A look back at CBM #191

by Nagesh Havanur
10/29/2019 – This previous edition of ChessBase Magazine offers games from Altibox Norway and GCT Zagreb (both won by Carlsen) and FIDE Candidates’ Tournament for Women’s World Championship (won by Goryachkina). 1324 OTB games in the Main Database and several others annotated in the DVD. Commentators include Fabiano Caruana, Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Postny and Mihail Marin. A review from NAGESH HAVANUR: "Not to be missed."

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“He revels in difficult positions.”

Even as I write these lines, Carlsen is leading the Fischer Random World Championship. Over the last few months Magnus has proved that he is hard to beat. Like Botvinnik, he revels in playing difficult positions. He sets problems that are not easy to solve for his opponent. One only has to look at his games from the Altibox Norway and GCT Zagreb in this issue of ChessBase Magazine. They are tough heavy-weight battles and importantly the opponents did not go like lambs to the slaughter. They fought. Both events were dominated by Carlsen and quite a few of his are annotated by his second, Peter Heine Nielsen. It is not easy to do justice to these long and complex games in a short review. For a change I have chosen a position that can be enjoyed by anyone.

A challenge for young readers

Here is a tense moment from the Aronian vs Carlsen, second round Armageddon encounter.

It appears that Black has an irresistible threat with …♝xf3 followed by mate on g2. The challenge for young readers is to find the right move to upset Black’s apple cart. Would that win or draw? Your guess is as good as mine. 


Altibox Norway Chess Round 2

Magnus did well in this tournament scoring 13½ points out of 18. He had his ups and downs, though, in the 7th Norway Blitz event. He came only third after his nemesis, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian (second on tie-break).

Magnus versus Maxime

The games between Magnus and Maxime are keenly contested. The world champion was first in Grand Chess Tour, Zagreb ahead of Wesley So and Levon Aronian. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave finished last, losing his individual encounter to Magnus. His sole satisfaction was beating Magnus in the blitz tournament that preceded the main event at Zagreb. This issue includes all the games from the main event. Hopefully, the magazine would also include the games from the blitz event in coming months.

Vachier-Lagrave and Carlsen

Carlsen extends his hand in resignation, a rare event these days | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The Battle of Eve

The Candidates’ Tournament for Women’s World Championship was won by Aleksandra Goryachkina. She was assured of her title before the final round. She allowed herself a loss only in the last round to Mariya Muzychuk who also won a brilliancy prize for the game.


On the rise: Aleksandra Goryachkina | Photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Yet another challenge for young readers

However, I was more impressed by the striking finish in the following position. White knight is attacked and the king is threatened by continuous checks on the first and second ranks. Can he still make headway?


To return to the current issue, there are as many as 11 opening surveys ranging from the Sicilian to the King’s Indian.  Among them I would single out the analysis of a line in Winawer by Krisztian Szabo and another on the Najdorf  by Adhiban Baskaran.

French Winawer 7.♕g4 0-0 8.♗d3 f5 (C18)

Szabo convincingly demonstrates that Black has less counter play in this variation. In my view there is a fundamental flaw in Black’s setup. When he castles on the kingside and plays…f7-f5, he fatally weakens g6 and literally walks into an attack by White. He is too slow to develop his pieces on the queenside and they are not able to participate in the main action. Instead Black should play 7…♛c7 allowing White to follow up with 8.♕xg7 ♜g8 9.♕xh7. Meanwhile Black would pile up pressure on the centre and prise it open. There is a rich amount of theory on this variation. Players with White can of course the adventurism with 7.♕g4 and instead play the positional 7.♘f3.

Adhiban Baskaran’s commentary on 6.h3 against Sicilian Najdorf is good. He rightly refers to an improvement suggested by Vachier-Lagrave after he lost a game to Anand way back in 8th London Classic 2016. Curiously, no one seems to have ventured with this line during the last three years. Perhaps it needs more tests over the board.

As for the rest of his analysis, a few  more questions need to be answered for the sake of young players not familiar with theory. I have done the same in the following analysis:

Sicilian Najdorf 6.h3 (B90)

Apart from these surveys, there are regular sections on opening traps, middlegame tactics and endings.

There is much else in this DVD that deserves to be explored. The Main Database has 1324 OTB games of  which 34 are annotated. The commentators include Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand among others, not to mention regular columnists like Evgeny Postny and Mihail Marin.

Elisabeth Paehtz delights readers!

I should make a special mention of Elisabeth Paehtz who has annotated two games from the Candidates’ Tournament for Women’s World Championship. Her personal knowledge of participants and incisive analysis of their play make the games worth watching for her commentary alone. She has erudition and wit. Importantly, she has a word of sympathy for the loser even as she appreciates superlative play by the winner. Encore!

Elisabeth Paehtz

Elisabeth Paehtz | Photo: | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund



Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as "chessbibliophile") is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for nearly three decades. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.


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