Magnus Carlsen wins with the Alekhine

2/21/2008 – In the fifth round of the Morelia tournament the participants continued to please the spectators with entertaining chess, which resulted in two wins for Black and two draws. No boring openings, no "lazy" draws, but rare openings like the Janisch gambit and, in round five, the Alekhine Defense. We are witnessing a highly exciting and interesting tournament. GM Dorian Rogozenko analyses.

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Morelia-Linares 2008

The following express commentary was provided by Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenko, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Rogozenko will study the games of the World Championship tournament in much greater detail and provide the full results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Round five commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenko

Round 5: Wednesday, February 20th

Peter Leko 
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
 Magnus Carlsen
Levon Aronian 
 Alexei Shirov
Teimour Radjabov 
 Vassily Ivanchuk

In the fifth round of the Morelia tournament the participants continued to please spectators with entertaining chess, which resulted in two wins for Black and two draws. No boring openings, no "lazy" draws – we are witnessing a highly exciting and interesting tournament. The desire to win is obvious, everybody can beat everybody. Yesterday we saw the Janisch gambit; today another rare opening with the established dubious reputation was played – the Alekhine Defense. And in these games Black scored 1.5 points against Anand and Topalov. A formidable show! The previous rest day had a bad effect on Topalov, who lost the second game in a row.

Topalov,V (2780) - Carlsen,M (2733) [B04]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (5), 20.02.2008

1.e4 Nf6

Guess who was the person that played this move for the first time? The first recorded game with 1...Nf6 is the following: 2.d3 (an understandable respect for opponent) 2...Nc6 (knowing who is leading the black pieces, it's no wonder that he is betting on his cavalry) 3.f4 e5 4.fxe5 Nxe5 5.Nc3 Nfg4 6.d4 Qh4+ 7.g3 Qf6 8.Nh3 Nf3+ 9.Ke2 Nxd4+ 10.Kd3 Ne5+ 11.Kxd4 Bc5+ 12.Kxc5 Qb6+ 13.Kd5 Qd6#

Commentary diagram

0-1. Madame de Remusat-Napoleon Bonaparte/Paris 1802. Was this game really played? It is certainly mentioned in several sources, but we'll leave a deeper research to historians. But back to the game:

2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6. Most likely Carlsen's opening choice came as a surprise to Topalov, although Magnus played this system before. 6.Bd3. The natural looking 6.c4 is actually a serious inaccuracy. After 6...Nb4 Black suddenly develops an initiative, threatening to take on d4 followed by the check on c2. White must play accurately in order to keep the balance. 6...Nd7. This is the main idea of Black's set-up: to exchange the exposed knight and achieve a very solid position. 7.Nxd7. When he was 13-years old, Carlsen lost against 7.0-0 : 7...Nxe5 8.dxe5 Nb4 (8...g6 is better 9.c3) 9.Be4 Qxd1 10.Rxd1 f5 11.a3 Na6 12.Bf3 g6 13.Nd2 Be6 14.Be2 Nc7 15.Nf3 Bd5 16.Nd4 Bg7 17.c4 Bf7 18.f4 and the much more experienced Grandmaster won against his young opponent, Sutovsky,E (2639)-Carlsen,M (2385)/Rethymnon 2003. 7...Bxd7 8.0-0 g6 9.Nd2 Bg7 10.Nf3 0-0

Black equalized, so Carlsen's opening experiment worked out fully. Moreover, in the next few moves the position will constantly change in Black's favour. 11.Re1. More cautious is 11.h3. 11...Bg4! 12.c3 c5! Carlsen's fight for the initiative is justified: Black leads in development and uses his bishops to create pressure on White's center. 13.Be4 cxd4 14.cxd4 e6

A dream position for Black. He has perfect pieces against the isolated pawn. 15.Qb3. Probably not the best way to give up the pawn. After 15.h3 Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Qb6 17.Bxd5 exd5 18.Be3 White has better chances to achieve a draw. For instance: 18...Qxb2 19.Qd3 Qb6 20.Rab1 Qc7 21.Rb5 Rfd8 22.Qb3 regaining the pawn. 15...Bxf3! Very concrete. Black wins the central pawn. 16.Bxf3 Bxd4 17.Bxd5 Qxd5 18.Qxd5 exd5 19.Rd1 Bg7

20.Kf1. 20.Rxd5 does not restore material equality: 20...Rfd8 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.Be3 (22.Kf1 Rd1+ 23.Ke2 Rh1 is just bad for White) 22...b6 23.Rb1 Bxb2 with a healthy pawn up. 20...Rfd8 21.Bg5 Rd7 22.Rd2 h6 23.Be3 d4 24.Rd3 Rc8 25.Bd2 Rc2

Black is a pawn up and has activity. Carlsen converts it convincingly into a full point. 26.Rb1 Re7 27.a4 f5 28.b3 Rec7 29.Be1 Kf7 30.Rd2 Rc1 31.Rxc1 Rxc1 32.Ke2 Rb1 33.Rd3 Ke6 34.h4 Kd5 35.Bd2 Ke4 36.Rg3 f4 37.Rd3 Be5 38.f3+ Kd5 39.Be1 Bd6 40.Bd2 g5 41.hxg5 hxg5 42.Be1 g4 43.fxg4 Ke4 44.g5. The rest day after this round comes in handy to Veselin. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Leko,P (2753) - Anand,V (2799) [B90]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (5), 20.02.2008

1.e4 c5. Another Sicilian will turn into another win for Anand. However, one should pay credit to Leko, who played strongly and achieved advantage, but unfortunately for him erred in time trouble. 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.f3 b5 10.0-0-0 Be7 11.Nd5. A more aggressive and popular continuation is 11.g4. 11...Bxd5 12.exd5 Nb6 13.Bxb6 Qxb6 14.Na5 Rc8. 14...0-0 15.Nc6 Rfe8 16.Kb1 leads to an equal middlegame. 15.Nc6 Nxd5 16.Nxe7 Nxe7 17.Qxd6 Qxd6 18.Rxd6 Nc6

This equal endgame contains sufficient resources for both sides. 19.c3 Ke7 20.Rd1 f5 21.Bd3 g6 22.Rhe1 Rhd8 23.Bf1 Rxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Na5 25.a4 Nc4 26.axb5 axb5

27.Rd5. Leko goes for principled complications. In the arising positions with passed pawns for both sides the bishop is usually stronger than the knight. 27...Kf6 28.Rxb5 Ne3 29.Rb6+ Kg5 30.Ba6 Rd8 31.b4

31...Kf4?! After 31...Nxg2 32.c4 Rd3 33.c5 Rxf3 34.c6 Nf4 the sharp complications will most likely end in a draw: 35.Kb2 Rf2+ 36.Kb3 Rf3+ 37.Kb2=. 32.Rc6! 32.c4 Nxc4! 33.Bxc4 Rc8 is out of danger for Black. 32...Nxg2 33.b5 Ra8

34.Bb7? 34.Rc8 would have offered Leko excellent winning chances. For instance: 34...Rxc8 (or 34...Ra7 35.Rc4+ Kxf3 36.Ra4 e4 37.b6 Rd7 38.b7 Rd8 39.Rc4 Rb8 40.Rc8 Rxb7 41.Bxb7) 35.Bxc8 Ne1 36.b6 Nd3+ 37.Kd2 Nc5 38.b7 Na6 39.c4 e4 40.c5 e3+ (40...Kxf3 41.Ke1! e3 42.Bd7) 41.Ke2 Ke5 42.c6 Kd6 43.Kxe3 Kxc6 44.Kf4 Kc7 (44...h6 45.Ke5) 45.Kg5 and White wins. 34...Rb8 35.Rc7? In time trouble Peter loses the thread. Black's counterplay becomes dangerous and after this second mistake White will be walking on the edge. 35.Ba6 was necessary, when after 35...e4 36.fxe4 fxe4 37.b6 e3 Black probably has sufficient activity to achieve a draw. 35...Ne1! 36.Rxh7 Nxf3 37.c4 e4

38.Kc2? The last and decisive mistake. 38.c5 might have still saved half a point: 38...e3 (38...Nd4 39.c6 Nxb5 40.c7 Nxc7 41.Rxc7=; 38...Re8 39.b6 e3 40.Ba6) 39.Re7 Nd4 (39...Ne5 40.c6 e2 41.Kd2) 40.c6 (40.b6? Nb3+) 40...Nxb5 41.c7 Nxc7 42.Rxc7 with a draw. 38...e3 39.Kd3 g5 40.Ke2. 40.c5 doesn't help any longer: 40...Rd8+ 41.Kc3 e2 42.Re7 Ne5 and Black queens. 40...Nd4+ 41.Ke1 Rd8 42.Re7 Nc2+ 43.Kf1 Rd1+ 44.Ke2 Rd2+ 45.Kf1 Nd4 0-1. [Click to replay]

Radjabov,T (2735) - Ivanchuk,V (2751) [B46]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (5), 20.02.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.f4 d5 8.e5 Nd7 9.Qd2 Bc5 10.0-0-0 0-0 11.Qf2. The pawn structure reminds more of a French Defense rather than Sicilian. Nevertheless this is a popular variation and both opponents play the best moves according to the existing theory. 11...Qe7 12.Kb1 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 b5 14.Bd3 b4 15.Ne2

15...a5. 15...Bb7 was met before, but Ivanchuk's plan to exchange the light-squared bishops looks more logical. 16.Rhe1 Ba6 17.f5 Bxd3 18.Rxd3 exf5 19.Nf4 Bxd4 20.Qxd4

20...Nf6 21.Rf1 Nd7 22.Re1 Nf6 23.Rf1 [23.Nxd5 Nxd5 24.Qxd5 Rfd8=] 23...Nd7 24.Nxd5. Considering Ivanchuk's shock from the previous round, Radjabov's decision to avoid repetition and keep the pressure for as long as possible is perfectly justified. 24...Qxe5 25.Rxf5 Qxd4. 25...Qxf5 runs into the obvious fork 26.Ne7+; 25...Qe1+ is useless due to 26.Rd1. 26.Ne7+ Kh8 27.Rxd4 g6 28.Rb5 Nf6 29.Nc6

White keeps some pressure in endgame, but Ivanchuk creates activity and achieves a draw rather easily. 29...Rfe8 30.b3 Re2 31.Nxa5 Rxg2 32.h4 Ng4 33.Nc4. The only chance to play on was 33.Rdxb4 Ne3 34.Rc5. 33...Rg1+ 34.Kb2 Nf2 35.Rxb4

35...Nd1+ 36.Kb1. After 36.Kc1?! Rxa2 only Black can play for a win. 36...Nc3+ 37.Kb2 Nd1+ 38.Kb1 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Aronian,L (2739) - Shirov,A (2755) [A21]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (5), 20.02.2008

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Nd5 Be7. This slightly unusual-looking system has its logic: after the exchange on e7 Black will achieve a quick and good development. 4.d4 d6 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nxe7 Qxe7 7.f3. Occupying the center with the pawns represents the most energetic way to fight for advantage. 7...Nh5 8.Be3

8...f5. Shirov introduces an important novelty. Earlier Alexey played 8...0-0 but as he himself pointed out in annotations, White has advantage by continuing 9.d5. 9.exf5 Nf6. After 9...exd4 10.Qxd4 Nc6 11.Qd2 Black still can't take the pawn: 11...Bxf5? 12.g4; 9...Bxf5? 10.g4 Qh4+ 11.Bf2 loses a piece for Black. 10.Ne2. Aronian decided not to step on opponent's territory without preparation. It is almost certain that Shirov analyzed at home the most principled 10.g4. 10...exd4 11.Bxd4. 11.Qxd4 Bxf5 is also about equal. 11...Bxf5 12.Qd2 Nc6 13.0-0-0 0-0-0 14.g4 Bg6 15.Nf4 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 Kb8 17.h4 Bf7 18.Bd3

The opponents already used a lot of time and in order to avoid any possible mistakes decided to call it a day. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

All pictures by Frederic Friedel in Morelia

About the author

Dorian Rogozenko was born on 18.08.1973 in Kishinev, Moldova. He has been a grandmaster since 1995 and played several Olympiads for Moldova, and then for Romania.

Rogozenko has produced several CDs for ChessBase, and two chess books. He is the editor-in-chief of the Romanian chess magazine Gambit (since 2002).


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