Vachier Lagrave - Magnus Carlsen

Round 9
Tata Steel 2011


After the rest day at Tata Steel Chess tournament, not one, but three games will be covered on simultaneously! Live commentary of Anand - Nakamura, Vachier Lagarve - Carlsen, and Li Chao - Wesley So will start at 13:30 CET.

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1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 Carlsen is repeating the Ruy Lopez Berlin defence, which brought him success against Jan Smeets in earlier game here at Tata Steel. This might be a tactical move as Vachier-Lagrave is known as very sharp player who is excelling in calculation.

4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Bd7 Carlsen following the same plan as in the game with Smeets, he is preparing ...Kc8, ...b6 next ...Kb7. Meanwhile, White will probably expand on the kingside, with the moves like h2-h3, g2-g4, Kg2, Nf3 etc

10.h3 b6 11.Bf4 Kc8 12.Rad1 Black might think about redeploying the pieces, with Be6, Ne7... usually preparatory moves like h6 and c5 are included, to take away active squares from White pieces.

12... h6 13.Bh2 a5 14.g4 Ne7 15.Nd4 White is pushing his pawn majority and now it will be interesting to see Black's reply. To continue undermining White queenside with 15...a4 or strike the pawn chain with 15...h5. e5-e6 push is always in the air...

15... h5 16.e6 fxe6 Engines prefer black's position, but human eyes prefer white as it is more active.

17.Rfe1 hxg4 18.hxg4 Note: The Gibraltar Chess Festival with Ivanchuk, Caruana, Adams, Vallejo, Bologan, Sasikiran, Nisipeanu, Georgiev, Harikrishna, Short, Fridman, Roiz, Edouard, Fier, Kosintseva, Stefanova, Korchnoi, Rapport, Harika, and many other top grandmasters is starting. Follow the games here with analysis

18... Rh6 A solid approach, Black defends e6 and is ready to unravel with ...Nd5. Now White has got 2 candidate moves : g4-g5 and Nf3. After the 1st one Black can't really play ...Rg6 in view of f2-f4 next Nf3, or more generally because the Rook would be misplaced. What now if 19.g5 Rh5 20.f4 ? so that White can force the trade of pawns, his g-pawn vs Black's e-pawn. Probably ...Nf5 then, intending 21.Nxe6 Bxe6 22.Rxe6 Bc5+

19.g5 Rh5 20.Nxe6 Bxe6 21.Rxe6 Rxg5+ 22.Kf1 Rf5 After some exchanges Black held the extra pawn, but it is doubled and White has good compensation. Black pieces are also passive and now he should coordinate somehow, to bring the other Rook into play.

23.a4 Rb8 24. Rd3 Rf6 25. Rxf6 gxf6

24.Rd3 Rf7 25.Kg2 White is not in hurry, he will slowly improve the position of his pieces. It is unclear however, how can Black untangle from the unpleasant pressure - maybe give the pawn back for some activity.

25... b5 The mysterious Rb8 move is now getting sense.

26.axb5 cxb5 27.Ra6 27. Nd5 would probably lead to exchanges and a draw. After the game move, Black can still keep the pawn (b4 and Rf5), but there might be some pressure against c7-pawn.

27... b4 Now depending on where the Knight moves, Black can play Rf5 or Rb5.

28.Nd5 28. Ne4 Rb5 29. Ra8+ Kb7 30. Rdd8 Rbf5 hold for Black. 28. Ne2 Rf5 29. Ra7 Rb7...

28... Nxd5 29.Rxd5 b3 29. ... Rb6 30. Raxa5 Rbf6 31. Bg3 Bd6 was another possibility.

30.c3 Ba3!? 31.Re6 Re7 The threat was Re8+ and Rb5+

32.Rxe7 Bxe7 33.Rxa5 Kd7 34.Be5 Bd6 The last ten moves Carlsen is playing with one minute on the clock, but now it should be fairly easy for him to hold the position.

35.Bd4 Bf4 36.Kf3 Bc1 37.c4 g5 38.Ke4 Rf8 39.Rd5+ Kc6 40.Rc5+ Kd7 41.Rd5+ Kc6 42.Rc5+ Kd7 And finally a draw was agreed as the material is very reduced and neither side can make progress. Thank you all for following Chessdom live coverage, see you tomorrow 13:30 CET. ½-½