(1) Dominguez Perez,L (2717) - Carlsen,M (2776) [B78]
XXVI SuperGM Linares ESP (9), 01.03.2009
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
(Practically, a Carlsen patent) 13.h4
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.]
[Carlsen had had this position, but sitting on the opposite side of the board. He carried out a highly original regrouping with 12.Kb1
White eventually won in Carlsen-Radjabov, Bilbao 2008, but the game was far from clear.]
[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.]
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.]
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.
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.
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
with a crushing initiative for Black.]
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.
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.]
The queen is taboo because of the back rank weakness, which leaves Black with absolute domination in the centre.
It frequently happens in the Dragon that a failed white attack results in the loss of the pawns involved in the process.
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+
[White has to give up the second pawn, because 43.bxa3
is met by the familiar 43...Qe5+
With two extra-pawns and a safer king, Black has little trouble winning.
There is no stalemate combination available. therefore, White resigned. 0-1