(1) Dominguez Perez,L (2717) - Carlsen,M (2776) [B78]
XXVI SuperGM Linares ESP (9), 01.03.2009
[Mihail Marin]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0

I cannot avoid being invaded by strong nostalgy whenever I watch a Dragon between top players. More than 15 years ago, I took up this romantic opening as my main weapon against 1.e4, despite theory's marked skepticism and obtained more than satisfactory results with it. On one of my bedroom's walls is hanging a painting which I earned as a beauty prize in a Spanish tournament, for a sacrificial Dragon win... And then after two years of romance, something awfull happened. Facing unexpected problems in his trademark Scheweningen Sicilian during the match against Anand, Kasparov unexpectedely switched to the Dragon. This proved to be a very inspired decision, allowing him to save his supreme crown. For me as a Dragon player, this was the end. Everybody started playing and analysing it and I felt that it had ceased to be MY opening...

[As far as I know, this is the first time that Carlsen plays the Chinese variation. His previous Dragon game against Lenier continued with 10...Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 a6 (Practically, a Carlsen patent) 13.h4 h5 and now White unleashed the dangerous 14.g4 Black managed to draw in Dominguez-Carlsen, Biel 2008, but later that year Topalov managed to break Carlsen's defence in the Grand Slam final.]

11.Bb3 Na5

[Carlsen had had this position, but sitting on the opposite side of the board. He carried out a highly original regrouping with 12.Kb1 b5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.Ka1 h5 16.Rb1 White eventually won in Carlsen-Radjabov, Bilbao 2008, but the game was far from clear.]

12...Bxh6 13.Qxh6 b5

[For a while, the sharp attacking move 14.h4 has been the main stream of theory, but later it was discovered that it leads to some sort of forced draw by perpetual check, with the white king wandering all over the board and analysis reaching the 40th move or so. The text move deprives the enemy bishop from the f5-square in view of the structural modifications that will follow.]

14...Nxb3+ 15.Nxb3 b4 16.Nd5 Nxd5 17.exd5
Instead of trying to mate the enemy king, White intends to setup pressure along the central files, in order to take advantage of the backward e7-pawn.

Black over-defends the d6-pawn in order to enable e7-e5, thus eliminating the weakness from e7. This move had been played only once before, by a young player rated more than 600 points below Carlsen...

[White consequently carries out his plan. The aforementioned game continued with 18.h4 , Maslak-Porat, Pardubice 2008.]

18...e5 19.dxe6 fxe6

Despite opposite castles, play has a pronounced strategic character. The mutual attacking actions against the enemy kings will be more of auxiliary operations, aiming to create some aditional weaknesses, rather than becoming a purpose in themselves. It may seem that Black has weakened his central pawns even more, but the white knight is not sufficiently well placed to put pressure against them. Moreover, the opening of the f-file has turned the f3-pawn into a chronic weakness. We can evaluate that the result of opening is satisfactory for Black.

20.Re3 Rf7 21.Nd2 d5 22.Nb3 Qc7 23.Kb1 Rb8!
The rook had done its job along the sixth rank. By returning to the back rank it would allow Black put the c2-pawn under pressure.

24.Rde1 Rc8

White has several ways to defend his pawn, but the problem is that this will prevent him from keeping the enemy centre blocked.

[White fails to stabilise the position with 25.Nd4 because of 25...Rf4 26.Rd3 e5 with a crushing initiative for Black.]

25...Qb6 26.h4
This is a desperate attempt to change the course of the game. Unfortunately for him, White will not manage to weaken the enemy king's defence in time.

26...d4 27.Re5 d3 28.cxd3 Rxf3

Black's initiative is very dangerous already, making the white king feel insecure.

[After this impulsive move, White finally gets into trouble. He should have abandoned his attacking dreams and returned with the queen to the defence with 29.Qd2 , but psychologycally this would have been quite a difficult choice.]

29...Bb5 30.R2e3 Bd3+ 31.Ka1 Qxd4!

The queen is taboo because of the back rank weakness, which leaves Black with absolute domination in the centre.

32.Rxe6 Rf1+ 33.Re1 Qxg4
It frequently happens in the Dragon that a failed white attack results in the loss of the pawns involved in the process.

34.Rxf1 Qxe6 35.Nc5 Qe2 36.Rc1 Bf5 37.Qf4 a5 38.h5 Qe7 39.Qc4+ Be6 40.Qc2 Qg5 41.hxg6 hxg6

A fantastic position. Despite the considerable number of pieces left on board, White is in zugzwang!!

[The knight is pinned, the queen and rook are immobile because they have to defend their colleague and 42.Kb1? loses the queen to 42...Bf5 .; Apart from that, 42.b3 loses the knight to 42...Qe5+ 43.Qb2 Rxc5 ]

42...bxa3 43.Qc3
[White has to give up the second pawn, because 43.bxa3 is met by the familiar 43...Qe5+ 44.Qb2 Rxc5 .]

43...axb2+ 44.Kxb2 Qd5

With two extra-pawns and a safer king, Black has little trouble winning.

45.Rc2 a4 46.Ka1 a3 47.Qe3 Bf7 48.Qc3 g5 49.Qe3 Re8 50.Qc3 Re2 51.Nb3 Rxc2 52.Qxc2 Qe5+ 53.Kb1 Kg7 54.Qd2 Bxb3
There is no stalemate combination available. therefore, White resigned. 0-1