Zurich 03: "Freak Occurrence"

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/1/2014 – In a performance that would bewilder Harry Houdini, Magnus Carlsen has not only escaped from the grasp of defeat at the hands of Hikaru Nakamura, but he was able to turn the game around and somehow win. The American played better than the Norwegian, but an inexplicable and costly blunder turned the tides and it was he who was faced with a loss Report of a miracle.

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The «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» will be the first encounter between the newly crowned World Champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, and the former title holder, India’s Viswanathan Anand after their recent match in Chennai. From Wednesday, 29 January to Tuesday, 4 February 2014, they will compete in the 3rd Zurich Chess Challenge along with four other great chess stars: Levon Aronian (Armenia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Fabiano Caruana (Italy) and Boris Gelfand (Israel).

Round Three

Round 3 – February 01, 15:00h
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
½-½
Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2872

Without a shadow of a doubt, the game of the day was between Nakamura and Carlsen, so we will save that one for last.

Gelfand has no problems holding Aronian to a draw in today's game. He employed the rock solid c6-d5 system against the Fianchetto Grunfeld and he obtained a slightly worse position, but just one inaccuracy by the Armenian meant that Gelfand had the opportunity to fully equalize and he took it. The draw was not very eventful and it was not very long, so a rapid game was played.

The rapid was far more interesting, Aronian sacrificed a piece for the intiative and obtained a pleasant position. Gelfand didn't defend well and his position collapsed quickly. Here is the rapid game:

[Event "Zurich CC 2014 - Rapid"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2014.02.01"] [Round "3"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E01"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "SUI"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. g3 c5 5. Bg2 cxd4 6. O-O Bc5 7. Nxd4 dxc4 8. Qa4+ Qd7 9. Nb5 O-O 10. Qxc4 Qe7 11. b4 Bb6 12. a4 Bd7 $5 {Setting up the following attack.} 13. a5 Bxf2+ $5 {It's unclear if this really works, but in a rapid game it is not so easy to solve these kinds of problems. It's nice to see the players not 'playing for anything' because they can feel free to sacrifice and go crazy.} 14. Kxf2 Rc8 15. Qd3 Nd5 16. Kg1 (16. N1c3 $1 Nxc3 17. Nxc3 {holds since the double attack doesn't do anything.} Qf6+ $2 18. Kg1 Qxc3 19. Qxc3 Rxc3 20. Bxb7 {and Black loses material anyways.}) 16... Qxb4 17. Nd4 Nc6 18. Nxc6 Bxc6 {The two pawns compensate the piece somewhat, but under normal circumstances surely Gelfand would win this game every time. However with the clock ticking and some threats in the air it's possible to confuse your opponent.} 19. Qd2 Qc5+ 20. Kh1 Nf6 21. Bb2 Ng4 22. Qd4 $4 {A horrible blunder that turns the tide of the game!} Bxg2+ 23. Kxg2 Ne3+ 24. Kf2 Qxd4 25. Bxd4 Nxf1 26. Kxf1 Rc1+ {Unfortunately for Gelfand his pieces will never untangle, which means that Black's position is already winning.} 27. Kf2 Rac8 28. Bxa7 e5 29. Be3 Rd1 30. g4 f6 31. h3 Kf7 {A fun little game. Gelfand resigned because in the long run he cannot stop the b1 knight from dropping.} 0-1

Aronian couldn't force anything in the normal game but in the rapid he went crazy!

Caruana-Anand was only marginally more interesting. The Italian had some chances to maybe get an initaitive thanks to Anand's strange and passive 16...Nf8?! However he returned the favor by playing 19.Bxf4 instead of the more aggressive 19.Nxf4 keeping the pair of bishops, which would have promised him the chance to activate thetm in an open position. With the opposited colored bishops on the board Anand correctly sacrificed a pawn to quell the opponent's initiative and to start one of his own.

Caruana probably wanted to cause more problems than he did in today's game

Caruana saw no reason to go into such complications, returned the pawn and the game was soon drawn afterwards in a position in which Black had no danger at all of being worse, but it's unlikely he could have pushed much further.

A solid draw is a good step in the right direction for Anand

Nakamura started the game fantastically, and then one of the strangest things in chess history happened. Take a look:

[Event "Zurich Chess Challenge 2014"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2014.02.01"] [Round "?"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E20"] [Annotator "Chirila,Cristian"] [PlyCount "122"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceDate "2014.02.01"] {What a crazy game! Nakamura has recently grasped the attention of chess fans after his famous tweet in which he proclaims himself as the saviour of the chess world from the hands of Sauron Carlsen, and throughout this game his predictions seemed to become reality. But Sauron was quite a malificent guy... } 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 {As expected Nakamura is going for the kill and looks for complex structures from the start} (4. Qc2 {and}) (4. e3 { are the more quiet approaches to this opening}) 4... d5 5. a3 Be7 (5... Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. dxc5 Qa5 9. e4 {Is the other main line, with very complicated middle game positions arising}) 6. e4 dxe4 7. fxe4 e5 8. d5 Bc5 9. Bg5 O-O (9... h6 10. Bh4 Bd4 11. Nf3 c5 $13) 10. Nf3 Bg4 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 { Nakamura got exactly what he wanted, it is a well known fact that Carlsen prefers positions in which long maneouvres are predominant, here white will castle long and soon we will witness a pawn race in the quest of opening up the opponent's king} Nbd7 13. O-O-O Bd4 14. Ne2 c5 15. g4 a5 (15... h6 16. Bh4 Qb6 17. Rd2 a5 18. Kb1 a4 19. g5 $40) (15... a6 16. Kb1 b5 17. cxb5 axb5 18. Nxd4 cxd4 19. Bxb5 Nc5 {would have been an interesting try to open up the position and look for counterplay}) 16. Kb1 $16 {I prefer white's position and I will even go further and assign him an almost winning advantage, black will not have an easy task reaching white's king while his defense on the king side will be extremely difficult} Ra6 17. Ng3 g6 (17... a4 18. Nf5 g6 19. Nh6+ Kg7 20. h4 Rb6 21. Rh2 Rb3 22. Rd3 $16) 18. h4 a4 19. Rh2 (19. Bh6 $5 {This was the easier way of gaining material and keep the pawn wave flowing} Rb6 (19... Re8 20. g5 Nh5 21. Nxh5 gxh5 22. Qxh5 $18) 20. Rh2 Rb3 21. Rd3 Rxd3 22. Bxd3 $18) 19... Qa5 20. Bd2 Qc7 21. g5 (21. h5 {was another possibility, many moves keep a big advantage for white} Rb6 22. Bh6 Rb3 23. Rd3 Rxd3 24. Bxd3 Ra8 25. Ne2 Ra6 26. Nxd4 cxd4 (26... exd4 27. Bf4 Ne5 28. Qg3 Nfd7 29. hxg6 Rxg6 30. Bc2 $16) 27. c5 $18) 21... Ne8 22. h5 Rb6 23. Bc1 Rb3 24. Qg4 Nb6 25. Be2 Nd6 26. Rdh1 (26. hxg6 $5 fxg6 27. Rdh1 Bxb2 (27... Qf7 28. Rxh7 Qxh7 29. Rxh7 Kxh7 30. Qh3+ Kg8 31. Qe6+ $18) 28. Qe6+ Kh8 29. Rxh7+ Qxh7 30. Qxd6 $18) 26... Bxb2 $1 {I will assign this move an explamation mark because of the practical aspect of it, white now will have to deal with the pressure of being attacked, while previously he only had to care about his attack succeeding} (26... Qd7 27. Qh4 Bxb2 28. hxg6 Bxc1+ 29. Kxc1 fxg6 30. Bg4 $18) 27. Bxb2 Nbxc4 28. Bxc4 Nxc4 29. hxg6 Qb6 (29... Nxb2 30. g7 Nd3+ 31. Kc2 Rd8 32. Qf5 $18) 30. g7 (30. gxf7+ Rxf7 31. Nh5 $1 {This is the only move that wins immediately, it is not easy to be so cold blooded when your king is so exposed} Rxb2+ 32. Ka1 Rxh2 33. Nf6+ $18) 30... Rd8 31. Qh4 Rxb2+ 32. Ka1 Rxh2 33. Rxh2 Qg6 34. Nf5 Re8 35. Qg4 Qb6 36. Qh3 Qg6 {So far Nakamura managed to keep a cool head and preserve his advantage, but in time trouble and under a lot of pressure, he blunders incredibly} 37. d6 $4 (37. Qf1 $1 b5 38. Rxh7 $3 Qxh7 (38... Kxh7 39. Qh3+ Kg8 40. Qh8#) 39. Nh6+ Qxh6 40. gxh6 $18) 37... Nxd6 38. Nxd6 Rd8 39. Nc4 (39. Nc8 Kxg7 40. Ne7 Rd1+ 41. Ka2 Qe6+ 42. Qxe6 fxe6 43. Rh6 $14 {White keeps a small advantage but he will need a lot of technique to press black}) 39... Qxe4 40. Qh5 (40. Ne3 $8 Qd3 41. Nf5 Qd1+ 42. Kb2 Rd2+ 43. Rxd2 Qxd2+ 44. Kb1 Qd1+ 45. Kb2 Qd2+ $11) 40... Rd3 $1 $19 {White's idea is to play Qe2 and create some sort of a blockade surrounding his king, Carlsen wisely predicts his opponent's idea and takes control of the game} 41. Rh4 Qf5 42. Qe2 b5 43. Nd2 Qxg5 {Magnus chooses the best practical to convert his advantage, exchaning the rooks and entering an endgame with a crushing advantage} (43... Rxa3+ 44. Kb2 Rg3 45. Ne4 {white may get some counterplay against black's king, the game continuation is much safer}) 44. Qxd3 Qxh4 45. Ne4 Kxg7 46. Qf3 Qf4 47. Qg2+ Kf8 48. Kb2 h5 {Magnus is completely winning, he is never letting such positions slip away} 49. Nd2 h4 50. Kc2 b4 51. axb4 cxb4 52. Qa8+ {Black sacrifices a pawn to diver the queen to the queenside, after which no one will successfully stop the h-pawn.} Kg7 53. Qxa4 h3 54. Qb3 h2 55. Qd5 e4 $1 {The nail in the coffin, the rest is just basic Calculation for Carlsen.} 56. Qh5 e3 57. Nf3 e2 58. Kb3 f6 59. Ne1 Qg3+ 60. Ka4 Qg1 61. Qxe2 Qa7+ {An amazing escape by the World Champion and a heartbreaking loss for Nakamura.} 0-1

Daniel Kings shows the game Nakamura vs Carlsen

There are simply no words to describe what happened. It would have been Nakamura's first win against Carlsen in classical chess and it was close to being a complete domination. Nakamura played better, understood the position better, and yet when it came to giving the final blow he blanked out and he even lost the game.

The game was seen with intensity by grandmasters and spectators all over the world. Today the Playchess server had almost 9000 users connected simultaneously - most of them watching the Nakamura-Carlsen game! Carlsen remarked after the game that he was sure there were multiple ways of winning, but as long as material was equal and nothing immediate was hanging all he could do was play moves and hope to get lucky. He also pointed out that Nakamura doesn't usually get these kinds of chances against him.

He dominated his opponent, buut one bad move is all it takes in chess...

Carlsen used one of his nine lives today. Maybe one of his one thousand lives....

The sponsors of the event, Oleg and Natalia Skvortsov, enjoyed the game until the very end

Peter Heine Nielsen and Henrik Carlsen interviewed after what must have been a torturous session

Replay round three games

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Cristian Chirila - Guest Commentator

Former World u-16 Champion and currently a grandmaster finishing his studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, Cristian is an ambitious chess player. Find out more about Cristian, including his chess lesson services, biography and games here.

Maria Emelianova - Photographer

Maria Emelianova is 26 years old, born in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Women FIDE Master, with a 2113 Elo rating. After finishing school Maria moved to Moscow to study at the university, so chess was forgotten for some time. She worked for about a year with Alexander Roshal in the chess magazine "64". Her carrier as a chess photographer started at the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. "It was just a hobby, but somehow became an interesting job," says Maria, who works with a Canon 1DX. "Now I am finishing my studies at two universities in Moscow, and am looking forward to a future in the big world of chess."

Schedule and Pairings

The event is a six player round robin, with a rate of play of 40 moves in 120 minutes, then 20 moves in 60 minutes and the rest of game in 15 minutes, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61. Special rule: in case of a draw before move 40, an additional rapid game will be played (which does not count for the overall result).

Wed. January 29: 19:00  Opening Ceremony & Blitz
Thu. January 30: 15:00  Round 1
Fri. January 31: 15:00  Round 2
Sat. February 01: 15:00  Round 3
Sun. February 02: 15:00  Round 4
Mon. February 03: 15:00  Round 5
Tue. February 04: 13:00  Rapid Tournament 19:00  Closing Ceremony
  • The blitz will be used to determine the colors
  • The classical time control gives two points to wins, one for draws and none for losses
  • The rapid time control gives one point to wins, half to draws and none for losses

The winner will be the one who scores the most points between the classical tournament and the rapid.

Schedule of Commentary

Date   English German
30.01.2014 Round 1 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
31.01.2014 Round 2 Daniel King Oliver Reeh
01.02.2014 Round 3 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff
02.02.2014 Round 4 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
03.02.2014 Round 5 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff

Schedule and results

Round 1 – January 30, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
1-0
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Aronian, Levon 2812
1-0
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Round 2 – January 31, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2812
Gelfand, Boris 2777
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Anand, Vishy 2773
0-1
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 3 – February 01, 15:00h
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
½-½
Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Round 4 – February 02, 15:00h
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Anand, Vishy 2773
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
 
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
 
Aronian, Levon 2812
Round 5 – February 03, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Anand, Vishy 2773
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Aronian, Levon 2812
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Gelfand, Boris 2777

Rapid Schedule

Round 1
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Anand, Vishy 2773   Aronian, Levon 2812
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 2
Aronian, Levon 2812   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Anand, Vishy 2773
Round 3
Anand, Vishy 2773   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Aronian, Levon 2812
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 4
Anand, Vishy 2773   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 5
Anand, Vishy 2773   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789

Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Topics Zurich 2014

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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