(1) Aronian,L (2737) - Carlsen,M (2775) [A32]
Grand Slam Final Bilbao ESP (1), 02.09.2008
[Mikhail Golubev (www.chesstoday.net)]

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.g3 Bb4+ 6.Nd2
Diagram # This is quite a rare line of the English Opening, though it sometimes occurs at the GM level.

6...Nc6 7.Nc2 Be7 8.Bg2 0-0 9.0-0 Rb8
[Black has also tried 9...a6 (Alburt-Short, Foxboro 1985); and 9...d5 as Buchmann-I.Nikolaidis, Fuerth 2002 and several other games]

10.Ne4!?N b5 11.cxb5 Rxb5 12.Nd6 Bxd6 13.Qxd6 Bb7 14.Na3 Rb6
Diagram #

[After the tempting 15.Nc4 Ra6 the knight is placed not so well on c4, as Black is planning ...Na5. And if 16.Bd2 , then 16...Ne7! ]

[Here after 15...Ra6 16.Rfd1!? (or 16.Rfc1!? ) 16...Ne7 17.Qd3 Black can not capture on g2 because the rook on a6 needs protection. So, Black accepts the pawn sacrifice.]

16.Bc5 Re8
Diagram #

[Interesting, but not so clear is 17.Nc4!? Rxe2 18.Qd1 Ba6 19.Qxe2 d5 20.Rfc1 Qc8 (or maybe 20...Qa8!? ) 21.Nd6 Bxe2 22.Nxc8 Rxc8 ]

17...Rxb1 18.Rxb1 Ba6!
[Safer than 18...Ba8 19.Nb5 Qb8 20.Rb3!? with the idea of 20...Na5 21.Bxa7 ]

19.Nb5 Bxb5 20.Rxb5 Qc8 21.a4 h6
[Not 21...Qa6? 22.Bxc6 and 22...dxc6? fails to 23.Rb8 ]

[22.e4!? was preferable, with sufficient compensation for the pawn.]

22...Qa6! 23.Bb2 Qxa4!=/+
Diagram # Now White should fight for equality.

[Another option was 24.Rc5 ]

24...dxc6 25.Rb4 Qa5 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Rg4+ Kh7 28.Qxc6
[Here, a sensible alternative was 28.Qd7 Rf8 29.Rf4!? ]

28...Rd8 29.Qc2+?!
[After 29.Ra4! (M.Notkin, ChessPro.ru) Black hardly has any serious winning chances.]

29...f5 30.Ra4?!
[Probably better was 30.Kg2 with the idea of 30...Qe1?! 31.Qc7! ]

30...Qe1+ 31.Kg2 Rd1!-/+
Diagram # Now it is really unpleasant - White is still a pawn down, and he is also under attack.

[32.Rxa7? loses to 32...Qh1+ 33.Kh3 Rg1 (or 33...Qf1+ 34.Kh4 Qg2 ) ]

32...Kg6 33.Kf3! Qh1+ 34.Ke3
Here, instead of "playing for a mate", Carlsen makes a remarkable decision:

This forces White to exchange rooks - quite an achievement for Black.

[Not 35.Rc4? Ra3+ 36.Kd2 Qd5+ ]

35...Rxa4 36.Qxa4
Diagram #

[After 36...Qe4+ 37.Qxe4 fxe4 38.Kxe4 This pawns ending is complex as it is not easy for Black to attack the white pawns with the king. An illustrative line is 38...a5 39.Kd4 Kf5 40.h3 a4 41.Kc4 Ke4 42.Kb4 Kd4 43.Kxa4 Kc3 44.g4 e5 45.h4 f6 46.Kb5 Kd2 47.e3 e4 48.Kc5 Ke2 49.Kd5 Kf3 50.h5 Kxg4 51.Kxe4 and White even wins!]

37.Kf3 Qc3+ 38.Kg2 a5 39.g4
A logical attempt: White must exchange a pawn to create more chances for the perpetual check.

39...Qe5 40.gxf5+ Kxf5 41.Qe8 Kg6
Diagram # Still, Black's king is placed quite safely - White should not be able to survive.

42.Qf8 a4 43.e3 Qe4+ 44.Kg3 Qd3 45.h4 a3 46.Kh2
[46.h5+ Kxh5 47.Qxf7+ loses to 47...Qg6+ , check!]

[46...a2 47.h5+ Kf6 48.Qxh6+ Ke7 49.Qg5+ Kf8 can be winning, but it is hard to calculate such a line accurately]

47.Qxa3 Qxf2+ 48.Kh3 Qf3+ 49.Kh2 Kh5 50.Qf8 Qf2+ 51.Kh1 Kg4 0-1