top players from the new generation. Would Carlsen bet on the solid 1.d4 and try to fight for advantage against the super solid Slav Defense or has he prepared something against the Najdorf where Karjakin is one of the greatest experts at the moment? I would say 1.d4 but the Norwegian is unpredictable in his home preparation. Stay tune at 13.30 CET. vote for round 7 live games

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 Slav Defense it is! During the first minute there were errors in the translation and to my surprise on the board was a position from Queen's Gambit Declined - well, then things came back to normal.

4.e3 Back to the system chosen against Movsesian three rounds ago.

4... a6 An alternative to the most popular 4...Bf5 and the fashionable 4...Bg4.

5.Bd3 Bg4 6.Nbd2 Nbd7 A game of Karjakin from the Olympics in Dresden a couple of months ago is being followed.

7.Qc2 Getting away from the pin, else Black could play e7-e5.

7... e6 8.O-O White choses a system in which he completes his development first, then looks for a way to decide the situation in the center.

8... dxc4 ( Supposed improvement upon the above mentioned game /Roiz - Karjakin,Dresden 2008/, where 8... Be7 was chosen.)

9.Bxc4 ( It is tempting to capture with the Knight but the pawn structure will suffer some damage. 9.Nxc4 Bxf3 10.gxf3 and Black is anyway prepared to trade this Bishop in Slav Defense so getting a pair of Bishops here is no great achievement.)

9... Be7 10.e4 O-O White has space advantage but Black managed to secure suitable squares for all of his pieces so that is not so important as in other positions.

11.Bd3 h6 12.e5 attacking at 'h7' was the immediate threat.

12.h3 ( Doesn't force Bxf3 as the Bishop is not in immediate danger: 12.h3 Bh5 13.e5 Nd5 14.g4 Nb4 15.Bh7+ Kh8 16.Qb1 f5 and Black is fine.)

12... Bh5 13.e5 Seems a bit preliminary to me but Carlsen should have something in mind.

13... Nd5 14.g4 ( The position after 14.Bg6 Bxg6 15.Qxg6 Nf4 16.Qe4 is very complicated but as 16... Nxh3+ is risky, Black still has to prove his compensation for the pawn. But what about 14...Nb4?)

14... Nb4 15.Bh7+ Kh8 16.Qb1 f5 Did Magnus miss this possibility making his move 13.e5 or he just has a deeper insight in the resulting position?

17.exf6 Nxf6 18.gxh5 Nxh7 19.Ne5 Those moves were practically forced after 13.e5 as the other alternatives were far inferior to either player.Now Karjakin has a variety of possibilities. An exchange sacrifice seems very attractive: (19.Ne5 Ng5 20.Ng6+ Kg8 21.Nxf8 Bxf8 22.Ne4 Nf3+ 23.Kg2 Nxd4 and Black has all the light squares under control.)

19... Kg8 The Ukrainian is obviously satisfied with his position and prefers to play solid move. Still there is the question doesn't he miss the opportunity to fight for clear advantage?

20.Qg6 ( The exact move. Now 20.Qg6 Ng5 may be met by 21.Ne4)

20... Rf6 (20... Nf6 planning Qd8-e8 makes sence as well.)

21.Qg4 Ng5 22.Ndc4 Nd5 Karjakin consolidates his pieces on important central squares hoping that that the weaknesses of the White pawn structure will tell in the long run.

23.h4 This Knight is anyway heading towards f5 - Ng5-f7-d6-f5, so chasing him away achieves nothing.

23... Nf7 24.Kh1 The 'g' file is the only source of counterplay for Carlsen.

24... Bf8 It is always good to have the weak points protected in advance, of course if the are no other urgent matters.

25.Be3 Ne7 Black had a number of good moves - 25...Qe8 to start with - but this one seems like a blunder: (25... Ne7 26.Nb6 Qxb6 27.Nd7)

26.Nb6 Played in a split second.

26... Ra7 Pathetic position for a Rook but what else?

27.Ned7 (27.Nbd7 Rf5 28.Nxf8 Qxf8 29.Nd7 Qd8 30.Rg1 is more aggressive as it is an attempt to go for the Black monarch but keeping the Rook stranded on 'a7' is very tempting.)

27... Rf5 28.Rg1 Nd5 Seems like another mistake

29.Nxd5 ( Black situation could become critical in case of 29.Nxf8 Kxf8 (29... Qxf8 30.Nd7 Nf6 31.Qxf5) 30.Qxg7+ Ke7 31.Bxh6 Qxb6 32.Qf8+ Kd7 33.Rg7 Ne7 34.Rxf7 Rxf7 35.Qxf7) Once again the server at Coruschess is experiencing translation problems.

29... Rxd5 30.Nxf8 Qxf8 31.Rg3 Ra8 32.Rag1 Kh8 Clock readings: 0.18 0.11

33.Qxe6 White is definitely better but his compromised pawn structure creates certain problems as Black may save some ending even being a couple of pawns down.

33... Rxh5 (33... Re8 was to be preferred.)

34.Qg4 g6 35.d5 ( Oops! 35.Qxg6 Rxh4+ 36.Kg2 followed by d4-d5 and Bd4 should win convincingly. Now Black suddenly is back in the game.)

35... Ne5 36.Bd4 Qf6 After Karjakin blundered the 26.Nb6 move he went on making mistakes and it seemed that won't be able to offer any resistance but the time trouble made Carlsen commit an error that may deprive him of the win. Time 0.03 0.06 (36... Qf6 37.Bxe5 Qxe5 38.dxc6 bxc6 39.Qxg6 Rxh4+ 40.Kg2 Qd5 41.Kf1 Qd1+ 42.Kg2 Qd5+ with perpetual.)

37.Bxe5 Qxe5 Once again the server is down.

38.dxc6 bxc6 39.Rd1 Carlsen is looking for a way to keep fighting.

39... Rg8 40.Qd4 Qxd4 41.Rxd4 g5 42.Rc3 Rf8 This ending should be draw but Black needs to demonstrate some accuracy.

43.Kg1 Rf6 44.hxg5 Rxg5+ 45.Kf1 Kg7 46.Rdc4 Carlsen is using the weak queenside Black pawns to create some pressure.

46... Ra5 47.a3 Rb5 48.Rc2 Rd6 49.a4 Rb6 The drawing tendencies in Rook endings are well known fact. Would the Norwegian be able to come up with something thanks to the minor positional pluses he achieving?

50.b4 a5 It is good to get rid of your weaknesses - sometimes even sacrificing them.

51.bxa5 Ra6 52.Rg4+ Kf7 53.Rc5 Rd5 54.Rgc4 Rxa5 55.Rxc6 Little by little Carlsen gets more advantages but let's have in mind Tartakover's statement that any Rook ending should be drawn.

55... Rd1+ 56.Ke2 Ra1 57.Rf4+ Ke7 58.Rcc4 White has already got a healthy pawn up but that is still not sufficient.

58... h5 59.Rb4 Ra2+ 60.Kf3 Ra3+ 61.Kg2 Ke6 62.Rbe4+ Kd6 Karjakin is just waiting for his opponent to demonstrate some plan.

63.f3 Ra2+ 64.Kh3 Ra1 65.Rd4+ Ke6 66.Rb4 Rg5 Threatening mate in 1!

67.Rfe4+ Kf6 68.Rf4+ Ke6 69.Rb6+ Ke7 70.Rb2 Rh1+ 71.Rh2 Ra1 72.Kh4 Rg8 73.Rd4 Carlsen is desperately trying to break Black resistance.

73... Kf6 74.Rf4+ Ke5 75.Rb4 Kf5 76.Kh3 Ra3 77.Rf2 Ra8 78.Rb5+ Kf4 79.Rxh5 Rxf3+ Draw agreed. What a fight! Carlsen was very dedicated to win this game. After the opening he had no advantage at all and decided to unbalance the game. That resulted in an objectively worse for him position. His persistence was rewarded when Karjakin missed one of the tactical traps prepared by the Norwegian. Unfortunately for Magnus, he played inaccurately in the time trouble a missed the winning continuation. Then, in completely equal ending, he was pressing for 3 more hours but his progress proved to be insufficient. 1/2