(1) Carlsen - Dominguez [D81]
Corus Chess 2009 (10), 2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Qb3
In Russian chess literature, the systems with Qb3 is associated with the name of our Patriarch, Mihkail Moisevich Botvinnik. Admittedly, he used to la the move after first interpolating 4.Nf3 Bg7.

4...dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bg7 6.e4
White has taken over the centre completely. And please note that his knight is still on g1. The subtle point of this is t deprive Black of the move Bg4.

6...0-0 7.Be2 Nfd7
Dominguez follows another of the game's greats, Vassily Smyslov. The tranefr of the knight to the queenside opens the diagonal for the Bg7 , which attacks the d4-pawn.

There was already a threat of Nb6, followed by taking on d4. The knight on g1 still remains at home.

8...Nb6 9.Qd3
[In a number of games, White has advanced he queen, which looks somewhat paradoxical, eg. 9.Qc5 f5 10.Nf3 fxe4 11.Nxe4 N8d7 12.Qc2 Nf6 13.0-0 Nbd5 14.Bc4 c6 15.Nc5 Kh8 16.Ne5 Qd6 17.Qe2 Nh5 18.Ne4 Qd8 19.Ng5 Qe8 20.f4 e6 21.Rae1 and White's advantage was obvious Bluvstein-Zugic, Montreal 2008)]

A typical blow. Black has not managed to attack the central dark squares successfully, so he switches his attention to the light squares. The automatic reply e4-e5 would present him with a georgeous square on d5. [In the game Kramnik-Dominguez Dresden 2008, after 9...Nc6 10.Rd1 f5 11.Nf3 f4 12.Bc1 Bg4 13.e5 Qd7 14.Ne4 Rad8 15.Nc5 Qc8 16.Qc3 e6 17.h3 Bh5 18.0-0 the ex-world champion obtained some advantage, but later even had to fight for a draw. ]

An unusual move. White again protects the pawn on d4 and prepares the square c1 as a retreat for the bishop, which will not now interfere with the development of the queen's rook. [If 10.Nf3 f4 11.Bd2 Nc6 12.d5 Ne5 (12...Nb4 13.Qb1 e6 is also interesting) 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 Black has decent play. Later he can break up the white centre with c7-c6 or e7-e6.]

[Nonetheless, Black puishes the bishop back, seizing space and gaining a tempo, but he pays a rather high price in terms of reduced pressure on the white centre, especially the square e4. I was looking at straightforward pressure on the light squares with 10...Nc6 11.Nf3 Nb4 12.Qd2 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Bf5 14.Qxb4 Bxe4 but found that this runs into the nice refutation 15.d5! with the point that Black cannot take on d5: 15...Bxd5? 16.Bxb6 axb6 17.Rxd5! Qxd5 18.Bc4 ]

11.Bc1 e5
[This is an idea of the Azeri GM, Mamedyarov. Black also refrains from developing his queen's knight, with pressure on d4. Instead of this he blockades the centre. If he succeeds in stabilising things, then he can later start gradually to develop an attack on the kingsgide, where the white king is likely to end up being located. Instead, the moves 11...Nc6 12.Nf3 would transpose back into Kramnik-Dominguez, given above.]

[Objectively the strongest move. After 12.Nf3 exd4 13.Nxd4 c5! 14.Ndb5 Qxd3 15.Bxd3 Nc6 Black has no problems.; Nor is 12.dxe5 Qxd3 13.Bxd3 Nc6 14.Nf3 Nxe5 any better.]

The planned break. Black fights actively for the centre, not cnceding White an inch.

It is time for the subtlety to end. There is no longer any reason to delay the development of the knight. [13.d6 does not bother Black, wo calmly develops around the d6-pawn: 13...Be6! ; Likewise, 13.a4 is well met by 13...a5! ]

13...cxd5 14.Nxd5
[The only hope of an advantage. After 14.exd5?! Bf5 it is already Black who can hope for more than equality. White does not want to allow e5-e4, of course, but the white knight on e4 does not sit in comfort: 15.Ne4 Na6 16.Nfg5 Nc5 17.Qf3 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 Nc8 19.0-0 Bxe4 20.Qxe4 Nd6 21.Qa4 e4 with initiative to Black.]

14...Nxd5 15.Qb3!
[Novelty! So it is clear - Magnus has stidied the line, and found an improvement. Whit avoids the queen exchange and maintains the tension in the centre. In the game Jakovenko-Mamedyarov Elista 2008, there followed 15.Qxd5+ Qxd5 16.exd5 Bf5 17.0-0 Nd7 and Black had completely solve dhis opening problems. The remainder of the game contained many subtleties and ended in a draw: 18.Rfe1 a6 19.Bd2 Rac8 20.Ng5 Rc2 21.Ne6 Rfc8 22.Nxg7 Kxg7 23.Bc3 Kf6 24.Bf3 b5 25.g4 fxg3 26.hxg3 b4 27.Bxb4 Rxb2 28.a3 Rcc2 29.g4 Rxf2 30.Rf1 Rxf1+ 31.Rxf1 Bc2 etc.]

The most solid. There is no sense in leaving the king on the "diagonal of death", and the knight cannot be saved anyway. [Against 15...Qb6 White had prepared 16.Bc4! and in the endgame, White will have a solid advantage, with a bishop or rook on d5.]

Finally White's idea becomes clear. He will keep the pawn on e4, so as not to have to worry about the advance e5-e4 and to keep the bishop on g7 quiet. Let it just sit and gaze at its own pawn! Meanwhile, the d5 point will serve as a major outpost for the white pieces, from which they will control the whole board.

Black in his turn will try o exploit the square d4. But the most he can ever achieve is to move the pawn from e5 to d4, and this is hardly likely to be enough to give fully equal chances. For example, the pawn on d4 could later become an object of attack.

The bishop is the first to "reach the summit". It exerts unpleasant pressure on the black queenside. Similar structures arise in the King's Indian Defence, and are regarded as slightly better for White.

[A sensible reaction, but the product of a long think. The clock times have changed sharply: 1.20 - 0.54. There is no question of who has the initiative, who has prepared the more thoroughly... Here is an illustrative variation,showing why the knight jump to d4 does not work: 17...Nd4 18.Nxd4 exd4 19.0-0 Be5 20.Rd3! Qf6 21.Bd2 g5 22.Bb4 Rd8 23.Bc5 b6 (23...g4 24.Rfd1! ) 24.Bxd4 Bxd4 25.Rxd4 Qxd4 26.Rd1 Qf6 27.Bxa8 and White remains with an xtra pawn, since Black cannot win it back: 27...Rxd1+ 28.Qxd1 Qxb2 29.Qd8+ Kg7 30.Qxg5+ followed by 31.h4, with a clear advantage to White.]

A good prophylactic move. The knight on f3 is very important in the battle for the centre. Carlsen prevents Bc8-g4 and reduces the likelihood of the storm g6-g5-g4. One does not need a microscope to see White's further plan:Bc1-d2-c3, 0-0, Qb3-b5 etc. Passive play by Black looks doomed in the long run; he needs to come up with some way to create counterplay!

[And Lenier Dominguz finds a way. Here, 18...Nd4 was again insufficient: 19.Nxd4 exd4 20.Bd2! Qe5 21.Bb4 Re8 22.0-0 there is no threat of f4-f3, so castling is possible 22...Be6 23.Rfe1 Rad8 24.Bd2! and suddenly all Black's pawns are hanging. Against 24...b6 there is 25.Bxe6 Rxe6 26.Bxf4! ]

[Very quickly played. Maybe even too quickly... In this concrete position, the sudden change of plan looks strong: 19.0-0 Nxd5 20.exd5! The point is that the black queen is badly placed, and the e5 pawn weak. Here is an illustrative variation of this: 20...Bf5 (20...e4 21.Rfe1! ) 21.Rfe1 Qd6 22.Bd2 a5 23.Nxe5! Bxe5 24.Rxe5 and now there is no 24...Qxe5? because of 25.Bc3 ]

An excellent blow! Dominguez times it very well - when his opponent has seized the centre, but not yet completed his development. This justifies Black launching sharp play.

[Carlsen cold-bloodedly asks to see what his opponent has got. He does not believe it! A more cautious player would have hurried to simplfy the position: 20.Bd2 bxc4 21.Qxb4 the weakness of the e5 pawn gives White some advantage. The game might continue 21...Qxb4 22.Bxb4 Re8 23.0-0 Bb7 24.Rfe1 Kg8 25.Rd7 Bc6 26.Rc7 Rec8 27.Rxc8+ Rxc8 28.Bc3 Re8 29.Nd2 Bb5 and Black holds.]

[Accurate calculation. To assess the position after 20...Be6 21.Bc4 Bxc4 22.Qxc4 Rac8 23.Qb3 Nc2+ 24.Kf1 at the board would be practically impossible. It is clear that Black has some compensation for the pawn, but is it enough? After the deepest analysis, Black seems OK, but in a practical struggle, I would rate his chances as slightly inferior. ]

[It looks as though the black knight is trapped, but Black has a way out. Exchanging pieces by 21.Qxa2 Qb4+ 22.Bd2 Qxb5 was unfavourable for White, whose kng cannot escape from the centre. ]

21...Rb8 22.Qa4
[Here the exchange by 22.Qxa2 Rxb5 is not so bad, since White now has 23.0-0! But White does not achieve any advantage, since Black quickly creates strong piece pressure: 23...Be6 24.Qa1 Bb3 25.Rc1 Qb7 26.Rfe1 Rd8 etc.]

[Lenier forces exchanges. The move 22...Be6 was also interesting. By supporting the errant knight Black prepares a queen move to b7 or c5. I think that in this case, White would have to play accurately to equalize. ]

[There is no real alternative. The various bishop retreats can only rebound on White: 23.Bc4? Qxe4+ ; 23.Bc6 Qa6! ; 23.Be2 Be6! ]

23...Qxb5 24.Qxa2 Qxb2 25.Qxa7
The queenside is completely emptied of pawns. The interest in the game now centres around the pawn on e5. Can White bring serious pressure to bear on it?

A slightly too obvious attempt to make a draw. Evidently, his time deficit shortage and excessive respect for his opponent is making Dominguez nervous. [He should have preferred the banal 25...Be6 with equal chances.]

Rather an artificial move. Carlsen senses his opponent's feelings and tries to complicate the game. [White could have obtained a lasting advantage in the endgame after 26.Ra1 Be6 27.Qxb7 Rxb7 28.Rfc1 His rooks can penetrate the black camp. But evidently, Magnus did not think this amounted to much. He knows his stuff, of course, but in my analysis, the more I look, the more difficult it seems for Black. ]

Correct. He needs to activate his pieces. [It was also not very practical to calculate complicated variatiosn involving the capture on e4. For example, after 26...Qxe4 27.Bc3 Bb7 28.Bxe5 Bxe5 29.Rfe1 Qf5 30.Nxe5 White creates unpleasant pressure in the centre.]

[Continuing to press. Nothing comes from 27.Nxe5 Qxe4 28.Rfe1 Qf5! ; whilst Carlsen refrained from 27.Bc3 because of 27...Rfc8 28.Qa3 Qb3 ]

A strong retort. It is already clear that the rather light-hearted raid by the white queen, more suitable for a blitz game than a serious tournament encounter, has allowed Black to solve his defensive problems. And now the Norwegian GM is thinking seriously. Today he has not handled his clock very well. When he needed to think, he has played quickly, and when he has had a natural move, he has hesitated. This is very much a sign of poor form in a player. The clock times now are: 0.50 - 0.07.

[the pin on the b-file is not dangerous, but nor was 28.Rc1 Qxe4 29.Rfe1 Qd5! any stronger.]

A sad sign for Carlsen. White can regain the pawn, of course, but with that his list of achievements ends.

29.Bc3 Rbd8 30.Qa3 Bc2?!
[But time-trouble has its effect after all! Having achieved full equality, Dominguez misplaces the bishop, and gives the game new interest. Correct was 30...Bd5! and whichever way White takes back the e5-pawn gives him nothing, eg. 31.Bxe5 Bxe5 32.Rfe1 Bd6 33.Qb2+ Be5 34.Qc1 (34.Nxe5?? Qxg2# ; 34.Qb5 Qc4 ) 34...Qc4! ]

[This time the Norwegian GM does not hesitate. He transfers the rook to an active position, at the same time freeing the b2 square for the queen. An excellent regrouping! Also very attractive was 31.Rb4 eg. 31...Qd5 32.Qb2 Bf5 33.Bxe5 Bxe5 34.Nxe5 Kg8 35.Rxf4 and White wins a pawn, although admittedly, the win is not guaranteed.]

[There were not many candidate moves. Analysis shows, however,that 31...Qc6 was more reliable.]

Setting up a dangerous battery on the long diagonal.

[A serious mistake, bt one should not criticise the Cuban GM too harshlly for it. believe me, the position was too complicated! Lenier has instictively met blow with counterblow, but has miscalculated. He could have retained some chances of holding by 32...Be4 33.Bxe5 Qa7! ]

The decisive blow. The rook exploits the fact that the b7 square is no defended by te black bishop. White's pressure will turn into a mating attack, whilst the sacrifice on f1 is of no interest to anyone.

The last chance. [33...Bxf1 34.Bxe5 leads to mate.]

34.Qb4 Rfe8
Covering the e7 square and the e5 pawn, but in no way weakening White's attack. The clocks now read 0.18 - 0.03. [Now after 34...Bxf1 35.Qe7 Rg8 36.Bxe5 is decisive.]

[Remembering his past misfortunes in this tournament, Magnus is afraid of miscalculating. He could win at once by 35.Bxe5 Bxe5 36.Nxe5 Rxe5 37.Qxf4 Rf5 38.Qh6 forcing mate.]

35...Be2 36.Nxe5 Bxe5
[Black can hardly hope to save the game after 36...Qxc3 37.Qxc3 Bxe5 38.Qc5 etc.; whilst after 36...Rxe5 there follows 37.Bxe5 Bxe5 38.Qe7 ]

37.Bxe5+ Rxe5 38.Qxf4
The white queen penetrates decisively to the black king. Mate is forced.

38...Qf5 39.Qh6 1-0