Bilbao Masters – Carlsen beats Ivanchuk and ties for first

10/11/2011 – One could hardly ask for more drama than what transpired in the ninth round. It started with Anand completely losing focus in his game against Aronian, and losing in a mere 25 moves. Carlsen built a fantastic attack against Ivanchuk, beat him and is now tied for first, but the shocker was Nakamura's loss on time against Vallejo. Report, pictures, video, and annotations by GM Romain Edouard.

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The first leg of the Grand Slam was staged in São Paulo, Ibirapuera Park, from September 25th to October 1st, the second leg takes place in Bilbao, Alhóndiga, from 5th to 11th October. Tournament system: double round robin with six players over ten rounds. Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 60 minutes + 10 seconds/move starting with the first move. Games begin at 16:00h local Spanish time (10 a.m. New York, 18:00h Moscow).

Round nine

Round 9: Monday, October 10, 16:30h
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Viswanathan Anand


Carlsen arriving at the venue with his father

The round had had all the promise of drama with Magnus Carlsen facing the leader Vasily Ivanchuk, and the promise of catching up with him should he win. That said, the first sign, the round was going to be atypical was when Anand capitulated after just 25 moves when his game collapsed after a couple of errors.


Anand was not all there as his position imploded shortly after he had equalized

Although there was talk of comebacks when both he and Carlsen were trailing the pack after four rounds, this will not be one of them from the World Champion. He can avoid last if he beats Vallejo tomorrow, but that aside, it seems clear that the approaching World Championship match against Gelfand is what is foremost on his mind.


Carlsen studies the World Champion's position against Aronian


Aronian describes the game to Spanish journalist Leontxo García

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Brazil"] [Date "2011.10.10"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D24"] [WhiteElo "2807"] [BlackElo "2817"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] [TimeControl "40/5400+10:3600+10"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bxc4 Nxe4 7. O-O {First surprise!} Nf6 ({Normally people go} 7... Nxc3 8. bxc3 Be7 {which is supposed to be fine for Black.}) 8. Qa4+ Nc6 9. Bg5 $1 $146 (9. Ne5 {was the usual move, but after} Rb8 $1 {Black was fine in Halkias-Fressinet (2010).}) 9... Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. d5 exd5 12. Rfe1+ Be6 13. Bxd5 (13. Ba6 $1 {was simply strong in my opinion: I don't know how Black should defend. Of course White isn't winning, as Black can go either ...bxa6 and ...Kf8, or ...0-0 and ...Be7 (to sac the exchange) which only gives White a small yet stable plus. Aronian probably judged the move insufficient, but I think it may be best, since Black was just fine at some point in the game, in my opinion.}) 13... O-O 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Rad1 {An interesting try... but the more I look at it, the more I prefer my 13.Ba6!} (15. Rxe6 {should be slightly better for White "by default", due to the pawn structure and better activity, but after something like} Qd7 16. Re2 Kh8 {it should of course not be a big deal at all.}) 15... Qe8 (15... Qe7 {first made sense: what is White supposed to do here? Anyway, Black's queen will go to f7, and 16.Nd5 is just equal. So why not win a tempo just in case 16.Ne4 is played?} 16. Qb3 (16. Nd5 Qf7 17. Nxf6+ Qxf6 $11) 16... Rad8 $1 17. Qxb7 Nd4 {and Black has enough counterplay to compensate for his pawn structure.}) 16. Ne4 (16. Qb3 Rd8 (16... Qf7 $5 17. Qxb7 Nd4 {is also possible. }) 17. Qxb7 Nd4 {is unclear.}) 16... Qe7 $6 (16... Rd8 $1 17. Qb3 Qf7 18. Qxb7 Nd4 {was again the way: Black has good counterplay.}) 17. Qb3 Rab8 $6 {Black is being too passive. He should go ...Rd8 at some point. But from a human point of view it is probably extremely difficult to sac the b7 pawn: Black's structure becomes extremely ugly as a result. In fact, it is possibly only at home that one can to evaluate whether ...Nd4 will give enough counterplay. Or maybe Anand evaluated correctly but felt that passive play was enough to equalize. Difficult to say! But in Bilbao everyday somebody loses for being too passive! This round was Anand's turn...} (17... Rad8 {should be played, again. Though Black lost some tempi, he should hold:} 18. Qxb7 Nd4 19. Neg5 $5 Rb8 20. Qxa7 Ra8 $1 21. Qb7 Rfb8 22. Qe4 Nxf3+ 23. Nxf3 Rxa2 $11) 18. Nxf6+ Rxf6 19. Ng5 {Now Black is under pressure.} Qb4 $6 {Not accurate, since it seems Black has to play ...g6 on the next move, which is not good news.} (19... Kh8 {seems quite logical, but somehow Black needs to play ...Nd4 in good circumstances in order to equalize at some point, which he is unable to do:} 20. Rc1 (20. Re3 $5) 20... Qd7 21. Nxe6 Nd4 22. Nc5 $1 {and White is still quite dominating thanks to his space advantage.}) 20. Qc2 Rg6 $6 {Too artificial, but of course playing 20...g6 is a very unpleasant choice.} (20... g6 21. Re4 Qe7 22. Rde1 e5 (22... Nd8 23. h4 {is very unpleasant for Black who is just defending.}) 23. f4 Rf5 24. b4 $1 {and Black's position looks simply bad.}) (20... Rh6 $2 21. Rxe6 $18) 21. Re4 Qa5 (21... Qe7 {should be the only move, but of course after something like} 22. h4 Rd8 23. Rd3 Rxd3 24. Qxd3 Qd8 25. Qb3 {Black has huge problems.}) 22. h4 {Now it gets disastrous.} Re8 23. Rd7 h6 24. b4 $5 (24. Re3 $18) 24... Qf5 (24... Qb5 25. a4 Nxb4 26. Qxc7 Nd5 27. axb5 Nxc7 28. Nf3 Nxb5 29. Ne5 Rf6 30. Rg4 $18) 25. Rxe6 $1 {Of course a terrible tournament for the World Champion, but let's not forget how difficult it is to play somewhere just months before a World Championship match!} 1-0


Magnus Carlsen

Though both Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura were tied for second behind Ivanchuk after their round eight wins, Carlsen had an extra strong opportunity as he was paired aainst him this round, and a victory would mean catching up with the Ukrainian.


Carlsen came out of his den roaring

As he has often demonstrated in the past, these moments usually bring out the best in the young number one, and this critical game was no exception. Ivanchuk played an aggressive f5 setup in his Nimzo-Indian against Carlsen, but the Norwegian was up to the task with a d5 that split Black's position in two. The game continued with an inspired attack that seemed destined to end quickly, but Ivanchuk was not ready to give in so quickly, and surprised Magnus with some extremely resourceful defense that came close to being enough, but not quite.

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Brazil"] [Date "2011.10.10"] [Round "9.3"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E21"] [WhiteElo "2823"] [BlackElo "2765"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] [TimeControl "40/5400+10:3600+10"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. Qc2 Bb7 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 Ne4 8. Qc2 f5 9. g3 Nf6 10. Bh3 $146 O-O 11. O-O a5 (11... Be4 {is natural, but after} 12. Qc3 Qe8 {I like the funny move} 13. Rd1 $5 {in order to answer} Qh5 {with} 14. Bf1 $1 {followed by some knight move, and never putting the bishop on g2. Somehow, it looks like White got a good version of the normal lines.}) 12. Rd1 Qe8 13. d5 $1 Na6 14. Bf4 {The most natural, but maybe not the most accurate, for some deep reason.} (14. Be3 Qh5 15. Bg2 exd5 16. Bd4 $1 $14) 14... exd5 $2 (14... Qh5 15. Bg2 exd5 16. Nd4 (16. cxd5 Bxd5 17. Rxd5 $1 Nxd5 18. Ne5 Nxf4 19. gxf4 d6 20. Bf3 Qe8 $8 21. Qc4+ Kh8 22. Bxa8 dxe5 23. Bc6 Qg6+ 24. Bg2 Nc5 25. b4 Ne6 26. fxe5 f4) (16. Be5 d4 $1 17. Bxd4 Nc5 {is not so clear: this is the reason why I prefer 14.Be3.}) 16... g5 $1 17. Bc1 f4 $1 18. gxf4 Nc5 $1 19. Nf5 (19. Nb5 Rae8 20. f3 g4 {is good for Black.}) 19... Rae8 20. Ng3 Qh4 {and it looks like White should take a draw with Nf5-Ng3. Of course White has some other moves before, but it seems like the position after ...g5! and ...f4! is just unclear.}) 15. Bxf5 dxc4 $6 (15... Kh8 16. Ng5 h6 17. Nf3 {is already much better for White.}) 16. Ng5 Qh5 17. Rxd7 (17. Rd4 {is also very good, according to the computer: White wants to play Bd2 or Bc1 and then Rh4. For instance:} Rae8 18. Bd2 Rxe2 19. Rh4 Qxg5 20. Bxh7+ Kf7 21. Bxg5 Rxc2 22. Bxc2 $18) 17... Kh8 (17... Nxd7 $2 18. Bxh7+ Kh8 19. Bg6 $18) 18. Re7 $6 {Not the best, but definitely the most human. It seems Magnus admitted to have missed Ivanchuk's queen sac on move 21. This would explain why he played 18.Re7 and didn't try to check 18.Rad1 deeper (which was a very difficult move anyway).} ( 18. Rad1 $1 {wins a brillant way:} Nxd7 (18... Rae8 19. g4 $1 Qh4 (19... Nxg4 20. Rxg7 $1 Kxg7 21. Rd7+ $18) 20. Nf7+ Rxf7 21. Rxf7 $18) (18... Bc8 19. Nf7+ $1 Kg8 20. Nh6+ $1 Kh8 (20... gxh6 21. Qxc4+ Kh8 22. Rxh7+ Nxh7 23. Be5+ Nf6 24. Bxf6+ Rxf6 25. Rd8+ $18) 21. g4 $1 Qe8 22. Nf7+ $1 Kg8 23. Qxc4 $18) 19. Rxd7 Nc5 20. Re7 Rad8 21. f3 Bd5 22. Qc3 Rf6 23. Qe5 $18) 18... Nd5 $8 {The only move.} 19. Bg4 Qg6 20. Nf7+ Kg8 21. Bf5 Qxf5 $8 {Nice defense by Ivanchuk. But not enough to hold.} 22. Qxf5 Nxe7 23. Nh6+ gxh6 24. Qg4+ Ng6 25. Bxh6 Rf7 26. Rd1 {The position is anyway very difficult for Black, of course.} Re8 27. h4 Nc5 28. h5 Bc8 29. Qxc4 Ne5 30. Qh4 Nc6 $2 {The final mistake. White's rook comes into the play!} (30... Ne6 {seems like the only move, but after} 31. f4 ( 31. Rd5 $6 Rf5 {is less clear.}) 31... Nd7 32. Rd3 $1 {(White wants to play Re3)} (32. e4 Kh8 $1 {is less clear.}) 32... Ng7 33. e4 $1 {it seems White is much better, since} Rxe4 $2 {loses to} 34. Bxg7 Kxg7 35. Qd8 $18) 31. Rd5 $1 Ne6 32. Qc4 Ncd8 33. Qg4+ Ng7 34. Qxc8 {Oops!} 1-0

As a result, Carlsen has now tied Ivanchuk for first, and should they be tied at the end, a blitz match is planned to break the tie.


Vallejo has certainly had a strange tournament, and has a chance to walk away with
the right to brag that he beat the world number one, and came ahead of the World Champion.

Nakamura was also in an identical position to wrestle for first prize, and his ninth round opponent was Vallejo, theoretically an easier stepping stone. The game was a King's Indian in which he had a cramped position, which he hoped to give him leeway to outplay his opponent. Vallejo seemed to be doing very well, but gradually lost his grip on the position and both reached the last ten moves very short on time. When Vallejo completed his 40th move, it was a shock to online spectators to learn that Nakamura had overstepped his time, and had lost. What had happened? How was that possible?

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Brazil"] [Date "2011.10.10"] [Round "9.1"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E94"] [WhiteElo "2716"] [BlackElo "2753"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] [TimeControl "40/5400+10:3600+10"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7 {A side-line. Nakamura is a fighter! Ok, everyone knows it.} 7. Be3 e5 8. O-O Re8 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. b4 c6 11. c5 Nh5 $146 12. Nd2 Nf4 13. Nc4 Nxe2+ 14. Qxe2 Qe7 15. Rab1 Nf8 16. Nd6 Rd8 {Black is slightly worse, but these kinds of positions are not at all easy to break with White.} 17. Na4 (17. b5 $5 Ne6 18. Rfd1 Nd4 19. Qd3 { is one way to play. White is better, but I don't know how much.}) 17... Ne6 18. Nb2 b5 19. a4 a6 20. Ra1 Rb8 21. axb5 axb5 22. Ra3 (22. Nd3 {with the idea of facing} Nf4 {with} 23. Bxf4 exf4 24. e5 $1 {is a decent idea, and after} Bf5 $1 25. Ra6 (25. Nxf5 gxf5 {breaks Black's pawn structure but also solves many of his problems: White doesn't have much advantage here.}) 25... Bxd3 26. Qxd3 Qxe5 27. Rxc6 Bf8 28. Rd1 {White is surely a bit better, but Black should get a draw, by playing ...Rd7 & ...Rbd8 and taking on ...d6 at some well chosen point.}) 22... Nf4 23. Qd2 Be6 24. g3 Nh5 $6 (24... Nh3+ 25. Kg2 Nf4+ $1 { seems like a draw:} 26. Kh1 (26. gxf4 Qh4 $11) 26... Nh3 {and White should repeat or some ...f5 moves are coming. Difficult to say if Nakamura missed this line or deliberately chose not to play it.}) 25. Rfa1 Nf6 26. Bg5 Qf8 { Here White seems much better, but actually he needs to be very precise.} 27. Bxf6 $6 {Too early.} (27. Qd3 {looks great, but after} h6 (27... Rd7 28. Ra6 $16) 28. Bxf6 Bxf6 29. Ra6 Be7 30. Rxc6 Bd7 {somehow it looks like Black more or less holds:} 31. Rca6 (31. Rc7 Bxd6 32. Qxd6 Qxd6 33. cxd6 Rb6 34. Nd3 Rxd6 35. Nxe5 Bh3 36. f3 Rd2 37. Nxf7 Rg2+ 38. Kh1 Ra2 $1 39. Nxh6+ Kf8 40. Rcc1 Rb2 {should be drawn.}) 31... Bc8 32. Ra8 Bxd6 33. cxd6 Rb6 (33... Rxd6 $4 34. Rxb8 $18 {The deep point of playing Qd3 first: the queen is protected.}) 34. d7 $1 Rxd7 35. Rc1 (35. Qc3 Rd8 36. Rd1 Re8 37. f3 Bh3 38. Rxe8 Qxe8 39. Nd3 Rd6 $11) 35... Rxd3 36. Rcxc8 Rd2 $1 {(a lucky move!)} 37. Rxf8+ Kg7 38. Rg8+ Kf6 $1 { and Black should escape.}) (27. Qc2 $5 {should simply be the best:} h6 (27... Ra8 28. Ra5 {and Black is still under huge pressure.}) 28. Bxf6 Bxf6 29. Nd3 Be7 30. Nxe5 Bxd6 31. cxd6 (31. Nxc6 Bc7 32. f4 {is maybe good too, due to Black's bishop passivity.}) 31... Rxd6 32. Qc5 {and White is definitely slightly better.}) 27... Bxf6 28. Nd3 (28. Ra6 Be7 29. Rxc6 Bd7 {is fine for Black for the same reasons that 27.Qd3 was (as the d2-queen is not protected like on d3, it is actually even easier for Black!).}) 28... Be7 29. Nxe5 Bxd6 30. cxd6 Rxd6 31. Qc3 Rbd8 {Now Black is definitely alright!} 32. h4 Qe8 33. Ra6 f6 34. Nf3 Bg4 35. Qb3+ Kh8 36. Nh2 $2 (36. Qe3 $1 Rd3 37. Qf4 Bxf3 38. Qxf6+ Kg8 39. Ra7 Rd1+ 40. Kh2 Qf8 41. Qe6+ Kh8 42. Rf7 $5 (42. Qe5+ Kg8 $11) 42... Qd6 43. Qxd6 R8xd6 44. Ra8+ Rd8 45. Rxd8+ Rxd8 46. Rxf3 Rd4 $11) 36... Qxe4 {Strange!} (36... Rd1+ {just wins a pawn:} 37. Nf1 $8 (37. Rxd1 $2 Rxd1+ 38. Nf1 Be2 $19) 37... Qxe4 (37... Be2 $2 38. Qc2 $11) 38. Rxd1 Rxd1 39. Ra8+ Kg7 40. Ra7+ Rd7 {and Black is up a big pawn, and a probably winning position.} ) 37. Nxg4 Qxg4 38. Qf7 Qf3 39. Rf1 Rd1 40. Ra1 {Drama! Everyone knows the rest.} (40. Ra1 R1d7 {and Black is up a pawn, with all the winning chances on his side.}) 1-0


The result that shocked spectators no less than the players themselves

After the game, Nakamura explained that in time trouble, he had looked at the arbiter and asked whether 40 moves had been played. He was unaware this was not allowed, having asked this during his previous game against Ivanchuk. The arbiter nodded his head up and down, which he took to mean the 40th move had been reached, and relaxed. When his flag fell, and he was informed he had lost, he was extremely upset.


A dazed Nakamura still having trouble believing it himself


The appeal

He immediately filed an appeal which is to be examined by the appeals committee. Though he will have White against Carlsen in the last round, the question remains whether he will be able to shake the incident off sufficiently to fight his best.


A video report of round nine courtesy of liveteleshows & Vijay Kumar

Pictures by Pascal Simon 


Bilbao scoring crosstable after nine rounds

Traditional crosstable after nine rounds

Schedule and results

Round 1: Monday, September 26, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Round 2: Tuesday, September 27, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Round 3: Wednesday, September 28, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk 
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 4: Friday, September 30, 15:00h
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Games Report
Round 5: Saturday, October 1, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Games Report
Round 6: Thursday, October 6, 16:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Hikaru Nakamura
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 7: Friday, October 7, 16:00h
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen 
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Round 8: Saturday, October 8, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Hikaru Nakamura 
1-0
 Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Round 9: Monday, October 10, 16:30h
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Viswanathan Anand
Round 10: Tuesday, October 11, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Levon Aronian
Viswanathan Anand 
   Francisco Vallejo
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Magnus Carlsen 
GamesReport

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