Miskolc: Carlsen wins the rapid chess match 5:3

6/3/2008 – Game seven was make-or-break for Peter Leko, and things looked quite promising for the Hungarian GM. But on move 42 he faltered badly, and Magnus Carlsen lashed out with a crushing win. In the final game the young Norwegian was never in danger and drew in 27 moves. He finished with a two-point overall victory. Illustrated report with GM analysis.

Peter Leko vs Magnus Carlsen
in Miskolc, Hungary

The year’s most prestigious clash in Hungary took place in Miskolc, Hungary. Top Hungarian GM, Péter Lékó played eight rapid chess games against challenger, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

The event lasted from May 28th to June 1st 2008. The arbiter was WGM Zsuzsa Veröci, Head of Communication of the Hungarian Chess Federation.

The games were broadcast live on the official site and on Playchess.com. At the end of each day of play there were short press conferences of 10-15 minutes with both players.

Day three report

By GM Zoltán Gyimesi

Leko,Peter (2741) - Carlsen,Magnus (2765) [D12]
Miskolc rapid (7), 01.06.2008 [Gyimesi Zoltán]

1.d4. Although Peter was better with 1.e4 in all three games, in his last white game he switched to 1.d4.

1...d5 It took a minute for Magnus to decide what to play. 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3

4...Bf5 5.Nc3. Peter has little practice in this line, because his only (rapid) game with white in this position was against non other than Magnus a year ago. There followed a6 and after a spectacular fight it was a draw. 5...e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6. On the other hand Magnus had it recently with both colours. 8.Bd2 Nbd7 9.Qc2 Be7 10.Be2 dxc4 11.Bxc4 0-0 12.0-0 c5 13.dxc5 Nxc5 14.Rfd1 Rc8. In Carlsen-Anand, Dortmund 2007 they inserted a3, and black drew after a little suffering. 15.Be1 Qc7

Quite a normal position, although it is a mystical question what on earth a bishop could be doing on e1?! 16.Be2 Nce4 17.Qa4 Nxc3 18.Bxc3. The pair of bishops would give White a slight edge, but he cannot keep it for long. 18...Nd5 19.Bd4 a6 20.Bf3 Rfd8 21.Qb3 Bf6

22.g3. Peter was afraid that after 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Bxd5 Rxd5 24.Rxd5 exd5 25.g3 his adventage is not enough. In this case he is mistaken, but I can understand his concerns, since Magnus is capable of holding rook endings with a pawn less, and here he still hasn't lost that pawn. 22...b6. Black has nearly equalized. 23.Be2 Bxd4. 23...e5 24.Bc3 Nxc3 25.bxc3 was Peter's idea, but after 25...b5 I don't think he can do anything with the f7 weakness. 24.Rxd4 a5 25.Ba6 Rb8 26.Be2 Rbc8 27.Rc4 Qb8 28.Rac1 Rxc4 29.Qxc4 Ne7 30.Qb5 Kf8 31.b4 Rd5 32.Qa4 axb4. Rd2 was a strong alternative, but Magnus was already very short on time. Peter still had some minutes, but not for long. 33.Qxb4 Qd6 34.Qb3 Qd8 35.Rb1 Rd6

Magnus has defended all his weaknesses. It is not easy to break through, but Bf3 with Rc1-c4-a4-a8 could have been a try. 36.h4?! A thematical move, but now it merely weakens the g3 pawn, and takes away the h4 square from the rook. 36...Kg8 37.Bf3 Nf5 38.Rc1 Ne7 39.Kg2 Rd2! Finally some activity. Now White should agree the inevitable with Rc2 or Rd1. 40.Rc4?! Nf5! Comes the second piece into activity! 41.Kg1?! 41.Rc2?? would be a terrible tactical mistake, because 41...Nxe3+! is possible and Black wins. 41...Qf6!

And Magnus brings his third (and last) piece into the attack. Now he threatens to jump in with the knight, and everything hangs. Peter realised it, too, but he has to win in order to level the match. And look, Black's king is very vulnerable! Let's mate it on the back rank! 42.Qxb6?? But NO! This was not your time! Black arrives first! Instead 42.Qc3 was the only move, and after 42...Rxa2 43.Qxf6 gxf6 44.Rb4 Ra6 45.Bb7 Ra1+ 46.Kg2 Ra2 47.Kf1 they can agree to a draw. 42...Qa1+! Wow, what a check! 43.Kg2 Qe1. And again, as in the third game, it is precisely the f2 square (pawn), that costs Peter another half point! 44.Rc8+ Kh7 45.Qb8

Had it been White to move... 45...Rxf2+? Okay, it still wins, but wasn't 45...Nxe3+! 46.Kh3 Qf1+ 47.Kh2 Rxf2+ 48.Bg2 Qxg2# much easier and faster? I know, you had just seconds left, and everything wins. 46.Kh3 Certainly Peter would give it up already some moves earlier in a real game, but he played for the public, and they found it very entertaining, that his king run out to the other side of the board. 46...Qf1+ 47.Kg4

47...Nh6+ 48.Kf4

48...Rxf3+ 49.Ke4 f5+


50...Rxe3+ 51.Kd6 Qa6+

52.Ke7 Qa3+ 53.Kd7 Rd3+

But this is really game over. And with it Magnus has already secured the match. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Carlsen,Magnus (2765) - Leko,Peter (2741) [E12]
Miskolc rapid (8), 01.06.2008 [Gyimesi Zoltán]

1.d4. After having 1.e4 in the first five games, it is a little compensation to have 1.d4 in the last three. 1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7 5.Bg5

5...h6 6.Bh4 Be7 7.e3 0-0 8.Bd3 c5 9.0-0 cxd4 10.exd4 Nc6

Magnus with black played d5 and was slightly worse against Zhao Zong last year in the World Cup. But still he managed to win the game. The position is more or less equal. The minor pieces are well developed. 11.Bc2. The novelty, but not a very succesful one. Gelfand chose the natural Rc1 in a rapid game against Peter, but even there Black equalised comfortably. 11...d5 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.cxd5

That was the idea behind 11.Bc2, now the pawn on d4 is protected, but... 13...Nb4! ... is possible! And Peter is a player who will never miss such subtleties! 14.dxe6. Forced, otherwise White will have an isolani for nothing. 14...Bxf3 15.gxf3 Nxc2 16.Qxc2

What did they do in less than six moves with that nice looking position? If you take a look at White's king's pawn structure you would hardly guess that it was done by one of the best player on the world. I am sure Magnus is also not so proud of this game and will forget it quickly. 16...Qxd4. Probably Bxd4 was more accurate, but after the previous game's blunder Peter was not in the best shape either. 17.Rad1 Qh4. Again not the best, Qc4 was more precise with some hopes for an adventage. Now Magnus does clean work to end all unpleasance. 18.Qe4! fxe6 19.Qxe6+ Kh8 20.Qg4

Practically mating the queen. There is nothing to play for. After the exchanging procedure... 20...Rac8 21.Rd7

21... Qxg4+ 22.fxg4 Bxc3

23.bxc3 Rxc3 24.Rxa7 Rf4 25.f3

25...Rcxf3 26.Rxf3 Rxf3 27.Kg2 ...they agreed to draw. Altogether 5:3 for Magnus with two wins and six draws. Knowing only the result suggests that Magnus was dominating, but at the closing ceremony he honestly admitted that he was a bit lucky. If they would replay all the games starting always at move 20, the result could be easily the other way around. Maybe next time... 1/2-1/2 [Click to replay]

All photos by Frederic Friedel in Miskolc

Final standings

Peter Leko
Magnus Carlsen

After the game at the prize-giving the two players still debate their moves

The prizes are given to the players by the Lord Mayor of Miskolc Sandor Kali

The two participants: Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Lékó Péter of Hungary

One of the key players in this magnificent chess event: Sándor Káli, the Lord Mayor of Miskolc – Polgármester in Hungarian (like "Bürgermeister" in German)

"He turned seventeen and a half on Friday", says Henrik Carlsen. So it will be Henrik and his wife who enjoy the very fine Tokaji Azu wine Magnus has received from the Polgármester.

More wine, this time from Gróf Degenfeld Winery, from hotel director Aladár Döme


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