Nanjing: Carlsen wins with the Scotch

9/28/2009 – Garry Kasparov will be proud. His chess charge, Magnus Carlsen, won his first-round game against Peter Leko at the Pearl Spring Chess Tournament with a convincing Scotch Opening – Kasparov's favourite during his active career. The other two games, Topalov-Jakovenko and Wang Yue-Radjabov were fighting draws. A big pictorial report follows, here for now are the games and analysis.

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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, as given on the official web site, are 90 minutes for all the moves of the game with a 30 second increment per move, but in reality it is 90 minutes for 40 moves and 60 minutes fof the rest of the game, with no increment. The tournament is like last year, it is held at the Mingfa Pearl Spring Hotel in the Pukou District of Nanjing, China. The city of Nanjing (literally meaning “southern capital”) is the capital of China’s Jiangsu Province, located 300 km northwest of Shanghai.

The participants are, sorted according to rating, from left to right, are: Veselin Topalov (2813), Magnus Carlsen (2772), Peter Leko (2762), Teimour Radjabov (2757), Dmitry Jakovenko (2742), Wang Yue (2736). The average rating is 2763, which makes the event a category 21 tournament.

Round one

Magnus Carlsen won a very nice game against Hungary's top grandmaster Peter Leko. The other two games were fighting draws.

Round 1: Monday, September 28, 2009
Magnus Carlsen 
 Peter Leko
Veselin Topalov 
 Dmitriy Jakovenko
Wang Yue 
 Teimour Radjabov

Carlsen,M (2772) - Leko,P (2762) [C45]
2nd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (1), 28.09.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4. Is Magnus Carlsen working with Garry Kasparov? Yes, we seem to recall he is. This is the Scotch Opening, which Kasparov played very successfully during his active career. Magnus seems to have played it ten times in his career, between 2002 and 2008. Result: he won four, drew five and lost one. We are probably going to see a greater number of Scotches in the future. 3...exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 Ne5 8.Be2 Qg6 9.0-0 d6 10.f4 Qxe4 11.Bf2 Bxd4 12.cxd4 N5g6 13.g3 0-0 14.Nc3 Qf5 15.d5 a6 16.Re1 Kh8. This appears to be the novelty, played by Leko very quickly. But this does not indicate, as some thought, that the Hungarian GM was ready for the new Carlsen, armed with the Scotch. In fact Peter thought so long on his 15th move that he was getting low on time already and wisely followed the plan shaped the move before. He basically was out of preparation at move six. 17.Rc1 Bd7 18.Bf3 Rac8 19.Qb3 b5

20.Ne2. Carlsen abandons the idea of putting his knight on e4 and moves it towards d4 instead. 20...Qh3 21.Nd4 Bg4 22.Bg2 Qh5 23.h4. Putting the black queen pretty much out of commission on the kingside.

23...Ng8? Not a good move, because it frees a great infiltration square for the white rook: 24.Rc6! Nf6 25.Rxa6 Bd7 26.Nxb5 Rb8 27.a4 Ng4

This was the goal of the knight move at 23: Black has the optically nice g4 square for his knight, but at what cost? 28.Bf3 Qh6 29.Qc4. Carlsen calmly takes his queen out of the pin on the b-file. 29...Nxh4. Black is losing, and desperately wants to whip up some kind of mating attack on the kingside. 30.Bxg4 Bxg4 31.gxh4 But White has everything under control. 31...Bf3 32.f5 Qh5

33.Qf4 Bxd5 34.Nxc7 Bb7

35.Rb6. It's all over, Black is a piece down with nothing to show for it. Even 35.Rxd6 was possible, with an overwhelming material advantage. 35...f6 36.Bd4 Qf7 37.Ne6 Rg8 38.Kf2 Rbc8 39.Bc3 Bd5 40.a5. Black had one final hope, that Carlsen would blunder in time trouble, but that is taken as the young Norwegian makes it safely to move 40.

40...Rc4 41.Nd4 Ba8 42.Qxd6 Qh5 43.Qf4 Rcc8 44.Rbe6. The final moves were pure desperation. Now a piece and a pawn down Peter Leko finally resigns. A very nice win for Magnus – Garry Kasparov will be proud! 1-0. [Click to replay]

"The Nanjing games are homework by Garry Kasparov and me," said
Magnus Carlsen at the press conference. "Today's game was provided by Garry."


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

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