Bilbao Rd7: Carlsen joins Caruana in lead

10/9/2012 – Whereas the first half of the Grand Slam Masters marked a disappointing start for the world number one, and a comet-like run by Fabiano Caruana, the start of the second half has been just the opposite. The Italian seems to have slowed down a little, but Magnus Carlsen scored his second straight win, beating Vallejo Pons in a strong kingside attack. Full report and commentary.

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São Paulo / Bilbao Grand Slam Final

Round seven report

Round 7: Tuesday, October 9, 17h
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Sergey Karjakin
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand

Replay all games of the round

While the players all made due efforts to play out their games, not all were of equal excitement. Levon Aronian was quickly neutralized by Vishy Anand's Queen's Gambit Declined and after fifteen moves, there was little doubt as to the result. They played it out until move 33 before agreeing to the draw.

When the Berlin comes up, one can never be sure whether the player is trying to play something sneaky to outplay his opponent, or whether it is simply an attempt to draw with little risk. Either way, neither Caruana nor Karjakin were able to create any real momentum in their game, despite mild efforts, and they too drew.

The game between Magnus Carlsen and Francisco Vallejo Pons was quite another story. When Carlsen opted for the Exchange variation against 3...Bb4 in a French, it was not a declaration of peace as might be assumed, it was simply his way of sidestepping the reams of theory dedicated to the opening.

[Event "5th Final Masters"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP"] [Date "2012.10.09"] [Round "7"] [White "Carlsen, M."] [Black "Vallejo Pons, F."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C15"] [WhiteElo "2843"] [BlackElo "2697"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2012.09.24"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. Nge2 Bg4 7. O-O O-O 8. f3 Bh5 {0.45/0} 9. Nf4 {0.43/0} Bg6 {0.37/0} 10. Nxg6 {0.33/0} hxg6 {0.23/0} 11. Ne2 {0.19/0} Re8 {0.14/0} 12. Bg5 {0.15/0} Be7 {0.13/0} 13. Ng3 {0.00/0} Nbd7 {0.11/0} 14. f4 {0.11/0} Nh7 {0.10/0} 15. Qf3 {-0.18/0} c6 {-0.10/0} 16. h4 {-0.64/0} Ndf8 {0.44/0} (16... f6 $2 {might seem to capture the piece at first view, but it loses very quickly in fact.} 17. Bxg6 $1 fxg5 18. fxg5 {and now if} Rf8 {Black gets mated with} ({or} 18... Ndf8 19. Qf7+ Kh8 20. Nh5 {and Black's position collapses.}) 19. Qh5 Rxf1+ 20. Rxf1 Ndf6 21. gxf6 Nxf6 22. Bf7+ Kf8 23. Be6) ({Curiously, the engines recommend the pawn-grabbing} 16... Qb6 {and are optimistic about Black's chances, but one must really wonder whether this is not some horizon effect remniscent of the old days when they did this until a mate suddenly appeared in their calculations.}) 17. Rae1 {0. 51/0} Qc7 {0.49/0} 18. Bxe7 {0.49/0} Rxe7 {0.44/0} 19. Re5 {0.35/0} f6 $6 {1. 91/0 This on the other hand is a clear mistake, as it deprives the h7-knight of its natural square, and allows White to have a party on Black's light squares around his king.} (19... Rae8 {was better.}) 20. Rxe7 $18 {2.00/0} Qxe7 {1.69/0} 21. h5 {1.76/0} gxh5 {1.66/0} 22. Qxh5 {1.35/0} Qf7 {1.35/0} 23. Qg4 { 1.42/0} g6 {1.79/0} 24. Nf5 {1.68/0 Threatening Nh6+.} Kh8 {1.60/0} 25. Nh4 { 0.82/0} f5 {1.49/0} 26. Qh3 {0.72/0} Qe6 {1.29/0} 27. Kf2 {1.04/0} ({In a rather instructive yet far from obvious move, found by brute calculation, the strongest continuation is} 27. g4 $1 fxg4 {and the point is now} 28. Qg3 {with the idea of} Qf6 29. f5 $1 $16) 27... Re8 {0.79/0} 28. Nf3 {0.79/0} Re7 {1.09/0 } 29. Ne5 {0.99/0} Nd7 {1.74/0} 30. Rh1 {1.33/0} Nxe5 {1.85/0} 31. dxe5 {1.75/0 } c5 {1.84/0} 32. b3 {1.28/0} ({Once again the idea of} 32. g4 $1 {appears, again with the idea of not taking back, but this time it is to pressure g6 with deadly effect.} fxg4 33. Qh4 Rd7 (33... c4 $2 34. Bxg6 $1 {The knight cannot be protected.} Qxg6 35. Qxe7) 34. Qg5 Rg7 35. Rh6 Kg8 36. Qxg6 $3 Rxg6 37. Rxg6+ {and Black is lost.}) 32... c4 {1.11/0} 33. bxc4 {1.00/0} dxc4 {1.08/ 0} 34. Be2 {0.79/0} g5 {0.76/0} 35. g3 {0.81/0} Qb6+ {0.86/0} 36. Kg2 {0.88/0} Qe3 $2 {3.11/0} (36... Qc6+ {was best, though White still has a very strong, possibly winning initiative.} 37. Kf1 gxf4 38. gxf4 Qe4 39. Qf3 Qxc2 40. Kf2 Qd2 41. Rd1 Qa5 42. Qe3 $16 (42. Bxc4 Qc5+)) 37. Kf1 $18 {2.86/0} Rf7 {4.00/0} 38. Qh5 {4.42/0} Qxg3 $6 {299.92/0} 39. Qxf7 $18 {299.93/0} Qxf4+ {299.93/0} 40. Kg2 {299.94/0} Qe4+ {299.94/0} 41. Bf3 {299.95/0} Qxc2+ 42. Kg3 f4+ (42... f4+ 43. Kg4 {Black cannot prevent both Qf8 mate and Rxh7.}) 1-0

With this second consecutive win, Carlsen joins Caruana in the lead in both traditional and Bilbao scoring. Bearing in mind that Aronian is also right behind, and the top prize is once again wide open. Don't miss the final rounds!


Daniel King's Play of the Day: Magnus Carlsen - Paco Vallejo Pons


Player portraits

Viswanathan Anand – the five-time champion wants more

There are already irrefutable arguments which confirm that Viswanathan Anand is one of the best chess players of all time: five-time world champion in all possible formats (knockout, tournament and long duels), and his career is not over yet. At the age of 42 (and after becoming a first-time dad in 2011) he has just recaptured the throne and is looking for more victories. One of the few that elude him is a win at the Masters Final.

Anand works very hard on his technique, between six and nine hours a day. He probably lacks that ‘killer instinct’ that distinguishes Fisher, Karpov and Kasparov, but he looks after his physique as much as or even more than they do. “Yes, years ago I realized that it was important. I am convinced that my two hours a day at the gym when I am at home are essential in order to withstand the wear and tear of the tournaments”, he explains, in perfect Spanish. As for psychological balance, apart from his family and chess he is also passionate about astronomy and economy.

The amazing speed of his reflexes, which allows for a display of brilliant moves in tenths of a second, frustrated his opponents since his first appearance at Linares in 1991, where an entire game took him scarcely half an hour. “The thing is, if I think, I don’t play well,” was his peculiar explanation. Today Anand maintains the same humility he had back then and is highly regarded in India, where in 2000 he was named Sportsman of the Millennium by popular vote and paraded in a horse-drawn carriage, with Chennai’s (formerly Madras) traffic cut off by a crowd which enthusiastically mobbed him. He once underwent a test to show that the right side of his brain, the side that controls intuition, is that of a genius, to which he replied, “I couldn’t care less about my mindpower”.

After his great victories, he always first thanks his wife Aruna, who he says “always takes perfect care of a thousand details”, and next he thanks his main trainer, Peter Heine Nielsen from Denmark. “I owe many of my World Championship victories largely to his magnificent work”. Karpov and Kasparov were never that generous to the people who aided them.

After toppling Topalov at the Sofia championship in 2010, Anand made it clear that he was still hungry for success saying, “The day you get used to victory is the end. I am as happy now as the first time, especially because this has been my most difficult victory, in which I suffered until the end. I remain with the ambition and especially the will to keep enjoying chess. Logically, winning is a big part of that, and I suppose that one day it will end. Nevertheless, age 40 is not a special number for me; it is simply the one that comes after 39. My professional attitude for the next two years is the same one that I had before my duel with Topalov”.

Subsequent events have been consistent with these words, although not without suffering. For Anand it had to come down to quick games (after the 6-6 of the twelve assaults at normal speed) to defend his title against the very tough Israeli Boris Guelfand at Moscow’s Tretiákov Museum this spring. He is already 42 years old but his opinion has not changed. “I see no reason to retire now,” he says.

Anand will continue to stir up excitement in a country with 1.1 billion inhabitants. “There are already more than 700,000 Indians receiving chess classes; of those, 200,000 are enrolled in my World Champion’s Academy. I hope to contribute to increasing that number”.

Leontxo García

Traditional crosstable after seven rounds

Bilbao crosstable after seven rounds


Schedule and results

São Paulo Grand Slam Final
Round 1: Monday, September 24, 15h
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana 
1-0
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 2: Tuesday, September 25, 15h
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Sergey Karjakin 
0-1
 Fabiano Caruana
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 3: Wednesday, September 26, 15h
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Francisco Vallejo
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Sergey Karjakin
Round 4: Friday, September 28, 15h
Fabiano Caruana 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Sergey Karjakin 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Round 5: Saturday, September 29, 15h
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Sergey Karjakin
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Fabiano Caruana
Bilbao Grand Slam Final
Round 6: Monday, October 8, 17h
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Fabiano Caruana
Sergey Karjakin 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 7: Tuesday, October 9, 17h
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Sergey Karjakin
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Round 8: Thursday, October 11, 17h
Francisco Vallejo 
   Levon Aronian
Viswanathan Anand 
   Fabiano Caruana
Sergey Karjakin 
   Magnus Carlsen
Round 9: Friday, October 12, 17h
Sergey Karjakin 
   Francisco Vallejo
Magnus Carlsen 
   Viswanathan Anand
Fabiano Caruana 
   Levon Aronian
Round 10: Saturday, October 13, 16:30h
Francisco Vallejo 
   Fabiano Caruana
Levon Aronian 
   Magnus Carlsen
Viswanathan Anand 
   Sergey Karjakin

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