Nanjing R09: Carlsen beats Topalov, wins Pearl Spring

10/29/2010 – It was the usual story: Magnus Carlsen kept putting intense pressure on the opponent, turning the screws, until suddenly he cracked. Unusual was that it was the former world number one, Veselin Topalov who buckled. The other games were drawn. Carlsen is now 1½ points ahead of the field and the winner of the event. Illustrated report with analysis by GM Romain Edouard.

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Nanjing Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

The 2010 Nanjing International tournament takes place from October 19th to October 30th in Nanjing, China. It is a ten-round double round-robin event, in which each player faces every other player twice, once with the white pieces, and once with black.

Time control: 40 moves in two hours then 20 moves in one hour followed by the rest of the game in 15 minutes with a 30 second increment as of move 61.

Game start: Rounds 1-9 at 2:30 PM local time (11:30 PM Pacific daylight / 2:30 AM New York / 8:30 AM Paris), and round 10 at 10 AM local time (7 PM Pacific daylight / 10 PM New York / 4 AM Paris)

Round nine report

Round 9: Friday, October 29, 2010
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen

Entering the penultimate round, Bacrot was tied with Anand for 2nd-3rd and had to hope his best that he would win this ninth round game. The reason isn't so much that Anand might win his this round, but if he should enter the last round still tied with the World Champion, he would be faced with the unpleasant task of having black against Anand to decide both their fates.


Etienne Bacrot against Wang Yue

Bacrot,Etienne (2720) - Wang,Yue (2732) [C42]
Pearl Spring Chess Tournament Nanjing/China (9), 29.10.2010 [Romain Edouard]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Nc3 Nxc3. 8...Bf5!? is another fashionable possibility. There follows 9.Qe1 or 9.Re1. 9.bxc3 Bg4. 9...0-0 10.h3! is just better for White: Black's white-squared bishop is lacking potential and White has some free play on the kingside. 10.Re1 0-0 11.Bf4 Bh5!? 11...Bd6 12.Bxd6 Bxf3 (12...cxd6!? 13.Re3! and Black has constant problems, facing both Qe2/Re1 ideas and Rb1-Rb5 ideas. Still, I believe this should also be critical.) 13.Qxf3 (13.Bxc7 Bxd1 14.Bxd8 Bxc2=) 13...Qxd6 14.Re3! and the last important game in this line was the following: 14...Rae8 15.Rae1 Rxe3 16.Rxe3 g6 17.h4 Nb8 18.h5 Nd7 19.g4 Nf6 20.h6 Kh8 21.Re5 c6 22.c4 Ng8 23.Qe3 dxc4 24.Bxc4 g5 25.Rxg5 Nxh6 26.Qe4 f6 27.Rh5 f5 28.gxf5 Nxf5 29.Be6 Qxd4 30.Rxh7+ 1-0 Leko,P (2751)-Kasimdzhanov,R (2695)/Nalchik RUS 2009 12.Rb1 Rb8. Better not to weaken anything. 13.Qe2 Bd6 14.Qe3 Qd7!








14...Bxf4 15.Qxf4 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Qd6 This position is similar to the game Leko-Kasimdzhanov mentioned above. Actually, even exactly the same, except with the Rb1 and ...Rb8 moves included! 17.Re3 g6 18.h4 Kg7 19.h5 Rfe8 20.Rbe1 Rxe3 21.Qxe3 a6 22.a4 Qa3 23.Be2 Qd6 24.Bf3 Rd8 25.h6+ Kf8 26.c4 Qf6 27.Qa3+ Qd6 28.Qe3 Qf6 29.Qa3+ Qd6 30.Qc3 Qb4 31.Qxb4+ 1/2-1/2 Sasikiran,K (2677)-Wang,Y (2698)/Vishakapatnam IND 2008 15.Ng5N An interesting try, but apparently a draw by force. Sometimes (often?) the opponent knows or finds the best defense, but what can you do? 15.Ne5 Bxe5 16.dxe5 Bg6 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Rbd1 Qe6 19.Bg5 Rbe8 20.Qd2 Nxe5 21.Bf4 Qf5 22.Bxe5 Rxe5 23.Rxe5 Qxe5 24.Qxd5 Qxc3 25.Qxb7 Qxc2 26.Qb3 Qxb3 27.axb3 Rb8 28.Rd3 Kf8 29.Rc3 Rb7 30.Re3 Rb6 31.Kf1 Re6 32.Rc3 c6 33.Rc4 Ke8 34.Rd4 Re5 35.h4 Ke7 36.g3 Ke6 37.Kg2 Rb5 38.Rd3 a5 39.g4 Rd5 40.Rf3 Rd4 41.Kg3 c5 42.Re3+ Kd7 43.f3 Rb4 44.f4 Kc6 45.h5 gxh5 46.gxh5 Rb7 47.Kg4 Kd5 48.Kf5 Kd4 49.Rg3 f6 50.Kg6 a4 51.bxa4 c4 52.f5 c3 53.Rg1 c2 54.Rc1 Kc3 55.h6 gxh6 56.Kxf6 Kd2 57.Rh1 c1Q 58.Rxc1 Kxc1 59.a5 Ra7 60.Kg6 Rxa5 61.f6 Ra6 0-1 Smeets,J (2651)-Gelfand,B (2750)/FRA 2010 15...h6 16.Nh3 Bg4!? 17.Qg3 Bxh3 18.Bxd6 cxd6 19.Qxh3. 19.gxh3 Rbe8 is just OK for Black. 19...Qxh3 20.gxh3 Rfd8 21.Rb5 Kf8 22.Reb1. 22.Rxd5 Rbc8 probably makes almost no difference. 22...b6 23.Rxd5 Rbc8 24.c4 Ke7 25.Re1+ Kf8 26.Rb1 Ke7 27.Re1+ Kf8.








White is up a pawn, but we need only glance at the right side of the board (plus doubled c-pawns) to understand that Black enjoys full compensation. Draw. [Click to replay]


Gashimov decided to repeat Carlsen's opening choice against Anand, however the novelty he uncorked quickly extinguished any real play from the position after move 20, and though they played another twenty, the result was never in doubt.


Gashimov was content to neutralize Anand in the ninth round

Gashimov,Vugar (2719) - Anand,Viswanathan (2800) [C67]
Pearl Spring Chess Tournament Nanjing/China (9), 29.10.2010 [Romain Edouard]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1!? Oh, a Carlsen fan! 5...Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1








7...Nxe5 Anand tried 7...Nf5 against Carlsen, but this time went for a more peaceful line. 8.Rxe5 0-0 9.Nc3. 9.d4 is the other move, known as just equal. But who knows what Carlsen's ideas were two days ago? 9...Ne8!? 9...Bf6 is also possible, of course. 10.Nd5 Bd6 11.Re1 c6 12.Ne3 Bc7 13.c4N








A drawing novelty to my eyes, though the idea itself is quite interesting. 13.Nf5 d5= has been played several times. 13...Nf6 14.b3 d5 15.cxd5 cxd5 16.Qf3 Be6 17.Ba3 Re8 18.Bb5 Bd7 19.Bxd7 Qxd7 20.Bb2 Be5 21.Bxe5 Rxe5








Now Black equalized, and Anand played the rest of the game quite fast. 22.Nc2 Rae8 23.Rxe5 Rxe5 24.Qc3 Re8 25.Qd4 b6 26.f3 Rd8 27.Ne3 Ne8 28.f4. 28.Rc1 Nc7 29.Nf5 Qxf5 30.Rxc7 h6 would just be equal, for instance: 31.Rxa7 Qb1+ 32.Kf2 Re8! with clearly enough counterplay to draw.


Although he had no real chance to play for a win, he will have
an edge playing white against Bacrot in the last round, while
they decide second and third place.

28...Nc7 29.f5 Ne8 30.Re1 Nf6 31.Ng4 Nxg4 32.Qxg4 h6 33.Qf4 Re8 34.Rxe8+ Qxe8 35.Kf2 f6 36.g4 Qc6 37.Qe3 Kh7 38.a4 Qd6 39.Kg2 a5 40.Qe8 Qb4 41.Qg6+ Kg8 42.Qe8+








Draw. [Click to replay]


The game marked the end of contention for first, though this hardly seemed in doubt, with Carlsen doing what he does best, playing simple, strong positional chess, exploiting mercilessly his opponents' mistakes.


Carlsen arrives at the penultimate game, brandishing his usual bottles of orange stuff.

In this case it was all the more remarkable as he set a fairly simple trap (simple for players of their standard), which Topalov fell for. Carlsen commented in the press conference that he had actually anticipated Topalov might do so, though he didn't seem able to explain why. Perhaps this is merely a part of the puzzle that makes great players great: their ability to play the player, and not just the position, and perhaps he also intuited it after the Bulgarian had managed to find himself in an unpleasant position unnecessarily, a sign that he was not playing his 'A' game.

Topalov,Veselin (2803) - Carlsen,Magnus (2826) [E00]
Pearl Spring Chess Tournament Nanjing/China (9), 29.10.2010 [Romain Edouard]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 d5 6.Bg2 c6 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.0-0 b6 9.Rc1 0-0 10.b4!?








10.cxd5 cxd5 11.Nc3 Ba6 12.a4 Rc8 13.Nb5 Ne4 14.Qf4 Qe7 15.Rc7 Bxb5 16.axb5 Nd6 17.Qc1 Rxc7 18.Qxc7 Rc8 19.Qxa7 Qd8 20.Qa4 h6 21.Qb4 Qf8 22.b3 Ne4 23.Qxf8+ Kxf8 24.Ne5 Nxe5 25.Bxe4 dxe4 26.dxe5 Rc5 27.Ra8+ Ke7 28.Ra7+ Kf8 1/2-1/2 Wang,Y (2732)-Carlsen,M (2826)/Nanjing/China 2010

10...Bb7 11.Qb2 Rb8N 12.Nbd2 Qe7 13.e3 Rfc8 14.Rc2 c5 15.bxc5 bxc5 16.Qa3 Rc6 17.Rac1 Ra6 18.Qd3 h6 19.Qe2 dxc4 20.Qxc4 cxd4. 20...Rc8!? might be a better try to equalize. 21.Nxd4 Rb6 22.Bxb7 R8xb7 Things have been going fine for Topalov who enjoys a small plus, but the situation will soon change!








23.Kg2. 23.Qf1!? is given as best by several engines. A sample line is 23...Rb2 24.Rc8+ Kh7? 25.Qd3+ (25.Nc4 Rxa2 26.Rb1!+-) 25...g6 26.Nc6+-; 23.N2b3!? would also be quite logical. 23...Ne5 24.Qc5? The real mistake, although White's advantage would more or less have disappeared with 23.Kg2. It is clear that Topalov is out of form and is playing much below his real level. 24...Qxc5 25.Rxc5 Rb2








Now Black is better. 26.R1c2 Nd3! 27.Rc8+ Kh7 28.N4f3








28...a5. This pawn is supposed to bring the victory later, so it's quite logical to push it! Still, this doesn't look like a real winning plan, especially considering Black had a much stronger possibility right now. 28...Ng4! 29.Nb3 Rxc2 (29...Rb8!? is a funny possibility, probably about equivalent to 29...Rxc2, but I quote it simply because I love this move!) 30.Rxc2 Rb4!? 31.h3 Ngxf2 32.Rxf2 Nxf2 33.Kxf2 Ra4 is another idea - more direct let's say. This should be winning for Black. Very often, two knights "alone" are a bad sign for the endgame.


Topalov has had a tough year despite a nice start.

29.h3 a4 30.a3 g5 31.Rxb2?! After 31.g4 I feel Black should be slightly better, but all engines insist on a 0.00 evaluation. After playing a match against Rybka and not winning a single game (no, I'm joking, I didn't actually play one but just guessed what the result would have been), I believe White should be able to draw... 31...Rxb2 32.Rc3??








Woah! A hallucination, I guess. 32...Nxf2! 33.Rc7 [33.Kxf2 Ne4+-+] 33...N2e4 0-1 [Click to replay]

With this victory, Carlsen has secured sole first with a 1.5 point lead over his nearest rivals, and also managed to finish the year as number one despite the shaky couple of months that started with the Olympiads.


Magnus besieged by fans for autographs after his win.

Pictures by Yu Feng

Cross table

Schedule and results

Round 1: Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Etienne Bacrot
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov
Round 2: Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wang Yue 
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 3: Friday, October 22, 2009
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Wang Yue
Veselin Topalov 
0-1
 Vishy Anand
Vugar Gashimov 
0-1
 Etienne Bacrot
Round 4: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Etienne Bacrot 
1-0
 Vishy Anand
Round 5: Sunday, October 24, 2010
Wang Yue 
0-1
 Etienne Bacrot
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Veselin Topalov
Round 6: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Wang Yue 
0-1
 Vishy Anand
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Round 7: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Etienne Bacrot
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Round 8: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wang Yue
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Etienne Bacrot  
½-½
 Vugar Gashimov
Round 9: Friday, October 29, 2010
Etienne Bacrot 
½-½
 Wang Yue
Vugar Gashimov 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 10: Saturday, October 30, 2010
Wang Yue 
   Veselin Topalov
Magnus Carlsen 
   Vugar Gashimov
Vishy Anand 
   Etienne Bacrot
Games – Report

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