Nanjing: Carlsen wins again, leads with 4.5/5 points

10/3/2009 – Words fail us: Magnus Carlsen has won again, beating Teimour Radjabov in a ferocious 25-move slugout. At halftime at the Pearl Spring tournament the Norwegian leads by two full points and displays an Elo performance of 3143. The other games were drawn. We have an interesting historical assessment of Carlsen's performance by chess statistician Jeff Sonas in our illustrated report.

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Second Nanjing Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

This event, organized by the Municipal People’s Government of Nanjing, is taking place from 27th September to 9th October 2009 in Nanjing, China. Time controls are 90 minutes for 40 moves and 60 minutes for the rest of the game, with no increment. The tournament is a six-player double round robin and has a total prize fund of 250,000 Euros, with the winner taking 80,000 Euros.

Round five

Round 5: Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Dmitry Jakovenko
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Wang Yue

Carlsen,M (2772) - Radjabov,T (2757) [B30]
2nd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (5), 02.10.2009


Azeri GM Teimour Radjabov preparing to do battle

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6. Radjabov wants to play the Sveshnikov, but Carlsen prevents that with his next move.


Magnus Carlsen prevents the Sveshnikov

3.Bb5 e6. The main variation is 3...g6. 4.0-0 Nge7. This is how Radjabov often plays against the Rossolimo System.

5.c3. 5.Nc3 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Ne2 a6 8.Ba4 Nc6 9.d3 b5 10.Bb3 Bc5 11.f4 Qh4 12.Bd2 Bb7 13.Kh1 Qe7 14.Qe1 g6 15.c3 dxc3 16.Bxc3 Bb4 17.d4 Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qb4 19.Qe3 Na5 20.d5 0-0 21.Rad1 Rae8 22.Ng3 Nxb3 23.axb3 f5 24.Qa7 Bc8 25.Qe3 Bb7 26.Qa7 Bc8 27.Qe3 1/2-1/2 Movsesian,S (2751)-Radjabov,T (2761)/Wijk aan Zee 2009/CB06_2009.

5...a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bc2 Bb7 8.Qe2.

This position was already debated by the two players in Linares at the beginning of 2009. Radjabov now deviates. 8...d5. 8...Ng6 9.d4 cxd4 10.cxd4 Rc8 11.a3 Be7 12.Nc3 0-0 13.Rd1 Na5 14.g3 Nc4 15.h4 Nxa3 16.bxa3 Rxc3 17.h5 Qc7 18.Bd3 Nh8 19.Bb2 Rb3 20.Rac1 Qa5 21.d5 Bxa3 22.Bxa3 Rxa3 23.Qe3 f5 24.exf5 Bxd5 25.Ne5 Qd8 26.fxe6 dxe6 27.Bxh7+ Kxh7 28.Qxa3 Rf5 29.Qd3 Kg8 30.Qe2 Nf7 31.Ng6 Kh7 32.Nf4 Ng5 33.Qg4 Qa8 34.Nxd5 Rxd5 35.f4 Rxd1+ 36.Qxd1 Ne4 37.Qd3 Qd5 38.Qxd5 exd5 39.Kg2 a5 40.g4 b4 41.Rc8 b3 42.g5 g6 43.h6 Nd6 44.Rb8 a4 45.Rb4 d4 46.Rxa4 d3 47.Kf3 Nb5 48.Rb4 Nc3 49.Rb7+ Kg8 50.Rb8+ Kh7 51.Ke3 b2 52.Rb7+ Kg8 53.Rb8+ Kh7 1/2-1/2 Carlsen,M (2776)-Radjabov,T (2761)/Linares 2009/CB11_2009

9.e5. Less ambitious would be 9.d3 d4 10.a4 Ng6 11.axb5 axb5 12.Rxa8 Bxa8 13.Na3 Qb8 14.c4 bxc4 15.Nxc4 Be7 16.g3 0-0 1/2-1/2 Campora,D (2542)-Vallejo Pons,F (2629) /Dos Hermanas 2002/CBM 087. 9...d4. Here we have also seen 9...Qb6 e.g. 10.h4 Rd8 11.Rd1 d4 12.Be4 Nd5 13.d3 Be7 14.cxd4 cxd4 1/2-1/2 Lahno,K (2456)-Kuzubov,Y (2554)/Moscow 2007/CBM.

10.Be4 Qb6. Carlsen's Trainer prefered (against Grischuk) 10...Nd5 which is also the main move. 11.cxd4 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 cxd4 13.a4 b4 14.d3 Qc7 15.f4 Rc8 16.Nd2 Ne3 17.Rf3 Bxe4 18.dxe4 d3 19.Qxd3 Nc2 20.Rb1 Ne1 21.Qxa6 Nxf3+ 22.Nxf3 Qc4 23.Qb5+ Qxb5 24.axb5 Bc5+ 25.Kf1 0-0 26.Ke2 Rb8 27.Be3 Rxb5 28.Rc1 Bxe3 29.Kxe3 Rbb8 30.Nd4 Rfc8 31.Rd1 Rc4 32.g4 Rd8 33.h4 g6 34.h5 gxh5 35.gxh5 h6 36.f5 Kh7 37.f6 Rd7 38.Rd2 Kh8 39.Rd1 Rc2 40.Ra1 Rxb2 41.Ra8+ Kh7 42.Re8 Ra2 43.Nc6 b3 44.Rb8 Ra6 45.Nd4 Ra3 46.Nxb3 Rd1 47.Rb7 Rb1 48.Rxf7+ Kg8 49.Rg7+ Kf8 50.Kd4 Raxb3 51.Ra7 Rd1+ 52.Kc4 Rb8 53.Kc3 Rc8+ 54.Kb2 Rd4 55.Rh7 Rc6 56.Rb7 Rdc4 57.Kb3 Rc3+ 58.Kb2 Rc2+ 0-1 Grischuk,A (2702)-Kasparov, G (2838)/Moscow 2002/CBM.

11.d3 Rd8. After 11...Ng6 Black has to reckon with 12.h4. 12.a4 Nd5 13.axb5 axb5 14.cxd4 cxd4. Opening up the position is better for White, who is much better developed. 15.Nbd2 Nf4. 15...Be7 16.Nb3 0-0 would also be dangerous for Black, since White is ready to attack on the kingside. 17.Bg5!? 16.Qd1.

Even this position has been seen before. Radjabov deviates from the predecessor game. 16...Nb4?! 16...Nd5 17.Nb3 Be7 18.Bd2 Ndb4 19.Qe2 0-0 20.Ng5 g6 21.Nxh7 Kxh7 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Bxg6 fxg6 24.Qxg6+ Kh8 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.Qg6+ Kh8 27.Qh6+ Kg8 28.Qxe6+ Kh8 29.Qh6+ 1/2-1/2 Pahud,C (2185)-Carron,J (2300)/Lausanne 2003/EXT 17.Nb3

17...Bxe4. This forced exchange in the following weakens the pawn on b5. 18.dxe4 Nfd3 19.Bg5 Rc8. 19...Rb8 20.Nfxd4 Nxe5 21.Ra5+–. 20.Nfxd4 Nxb2. 20...Nxe5 21.Ra5 Bd6 22.Rxb5 Qc7 23.f4+–. 21.Qe2 Nc4 22.Rfc1 Bc5. 22...Be7 23.Nxb5 Qxb5 24.Bxe7 Kxe7 25.Ra7+ is also hardly enjoyable for Black. 23.Nxb5

23...0-0? This loses the game for Black, who was already suffering from a clearly inferior position. After 23...Bxf2+ 24.Qxf2 Qxb5 25.Qe2 (In case of 25.Qd4 0-0 26.Be7 Nc6 (26...Rfe8? 27.Bxb4 Qxb4 28.Na5 wins a piece, or Black must give his queen for a knight and rook) 27.Qc5 Qxc5+ (27...Qxb3 28.Bxf8 Nd2 29.Ra3 Qb7 30.Qc2+-) 28.Bxc5 N4xe5 29.Bxf8 Rxf8 the white win is not so clear: 30.Rc5 g6 31.Ra6 Rb8 etc.) 25...0-0 26.Nd4.

24.Nxc5 An unusual and pretty configuration of all four knights, which deserves a diagram.

24...Nxe5. 24...Rxc5 25.Be7 Qxb5 26.Bxc5 Qxc5 27.Qxc4 Qxc4 28.Rxc4+–. 25.Be7. Perhaps Black had been hoping for 25.Nb3 Rxc1+ 26.Rxc1 (26.Bxc1!+-) 26...Nbd3. 1-0. [Click to replay]



Arbiter Panagiotis Nikolopoulos and GM Teimour Radjabov watch the start of this game

Leko,P (2762) - Jakovenko,D (2742) [C67]
2nd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (5), 02.10.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Nh4 13.Nxh4 Bxh4 14.Ne2 Bd7 15.Rfe1 Rd8 16.Nd4 Bc8 17.c3 Rd5 18.e6 Bf6 19.Bxc7 Bxe6 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Bf4 Ke7 22.Rc1 Rhd8 23.Kf1 Bg5 24.Bxg5+ Rxg5 25.Rc2 Rgd5 26.Rce2 R8d6 27.c4 Rf5 28.Re4 c5 29.R1e3 b6 30.Ke2 g5 31.g4 hxg4 32.hxg4 Rf7 33.Rh3 Rd4 34.Rxd4 cxd4 35.Rh5 d3+ 36.Kxd3 Rxf2 37.Rxg5 Rxb2 38.Rg7+ Kd6 39.Rxa7 Rg2 40.Rg7 Rxa2 41.g5 Rg2 42.g6 Ke5 43.Kc3 Kf5 44.Rb7 Rxg6 45.Rxb6 Rg1 46.c5 Rc1+ 47.Kd4 e5+ 48.Kd5 Rd1+ 49.Kc4 Rc1+ 50.Kd5 Rd1+ 51.Kc4 Rc1+ draw.

Topalov,V (2813) - Wang Yue (2736) [D10]
2nd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (5), 02.10.2009
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.Be2 e6 8.h3 Bh5 9.g4 Bg6 10.Ne5 Nfd7 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qc2 Be7 13.Bb2 Nf6 14.0-0-0 Nbd7 15.c5 Qc7 16.h4 a5 17.g5 Nh5 18.Bg4 Nf8 19.Rdg1 0-0-0 20.Ne2 f5 21.gxf6 gxf6 22.Bxh5 gxh5 23.Rg7 Rd7 24.Rhg1 Bd8 25.Rg8 Rdh7 26.Nf4 Qf7 27.R8g2 Bc7 28.Nd3 Nd7 29.a3 Kb7 30.Bc3 Ra8 31.f4 f5 32.Ne5 Qe7 33.Nxd7 Qxd7 34.a4 b4 35.Be1 Rf8 36.Rg6 Bd8 37.Qg2 Bf6 38.Bf2 Qe7 39.Qf3 Rff7 40.Kd2 Rfg7 41.Rxg7 Bxg7 42.Qg3 Bf6 43.Qg8 Rh8 44.Qg6 Rh7 45.Qg8 Rh8 46.Qg6 Rh7 draw.

Results and standings after round three

Best performance ever?

A number of readers have sent in questions or speculated on whether this is the most impressive performance ever seen in the game. Chess statistician Jeff Sonas sent us some a quick assessment of Magnus Carlsen's performance so far:

"I have always felt that comparing performance ratings between short and long events is misleading," Jeff writes, "because it is much easier, for instance, to score 90% in five games than in ten games. So a 90% score across ten games is much more impressive. If the tournament ended right now, I would call Carlsen's results not quite one of the 100-best performances ever (including matches and tournaments). A good comparison would be Ivanchuk's 4.5/5 against Yudasin (a top-ten player) in their 1991 match. If Carlsen maintains the 90% score to the end (i.e. scoring 9/10) then I would call it the best performance ever, a little above Karpov Linares 1994 and Fischer's 1971 match against Larsen. If Carlsen "only" scores 85% out of 10 games, then I would call it an all-time top-ten performance, roughly comparable to Kasparov at Linares 1999 or Kramnik in his World Championship match against Kasparov." Here is a list of the top-100 performances from 1840-2005.

On an unrelated note Jeff reminds us that Magnus Carlsen was born during Kasparov and Karpov's fifth World Championship Match in 1990, in between Game 14, when Kasparov introduced the Scotch Opening, and Game 16, when he won his first game with it. Magnus started this current tournament with a fine Scotch win over Peter Leko.

Schedule and results

Round 1: Monday, September 28, 2009
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Peter Leko
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Dmitriy Jakovenko
Wang Yue 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Round 2: Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Veselin Topalov
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Dmitry Jakovenko 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Round 3: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Wang Yue 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Dmitry Jakovenko
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Round 4: Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Wang Yue 
½-½
 Peter Leko
Dmitry Jakovenko 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Round 5: Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Peter Leko 
½-½
 Dmitry Jakovenko
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Round 6: Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Peter Leko 
-
 Magnus Carlsen
Dmitry Jakovenko 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Wang Yue
Games – Report
Round 7: Monday, October 5th, 2009
Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Peter Leko
Wang Yue 
-
 Dmitry Jakovenko
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Magnus Carlsen
Games – Report
Round 8: Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
Peter Leko 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Magnus Carlsen 
-
 Wang Yue
Dmitry Jakovenko 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 9: Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Dmitry Jakovenko 
-
 Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov 
-
 Magnus Carlsen
Wang Yue 
-
 Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 10: Friday, October 9th, 2009
Peter Leko 
-
 Wang Yue
Veselin Topalov 
-
 Teimour Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen 
-
Dmitry Jakovenko 
Games – Report

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