Bilbao R1: Carlsen beats Aronian with black

9/2/2008 – The Super-super-GM in Bilbao started with a bang. Radjabov's Scotch against Topalov simplified to a drawn ending which was played out to bare kings. Anand had one of his sweating-blood games against Ivanchuk but survived in the end. Magnus Carlsen, the incredible young man from Norway, simply blew away world-class GM Levon Aronian with the black pieces. Big illustrated report.

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Grand Slam Chess Final Masters Bilbao

The Chess Grand Slam Final is being staged in Bilbao, Spain, from September 1st to 13th 2008. It is a six-player double round robin event, one of the strongest in the history of the game (at least by Elo average, 2775.6, making it a category 22 tournament). Games start at 17:00h local time (CEST). The scoring system in this tournament is different and experimental. Players get three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for losing a game. For rating purposes the traditional 1-½-0 system will be used. The prize fund for the event is 400,000 Euros, with the winner receiving €150,000, the second place €70,000, etc. with the 6th player getting €30,000. The sums are unprecedented for an event like this. Only World Championships have exceeded the amount.

Round one report

Round 1: Tuesday, 2nd September 2008
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen

The venue is the Plaza Nueva in the centre of Bilbao's Old Town. To make it possible to play a huge sound-proofed and air-conditioned glass enclosure has been built, under a marquee to protect the players from the sommer sun.


The tournament venue at the Plaza Nueva


The players are in a sound-proof glass "aquarium"


The control center for multimedia and Internet coverage of the event

The games


The Mayor of Bilbao, Iñaki Azkuna, executes the first move in Anand vs Ivanchuk


Ivanchuk reacting typically to 1.e4

Anand's anti-Marshall preparation did not look too impressive – Black had soon regained his pawn with some pressure against the weakened white king. Anand mislaid a pawn shortly after the time control and was left defending a difficult heavy piece ending. But he managed and the game was drawn after 58 moves.

Anand,V (2798) - Ivanchuk,V (2781) [C89]
Grand Slam Final Bilbao ESP (1), 02.09.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2 Re6 18.Qf1 Qh5 19.f3 Rf6. [19...Nxe3 20.Qf2 Nd5 21.fxg4 Qxg4 22.Qf3 Qg5 23.Rxe6 fxe6 24.Ne4 Qg6 25.Qe2 Nf4 26.Qc2 Nh3+ 27.Kg2 Qg4 28.Bxe6+ Qxe6 29.Qb3 Nf4+ 30.gxf4 Qxb3 31.axb3 Bxf4 32.Rxa6 Rc8 happened in Kramnik,V-Aronian,L, Yerevan 2007, where White won in 45 moves.

20.Qe2N. In previous games Jakovenko,D-Svidler,P, Moscow 2007 and Becker,M-Henao,L, IECG email 1995 20.Bd1 Re8 21.Bf4 Rxe1 22.Qxe1 Re6 23.Be5 was played and the games ended in draws. Anand runs into serious trouble with his novelty.

20...Bxf3 21.Nxf3 Rxf3 22.Bxd5 Qxd5 23.Bf2 Rf6 24.b3 Qf5 25.Rad1 h5 26.Rd3 h4 27.Re3 Rg6 28.c4 hxg3 29.hxg3 bxc4 30.bxc4 c5 31.Qf3 Qh3 32.Qg2 Qd7 33.dxc5 Bxc5 34.Re4 Qc7 35.Kh2 Rh6+ 36.Kg1 Rf6 37.Be3 Rd8 38.Kh2 Bxe3 39.R4xe3 Rh6+ 40.Kg1 Qc5 41.Qf2. The first time control has been met, and now, according to a Very Strong Player on Playchess.com "Anand is in big trouble – Black plays ...Qxc4 and has an extra pawn and better position." Ivanchuk takes his time with the c-pawn. 41...Qh5 42.Qg2 Rd2

43.Re8+. You see, of course, why the rook cannot be taken: 43.Qxd2 Qh1+ 44.Kf2 Rh2 mate. 43...Kh7 44.R8e2. With his zwischenschach (intermediate check) Anand has forced the black king onto a square where it is open to future checks from e4 or f5. This time it is not so obviously why White could not take the rook: 44.Qxd2 Qh1+ 45.Kf2 Qh2+ (45...Rf6+ 46.Qf4!) 46.Ke3 Qxg3+ 47.Ke2 Qg4+ 48.Kd3 Rd6+ 49.Kc2 Rxd2+ 50.Kxd2 Qxc4 and Black has a queen and pawn for two rooks, with excellent winning chances. Ivanchuk saw all of this when he played 42...Rd2.

44...Qc5+ 45.Qf2 Rxe2 46.Rxe2 Qxc4 47.Qf5+ g6 48.Qe4 Qc5+ 49.Kg2 Rh5 50.Rc2 Qb6 51.Rd2 Rb5 52.a4 Rb4 53.Qe7 Qc6+ 54.Kh2 Rb7 55.Qh4+ Kg7 56.Qd4+ f6 57.a5 g5 58.Qd5 Qb5 draw. Well defended by Anand, who narrowly avoided a major catastrophe in round one. It will be interesting to see what he does on Wednesday with White against Teimour Radjabov – play for an uncomplicated draw to calm his nerves, or go for a win to show he is back in the tournament. [Click to replay]


Radjabov's Scotch led to heavy early simplifications, and the resulting balanced endgame never looked like being anything but drawn.

Radjabov,T (2744) - Topalov,V (2777) [C45]
Grand Slam Final Bilbao ESP (1), 02.09.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.Nd2 a5 9.c4 Nb6 10.Qe4 d5 11.exd6 cxd6 12.Be2 Qxe4 13.Nxe4 Be6 14.c5 dxc5 15.Be3 Nd5 16.Bxc5 Nf4 17.Bxf8 Kxf8 18.g3 Nxe2 19.Kxe2 Re8 20.f3 Bd5 21.Kf2 Bxe4 22.fxe4 Rxe4 23.Rac1 Ke7 24.Rxc6 Rd8 25.Rc2 Rd5 26.Rhc1 Rf5+ 27.Kg2 h5 28.Rc7+ Kf6 29.R1c6+ Re6 30.b3 g5 31.Rxe6+ fxe6 32.Rc2 Ke7 33.Rd2 g4 34.h3 gxh3+ 35.Kxh3 Kf6 36.g4 hxg4+ 37.Kxg4 Rb5 38.Kf4 a4 39.bxa4 Ra5 40.Ke3 Rxa4 41.Rb2 Kf5 42.Rf2+ Ke5 43.Kd3 Kd5 44.Rb2 Ra3+ 45.Rb3 Rxb3+ 46.axb3 Kc5 47.Ke4 Kb4 48.Ke5 Kxb3 49.Kxe6 draw. [Click to replay]


Carlsen got the best possible start, by beating Aronian as Black. The latter sacrificed a pawn to reach a Q+R ending where Black's seemingly exposed king might have appeared to offer good compensation. However, he was unable to make anything of it, and Carlsen soon had a queen ending with an outside passed pawn, which he converted convincingly.


Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen during their round one game


The young Norwegian pon ders a move while people on the Plaza look on

The following annotations are by our esteemed colleague GM Mikhail Golubev of Chess Today, the first Internet-based daily Chess newspaper. You can subscribe to this service for €45 per year (or €15 for three months) and get the installments – with games in PGN and ChessBase formats – by email.

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

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.g3 Bb4+ 6.Nd2

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

15.Be3. 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! 15...Rxb2. 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

17.Rab1. 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.Ba3. 22.e4!? was preferable, with sufficient compensation for the pawn. 22...Qa6! 23.Bb2 Qxa4!=/+

Now White should fight for equality. 24.Bxc6. 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!-/+

Now it is really unpleasant - White is still a pawn down, and he is also under attack. 32.Qc7. 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: 34...Ra1!? This forces White to exchange rooks – quite an achievement for Black. 35.Qc2. Not 35.Rc4? Ra3+ 36.Kd2 Qd5+. 35...Rxa4 36.Qxa4

36...Qc1+. After 36...Qe4+ 37.Qxe4 fxe4 38.Kxe4 the pawn 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

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...Qf5! 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. [Click to replay]


Spanish journalist and Playchess commentator Leontxo Garcia interviews Magnus Carlsen after the game

All pictures by Nadja Woisin in Bilbao

Bilbao scores

Player
games
wins
draws 
losses
points
Magnus Carlsen
1
1
0
0
3
Vishy Anand
1
0
1
0
1
Vassily Ivanchuk
1
0
1
0
1
Veselin Topalov
1
0
1
0
1
Teimur Radjabov
1
0
1
0
1
Levon Aronian
1
0
0
1
0


Schedule and results

Round 1: Tuesday, 2nd September 2008
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 2: Wednesday, 3rd September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 
 Magnus Carlsen
Veselin Topalov 
 
 Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand 
 
 Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 3: Thursday, 4th September 2008
Teimour Radjabov 
 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
 
 Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
 
 Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 4: Friday, 5th September 2008
Levon Aronian 
 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
 
 Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
 
 Vishy Anand
Games – Report
Round 5: Saturday, 6th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 
 Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 
 
 Magnus Carlsen
Teimour Radjabov 
 
 Levon Aronian
Games – Report
Round 6: Monday, 8th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
 
 Teimour Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen 
 
 Levon Aronian
Games – Report
Round 7: Tuesday, 9th September 2008
Magnus Carlsen 
 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
 
 Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
 
 Vishy Anand
Games – Report
Round 8: Wednesday, 10th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 
 Teimour Radjabov
Vishy Anand 
 
 Levon Aronian
Veselin Topalov 
 
 Magnus Carlsen
Games – Report
Round 9: Friday, 12th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 
 Levon Aronian
Teimour Radjabov 
 
 Magnus Carlsen
Vishy Anand 
 
 Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 10: Saturday, 13th September 2008
Veselin Topalov 
 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
 
 Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
 
 Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.



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