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Magnus Carlsen - Hikaru Nakamura

Round 8
Tata Steel 2011

23.01.2011

The first, second, third, and fifth at the current standings of Tata Steel 2011 meet in direct battles today. Welcome to the live coverage of Chessdom.com where we will follow for you Carlsen - Nakamura and Anand - Aronian.

All other games with computer analisys at the Chessdom / Chessbomb live games platform

1.e4 c5 Sharp! e4 and Sicilian setup! This certainly has to do with the history of the two players. We are used to seeing Carlsen and Nakamura in epic blitz battles, especially during the BNBank blitz events. Recently more and more often they play at top level closed classical tournaments, and with Nakamura installing steadily into top 10, we will see even more games between the two young talents.

2.Nf3 d6 This is following yesterday's game of Anand which continued 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 (replay game here)

3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Yesterday, Carlsen with white went for 6.g3,not a main line, here Nakamura prefers to follow theory. Other possibilities 6.Bg5, 6.f3, 6.h3, 6.Be2

6... e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 O-O 9.g4 An early g4-g5 push planned by Carlsen!

9... Be6 10.g5 Chasing the knight back to d7. White's pawn on g5 will need support in the rest of the game, so moves like Qd2 or h4 are to be expected. But Carlsen might have a clever plan, how about a Qd2 followed by f4-f5 push? Two wrecked pawn structures on the board will form, while white will have bishop for knight.

10... Nfd7 11.h4 Nb6 In view of the f4-f5 push, Nakamura opens a spot for his bishop.

12.Qd2 Nakamura can now calmly develop a knight N8d7 or even try Nc4 forcing white to exchange the light square bishop. A common move in this position is a6-a5 as well.

12... N8d7 13.f4 The bishop is blocked again by a knight, and this is Carlsen's chance to go with the original plan, f4-f5 pawn push. Of course this will not be allowed by Nakamura, exf4 or even aggressive f5 are possibilities.

13... f4 14.Bxf4 Ne5 Time to castle, white's king does not stand well in the center, as the position is opening.

15.O-O-O Rc8 Another option played before was Qc7, but the idea is the same, pressure on the c file. White can do a prophylactic Kb1 at this moment.

16.Kb1 And now we come to the essence of the sicilian games, a race between white on the kingside and black on the queenside. Interesting game ahead!

16... Qc7 Black now fully controls the c4 square. A knight can move there any moment now. So what to do with the white queen? It certainly will fall in a difficult situation, forsing the light square bishop to be exchanged and leaving few squares for escape. Engines like Stockfish have radical solution: Qc1, making any Nc4 move lose the main point, and still eyeing the diagonal c1-h6. This also preserves the necessary protection of the c2 pawn, freeing the Nc3 knight that can jump to d5.

17.h5 Carlsen is fine with his queen being attacked and exchanging the light squared bishop and trusts in the advanced pawns position. But he might be left with a N vs B situation, and this knight will be far away from supporting these pawns 17. ... Nec4 18. Bxc4 Nxc4 19. Qd4 Na3+ 20. bxa3 Qxc3 21. Qxc3 Rxc3 22. Bxd6 Bxd6 23. Rxd6 Rg3

17... Rfe8 18.Ka1 Escaping the check in the line above, but what happens to the c2 pawn? It is ok if Nd4 is played by white.

18... Bf8 19.Nd4 Qc5 20.g6 Fabiano Caruana commented in the Chessdom / Chessbomb live games platform: "This is very dangerous for black. After Nbc4 Bxc4 Nxc4 gxh7 Kh8 Qd3 I don't see how to continue Black's attack. White will probably continue with h6. After h6 there is an interesting move Bxh6!? but simpler seems gxf7 Bxf7 Nb3 and next Rhg1 with an advantage."

20... Nec4 GM Caruana: "fxg6 hxg6 h6 Nxe6 Rxe6 Bxe5 Rxe5 Qf4 White has a tremendous attack on the light squares with the threat Qf7 Kh8 Qxh6 mating. White also always has ideas of Bxh6!? I expect Bxc4 Nxc4 gxh7 (or Qd3) Kh8 Qd3"

21.Bxc4 Nxc4 22.Qd3 GM Caruana: Magnus decided to wait with gxh7. Now he also has an idea of h6 immediately, not allowing Black to close the kingside. I think Nakamura has a difficult position, but he often finds resources to escape, but I don't see Black's counerplay. White can always play Nb3 covering the only vulnerable square b2. After h6 it isn't easy to continue White's attack. A good try is h6 Nb3 Qc6 Nd5, with a positional advantage. Qg3 is interesting doctor, but I'm not sure how to continue after Kh8. I prefer to wait with gxf7 for the moment. Also possible after h6 is gxf7 Bxf7 Qg3 Kh8 Rhg1 with the idea Nf5 attacking g7. White has many interesting possibilities.

22... fxg6 23.hxg6 h6 GM Caruana: Now it looks interesting to play Nxe6 Rxe6 Nd5, with a very strong outpost. Also the very difficult move 24.Qf1!? is promising, and after Qb4 White continues with Bc1! threatenings Nxe6 and Qf7. If White plays Qf3 Qb4 Bc1, then Black has Ne5, attacking the queen. This is the idea behind Qf1: to avoid the threatening Ne5. However, in practical terms this move is very hard to find. I expect Nxe6 Rxe6 Nd5 from Magnus. The other point behind Qf1 is Nxb2 Nxe6 Qxc3 (Rxe6 Bxd6 wins with similar idea) Be5! wins because next White plays Qf7 and Rxh6. After Qf1! I cannot find a defence for Black. Another line goes Qb4 Bc1 Ne5 Nxe6 Rxe6 Qf5 Rce8 Nd5 with a strong attack.

24.Qg3 GM Caruana: Unfortunately he didn't find Qf1, which would have been the most impressive move of the tournament, but on the other hand I don't think any player is capable of finding such a move

24... Qb6 GM Caruana: Now White should avoid Nb3?! because he needs the option of Nxe6. Of course he has chances to defend this position stopa, but it will be difficult

25.Bc1 GM Caruana: Good move. White's queenside is very secure, and next he will play Nxe6 and Nd5.

25... Qa5 GM Caruana: Qa5 is very strange. Now after Nxe6 Rxe6 Nd5 White's attack looks simply crushing. Black is suffering with a very weak king, passive bishop and the super knight on d5 after Nxe6 Rxe6 Nd5. I think objectively White is winning. That's Black's problem - he can't move because of weak squares around his king like f7 and f6 (after Bxh6)

26.Rdf1 GM Caruana: I'm surprised by this move, which is probably very strong, but allows the additional possibility of Qe5!?

26... Ne5 GM Caruana: Now White can continue again with Nxe6 Rxe6 Nd5. On the other hand, there is the crazy possibility of Nxe6 Rxe6 Rxh6!!? gxh6 Qh3 Rce8 Rxf8 Kxf8 Qxh6 Ke7 b4! Qc7 Nd5 winning the queen, but this line is not very clear in the end and impossible to find for a human. After Nxe6 Rxe6 Nd5 Black can capture on g6, but this gives open lines to White's pieces and very good attacking chances. Qe5 Qf2 Qc5 Rhg1! wins, because of the devastating threat of Bxh6 gxh6 g7

27.Nd5 GM Caruana: Nd5 is a very interesting move, with a beautiful point: Bxd5 exd5 Qxd5 Bxh6!! wins: Qxd4 Be3 Qg4 Rh8 Kxh8 Qh2 wins or Bxh6 gxh6 g7 Bxg7 Nf5 wins. Since Black cannot capture d5, the knight will jump to e6 at some point.

27... Bxd5 28.exd5 Qxd5 29.Bxh6 gxh6 GM Caruana: Most likely Hikaru missed Bxh6, and now there is no hope for Black. If Qxd4 Be3 Qg4 White has the nice winning move Rh8! Kxh8 Qh2 Kg8 Qe7 mate.

30.g7 Be7 31.Rxh6 Nf7 32.Qg6 Nxh6 33.Qxh6 Bf6 34.Qh8+ Kf7 35.g8=Q Rxg8 36.Qxf6+ Ke8 37.Re1 And Magnus Carlsen won the game! Fantastic game by GM Carlsen, who shortens the distance to the tournament leaders Nakamura and Anand. Very interesting rounds expect us to the end of Tata Steel. Thank you for follwoing with us and special thanks to GM Caruana for joining today for live commentary on Chessdom! 1-0