Boy meets Beast in Reykjavik

3/19/2004 – It was a dream pairing for the organizers. 13-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen faced legend Garry Kasparov in the first round of this Icelandic rapid knock-out event. The result was predictable but it was closer than you'd think. The game is annotated by Almira Skripchenko.

There are two K's in ReyKjaviK

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It's been over a decade since Garry Kasparov, Nigel Short, and Anatoly Karpov played each other in the same tournament. Now they are reunited for four days in Iceland where they are the top attractions at the Reykjavik Rapid. That is, the top attractions other than 13-year-old Norwegian cherub Magnus Carlsen, who is fresh-faced and fresh off two Grandmaster norm results in two months at Corus and Aeroflot.


Imagine what it felt like for Garry Kasparov to have to defend against this – child!

Carlsen had the chance of a lifetime after the blitz tournament pairing method left him in 15th position, meaning he had second seed Garry Kasparov in the first round of the tournament proper! We don't recall another event using a tournament to determine the pairings for a tournament, but it's certainly more interesting than picking ice-cubes out of a hat. Armenia's Lev Aronian dominated the blitz, including a win over Kasparov. Carlsen made the papers by beating Karpov.

That was pretty much the end of the good news for the Scandinavian participants. Denmark's Nielsen was the only one to survive to the second round. Carlsen pressed Kasparov with white but was held to a draw and then smashed in the second game. The four local participants were swept from the field, including top Icelander and former world championship candidate Johann Hjartson, who lost to Timman. That was the only rating upset of day one, and not much of an upset considering Timman's credentials.

Round one results – Thu. March 18
(Player on left has white in first game. Player in bold advances. Tie matches go to sudden death blitz.)

Helgi Olafsson Levon Aronian
0-1
0-1
Magnus Carlsen Garry Kasparov
½-½
0-1
Igor-Alexander Nataf Emil Sutovsky
0-1
0-1
Margeir Petursson Alexey Dreev
0-1
½-½
Hannes Stefansson Anatoly Karpov
1-0
0-1
Vladimir Epishin Peter Heine Nielsen
0-1
0-1
Johann Hjartarson Jan Timman
0-1
½-½
Nigel Short Stefan Kristjansson
½-½
1-0

Round two pairings – Fri. March 19

Nigel Short Levon Aronian  
Jan Timman Garry Kasparov  
Peter Heine Nielsen Emil Sutovsky  
Anatoly Karpov Alexei Dreev  

Carlsen,M (2484) - Kasparov,G (2831) [D52]
Rapid Reykjavik ISL (1.1), 18.03.2004 [Commentary by Almira Skripchenko]
1.d4 Carlsen probably wants to avoid the Najdorf against Kasparov. 1...d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7. The Botvinnik System, 5...dxc4, is the sharpest line available here. Is Kasparov afraid to play something as dangerous as this against a child who calculates like a computer? 6.e3 Qa5. Kasparov plays the Cambridge Springs, which is not as volatile as the Botvinnik. 7.Nd2 Bb4 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Be2 e5 10.0-0 exd4 11.Nb3 Qb6 12.exd4 dxc4 13.Bxc4 a5.


Carlsen pondering what to play after Kasparov's 13...a5 – Photo © Omar Oskarsson

14.a4 Qc7 15.Rae1 h6 16.Bh4 Bd6 17.h3 Nb6. 17...g5? is met by 18.Qg6+ :-) 18.Bxf6 Nxc4 19.Ne4 Bh2+. 19...Be6 20.Nxd6 Nxd6 is actually better than what happened in the game. 20.Kh1 Nd6 21.Kxh2 Nxe4+ 22.Be5 Nd6 23.Qc5. 23.d5 Rd8 24.Nd4 wins a pawn, because 24...Bd7 loses to 25.Nb5. 23...Rd8 24.d5 Qd7 25.Nd4 Nf5 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.Nxc6 Re8 28.Rd1 Qe6 29.Rfe1 Bb7.

The kid has Kasparov sweating, but he sees that after 30.Nxa5 there are enormous complications arising from 30...Bxg2 When you are a pawn up against the world's strongest player you do not want to give him this kind of counterplay, but rather to simplify the position and win in the endgame: 30.Nd4 Nxd4 31.Qxd4 Qg6 32.Qg4. When you have an extra pawn and opposite colour bishops it is usually better to keep the queens on the board. I would have have played 32.f3. 32...Qxg4 33.hxg4 Bc6 34.b3 f6 35.Bc3 Rxe1 36.Rxe1 Bd5 37.Rb1 Kf7 38.Kg3 Rb8 39.b4 axb4 40.Bxb4 Bc4 41.a5 Ba6 42.f3 Kg6 43.Kf4 h5 44.gxh5+ Kxh5 45.Rh1+ Kg6 46.Bc5 Rb2 47.Kg3 Ra2 48.Bb6 Kf7 49.Rc1 g5.

50.Rc7+. This allows Black to force a quick draw. Maybe Magnus should have tried 50.Bd8! Bb5 51.Rd1 Bc4 52.Rd6 Bf1 53.f4 Rxg2+ 54.Kf3 gxf4 (54...g4+? 55.Ke4 Re2+ 56.Kf5 g3 57.Rxf6+ Ke8 58.Bb6 gives White chances to win) 55.Rxf6+ Ke8 56.Bc7 Ra2 57.Rxf4 Kd7 58.Bb6. This is still a draw, but with a little more suffering for Black. 50...Kg6 51.Rc6 Bf1 52.Bf2 Kasparov was actually lucky to escape with a draw against the 13-year-old Norwegian wunderkind.


Almira Skripchenko, who is visiting us in Hamburg, playing through the Reyjkavik games

In the second game Kasparov simply steamrolled the kid.

Kasparov,G (2831) - Carlsen,M (2484) [E92]
Rapid Reykjavik ISL (1.2), 18.03.2004
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 c6 9.f3 Re8 10.Bf2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.c5 Nc6 13.0-0 Nh5 14.Qd2 Be5 15.g3 Bh3 16.Rfe1 Ng7 17.Rad1 Rc8 18.Ndb5 a6 19.Nd6 Bxd6 20.cxd6 d4 21.Ne4 Bf5 22.d7 Bxd7 23.Bxd4 Nxd4 24.Qxd4 Nf5 25.Qxd7 Qb6+ 26.Kh1 Red8 27.Qa4 Rxd1 28.Qxd1 Qxb2 29.Qb1 Rc2 30.Qxb2 Rxb2 31.Bc4 Nd4 32.Re3 1-0.

Karpov got through in a blitz tiebreaker but he could have ended things earlier. The games are played with 25 minutes and a five second increment. That is supposed to eliminate the worse of the blunders, but then how to explain this? (According to an e-mail from GM Emil Sutovsky it is explained simply by incorrect transmission and recording of the moves in many cases, likely including this game. Our apologies to the players if that is the case. When we get the correct scores we'll post corrections.)

Stefansson - Karpov, game 1 after 47...Qb8

48.Rc2 or 48.Qb1 would have provided the back-rank protection White needs before winning with his passed pawns. Instead, Stefansson blundered with 48.Rb1?? which should have allowed Karpov to escape with a draw after 48...Rd1+ 49.Re1 Rxb1 50.Rxb1 Qd8!.

Karpov missed the draw with 48...R3d5?? and now White should give up the a-pawn to consolidate with 49.Qc2 Rxa5 50.Ree1! and the b-pawn should still be decisive.

But Stefansson saw and raised Karpov's blunder with 49.Qc3??. Now Black should actually win after 49...Rd1+ 50.Re1 Rxb1 51.Rxb1 Rd1+! 52.Rxd1 Qxb7+ 53.Kg1 Qg2 mate.

Instead, Karpov made the final blunder with 49...Rd3?? and resigned after 50.Qc8, when there is no defense.

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stephen brady stephen brady 12/14/2015 05:09
I think that Magnus kid has a bright future ahead of him. Hope he can keep progressing ...
diegoami diegoami 4/10/2017 09:32
Yeah... maybe some day he will be the world champion !
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