Smartfish sensation: Carlsen defeats Shirov

1/4/2005 – Here's the situation: a 14-year-old boy has to play a tournament game against one of the most dangerous players in the world, one of the top ten no less. But it is firebrand Alexei Shirov who succumbs to the ferocious attack and relentless pressure of his youthful opponent. Illustrated report.

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Drammen International
Chess Festival

27.12.2004 – 05.01.2005

Official web site

Round seven of the Smartfish Chess Masters saw women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova score her first full point in this tournament – and a fine victory it was, over Kjetil Lie, who is trying to complete his GM norms. Luke McShane, who is in good form, defeated former world champion Alexander Khalifman's B20 Sicilian.

But the game of the day was the encounter between the world's youngest GM, Magnus Carlsen, and one of the top ten players in the world, Alexei Shirov. Magnus had not been having a great tournament so far, but you wouldn't know it by the way he tackled Shirov. The 14-year-old threw everything he had at his opponent's king in one of the most exciting games of the tournament.

Carlsen,M (2581) - Shirov,A (2726) [C95]
Smartfish Masters Drammen NOR (7), 03.01.2005

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d6 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.b3 c6 16.Bg5 Bg7 17.Qd2 Qc7 18.a4 d5 19.dxe5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Bf4 Qe6 22.e5 Nd7 23.Bh6 Bh8 24.f4 Qe7 25.Re3 Nf8 26.Rf1 c5 27.f5 d4 28.cxd4 cxd4

Playing against one of the most dangerous super-GMs in the world the boy leaves his rook hanging and goes for a kingside assault: 29.fxg6!? hxg6? 29...dxe3 30.gxf7+ Qxf7 31.Rxf7 exd2 32.Rxb7 Rad8 33.Bd1 Rxe5 would have worked fine for Black. 30.Nf5. Carlsen has no inclination for the defensive 30.Qxd4, he is after blood. 30...gxf5 31.Rg3+ Ng6 32.Bxf5 Qxe5 33.Rg4 Bg7 34.Bxg6 fxg6 35.Rxg6 Re7 36.Rf4.

White's last move threatens 37.Rfg4 with a winning attack. But instead of 36...Bc8 Shirov finds the wrong defence: 36...Be4? 37.Rg5. Now Black doesn't have the vital queen check on e3. 37...Qe6 38.Bxg7. Black cannot recapture: 38.Bxg7 Rxg7 39.Rxg7+ Kxg7 40.Qxd4+ Kg8 41.Rxe4 leaves White with two pawns and a devastating attack. 1-0. So Magnus was a bit fortunate, but he earned his luck with a very spirited game against "fire-on-the-board" Alexei Shirov.


In this picture Carlsen has just played his final move, 38.Bxg7. Shirov realises that he is lost

At the end of the game Magnus was in terrible time trouble, and the audience was crossing their fingers, hoping for a draw. After the game the young lad told the audience that he had felt comfortable with his position all the way through the game. This sounded a bit strange, because GM Østenstad in the commentary room had been much more pessimistic. Shirov did not comment on his game. He was upset that he had lost to a blunder.

Cross table of the Smartfish Masters after seven rounds

Here are two more games involving the young GM in this very strong tournament.

Carlsen,M (2581) - McShane,L (2629) [E92]
Smartfish Masters Drammen NOR (4), 30.12.2004
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Na6 8.0-0 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.h3 Nf6 12.Be3 c6 13.c5 Nh5 14.Nd2 Nf4 15.Bxa6 bxa6 16.Nc4 Qe6 17.Nd6

In this position Luke McShane decided to force a draw against his youthful opponent: 17...Nxg2 18.Kxg2 Qxh3+ 19.Kg1 Bg4 20.f3 Qg3+ 21.Kh1 Qh3+ ½-½

Johannessen,LE (2519) - Carlsen,M (2581) [E98]
Smartfish Masters Drammen NOR (5), 01.01.2005

Position after 40...Rh6-h7?

41.Rb5 with the threat 42.Rb8, and Black cannot play 41...Rxa7 because of 42.Rb8+ Bg8 43.Nxc3 bxc3 44.Bc4. White won in 59 moves. 1-0.


Leif Erlend Johannessen, who defeated Kid Carlsen in round five

Picture gallery from earlier rounds


Antoaneta Stefanova vs OJ-armed Magnus Carlsen in round six


The women's world champion pressed for 77 moves with an extra pawn before conceding a draw.


The tournament leader and hot favourite: Peter Heine Nielsen


1.d4? Are you serious?? In round six Bartlomiej Macieja nursed a pawn advantage to a victory in 100 moves over Luke McShane

The organiser tells us that Bartlomiej Macieja has won the hearts of the audience. "He is a good player, but also a someone who will gladly explain his games in a way suitable for the audience. He is not into the glamour of being a strong GM, but a guy who spends his time talking to anyone about anything. Mr. Macieja is a gentleman and a professional, and an asset in any tournament."


Alex Khalifman, former FIDE world champion, paces the hall during round five


Kjetil Lie sacrificed an exchange for a tense draw against Alexander Khalifman


Korchnoi vs Macieja in round five ended in a draw after 41 moves


Viktor the Thirsty, with Peter Heine playing Etti Stefanova in the background


Antoaneta Stefanova, who has often played for the Bulgarian men's team


Top Danish player vs reigning women's world champion in round five


Alexei Shirov, currently number ten in the world, defeated Johannessen in round six


Viktor Korchnoi maintaining a 50% score


Alexander Khalifman in a typical pose

All pictures by Rune Elven


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