Carlsen @ Google

by ChessBase
1/23/2014 – On January 16, while visiting California, Magnus Carlsen stopped over at the Google headquarters, where he gave a simul to ten lucky participants, and a chat with Art Levinson, CEO of Calico, a new Google company. Freeman Ng, one of the players, provided a report, with the generous contributions of other players and attendees, who sent their commented games and pictures.

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by Freeman Ng

On January 16, 2014, Magnus Carlsen, the newly crowned world chess champion and the highest rated player in history, paid a visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, to give a talk and play a ten-board simultaneous exhibition. His ten opponents were basically chosen randomly, by taking the first ten employees to respond to an announcement email, and I was lucky enough to be watching my inbox at the time!

Magnus Carlsen is prepared for the event, and equipped
with a body mike for the mid-simul chat

Art Levinson, Aaron Gershenberg, and Magnus Carlsen before the games start. Aaron
Gershenberg is a managing partner of Silicon Valley Bank, and it is not his first time
with Carlsen. In late 2012, he spoke with him on what the game had taught him.

Carlsen walked from board to board making his moves. When he got to each person's board, that person would have to make his move right then so as not to slow down the event. This gave us very little time to think, as Carlsen pretty much played his moves instantly, and it got worse as players lost their games and he had fewer and fewer boards to visit. One player joked in email the day before that we should spread the tables far apart so the world champion would have to spend more time walking!

Panna Chowdhury, Daniel Felix, Lawrence Ip, and Ali Tamur

Don Burnette, Freeman Ng, Thorsten Brants, Eric Schwelm, Matthew Kelcey,
and Kenton Born. Magnus said that while Ali played the best game, Kenton
was the most courageous player - for playing the Scandinavian against him!

Finally, the games got started...

... and the players had their hands full.

For Magnus Carlsen, it was business as usual

As the results trickled in, the pace accelerated. The day before the players had joked that
they should space out the tables more to force Magnus to take more time between moves.

Carlsen went 10-0 with only one close game, against the highest rated player (2168) among us. I had no chance in my game, but thoroughly enjoyed it. What I wanted most was to have some real play (as opposed to blundering early and being done from the start) and to make him think at least once in the game, and as you'll see in my game notes, I got both wishes! The wish I didn't get was to mount an attack against him, but it was actually very educational seeing how he snuffed out any possibility of an attack before I could even dream of it.

Magnus Carlsen deciding on his move against Freeman Ng

Carlsen's game against Freeman Ng with comments by Freeman. He explains that the comments are entirely based on his own understanding and experience of the game:

[Event "Google Simul"] [Site "Mountain View, CA"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Ng, Freeman"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackUSCF "1799"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C63"] [EventDate "2014.01.16"] {C63: Ruy Lopez: Schliemann/Jaenisch Defence} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 { A rarely seen opening because it's not really that good, and a terrible choice for the likes of me to play against a grandmaster, since it can lead to very complicated, tactical positions, but it's what I normally play, and I had decided to die as I lived. Magnus paused briefly before replying with the quietest continuation.} 4. d3 Nf6 5. O-O {This took me out of my book. Oddly, it also takes Deep Junior, the chess engine I used to analyze this game, out of its book. Whether this is really a non-book move or not, it seems, along with 4. d3, very Carlsenesque: he avoids modern cutting edge opening moves that push for every last bit of advantage, and instead plays simple developing moves that just get him into the middlegame where he feels his natural strength will be enough to get the win. He's basically giving up some opening advantage in order to avoid possible opening tricks by his opponents. (And in order to not have to work so hard studying openings.) I believe this is a pretty new and radical approach at the championship level of chess, but it's made possible by a simple fact: Carlsen might be the only player in the world strong enough to make it work!} Bc5 6. exf5 {Carlsen takes the gambit pawn. Deep Junior has him up by 0.48, only half a pawn, at this point, even though he should be up by that one whole pawn plus a little more for white's natural advantage for moving first. One way of looking at the discrepancy is that I've obtained almost a pawn's worth of play from my sacrifice. Will I be able to do anything with it?} O-O 7. Be3 Bb6 8. Bxc6 dxc6 {So far, according to Deep Junior, I haven't played any bad moves, but on the other hand, there have always been multiple good moves available, so the odds were better that I would happen to play one of them. It rates either recapture here roughly the same, for example, so there wasn't a wrong choice here.} 9. Nxe5 Bxf5 10. Nc3 Qe8 {I was wanting to swing the Queen over to the kingside, but even as I played the move, I realized that all the squares it might swing to were covered at the moment, and I was suddenly worried about having my Queen sitting exposed on the open file. Deep Junior says I'm still okay, though.} 11. Bxb6 Qxe5 {This was the first time there was one clearly best move, and I'm happy that it's the one I chose. I would have lost about a quarter pawn's worth of ground if I had taken the bishop. I don't actually understand why taking the knight was better, especially since bishops tend to be thought of as being slightly more valuable than knights. At the time, I thought this might be a way to get my Queen to the kingside, but that turned out not to be possible after all, so I was just lucky to make the right choice but for the wrong reason.} 12. f4 {Fending off my queen and any attacking ideas I might have had. However, this was Carlsen's first of two subpar moves. Deep Junior says the weird d4 would have been about a third of a pawn better. I don't get it at all. It reduces the bishop's options for retreat and loses control of e4. What's good about it? Let's see how the engine foresees things proceeding...} (12. d4 Qf4 13. Ne2) {Ah, I see now! It was purely tactical. White chases the queen off the c7-g3 diagonal and wins a second pawn with Bxc7. Well, I can see how Carlsen might have preferred maintaining containment of my pieces to winning a doubled pawn. Yet, Deep Junior now has white's advantage at less than a quarter of a pawn.} 12... Qd6 13. Be3 Nd5 {My first subpar move. Deep Junior recommends the natural } (13... Rae8) {, or } (13... Ng4) { angling to eliminate the bishop, and I did in fact consider the rook move initially, but then I got it into my head that it might be nice to force an exchange on d5 to undouble my pawns. I should have thought more about the landscape that would obtain in the aftermath of that!} 14. Qd2 {Deep Junior says Carlsen should have taken the knight to prevent it from taking his bishop...} Rae8 {... and that I should now (of course) have taken the bishop. Instead, I forced him to do what he should have done in the first place!} 15. Nxd5 cxd5 {Deep Junior says recapturing with the queen was slightly better - so eliminating the doubled pawns turned out not to be that valuable a goal after all.} 16. Bd4 {This was the most memorable move of the game for me. At first, I didn't understand it, and then I realized where the bishop was going! That was a truly wonderful moment, partly because of the beauty of the smallness of the move compared to the big effect it will eventually have, and partly because it helped me to experience a way of looking at chess positions that was a bit more advanced than I was used to. I think I might have become a slightly better chess player in that moment!} c5 { I knew I couldn't stop the next move, and decided my best chance from here on out was to try drumming up counterplay on the queenside.} 17. Be5 {The big move I saw coming with dread and delight. But I'm a little disappointed that Deep Junior still has white up by less than a pawn at this point, because at the time, I felt like this was a crushing move and the game (or at least the fun part of the game) was now over for me. The bishop dominates the board, and *can't ever be dislodged* because I have the wrong color bishop and no knights.} Qc6 {I seriously considered sacrificing the exchange here} (17... Re5 18. fe5 Qe5) {just to get rid of the bishop, but I guess I overreacted, since Deep Junior still thinks I'm in the game. The MC who was doing commentary mentioned the value of opposite colored bishops for holding draws in the endgame, and maybe that's why the engine evaluation is not so bad, but during the game, I was much more worried about the advantage that opposite colored bishops can give to the attacker! Could this be one of those cases where the human evaluation differs from the computer's because the human can see that the bishop can stay there forever and affect every corner of the board, while the computer only sees that the bishop can stay there as far ahead as it can look? Or is the bishop just not as powerful as I think?} 18. Rae1 b5 {While I carry on with my queenside plans...} 19. h3 {...Carlsen begins his own kingside action.} d4 {Carlsen appeared at my board and I played this move, the second of two instances in the game of a single best move that I managed to find (though this one's much more obvious to me than the last one: before I can play c4 to try and open some lines on the queenside, I have to prevent the d3 pawn from advancing in response) and then, rather than reply instantaneously as he'd been doing all game (except for his very brief pause after 3. ... f5) he spent about ten seconds thinking things over! It was the biggest thrill of my chess playing life.} 20. b3 {I'm guessing what he spent all that time thinking about was whether he needed to do something to slow me down before getting on with his kingside attack, and I'm oddly pleased that he decided he did need to do something!} a6 {This was the first of three essentially random moves I made in the game, in positions where I needed to do a lot of thinking but before I could even get started Magnus was standing there and I had to move. I supposed this does do *some* good in that it makes both itself and its neighbor pawn safer, but really, it was essentially a "pass". Fortunately, Deep Junior considers it roughly as good as several other possibilities. But I was not as lucky the next two times!} 21. g4 Bd7 22. f5 {Carlsen's second subpar move. According to Deep Junior, the best move was} (22. Qg2) {which forces me to either swap queens or diminish my own queen's scope and let him line up more heavy artillery behind his pawn storm. However, the move he played is not bad either, and it had the virtue of totally confusing me: I flat out failed to see that it opened the way for Qg5, and went into a little panic trying to figure out what was going on, and then suddenly, there was Magnus again at my board and I had to play *something*.} Rd8 $4 {The losing move because it lets him force an exchange of queens and win a second pawn in the deal. But even aside from that, what was I thinking, removing my rook from the open file? My fleeting, partial thought at the time was that my pawn on d4 needed protection before I could push c4. Here's the very clever alternative suggested by Deep Junior: } (22... Qd5 23. Qh2 Bc6 {What I didn't notice during the game was that f5 also weakened the bishop I had once thought an immovable object, so now it can be threatened, allowing my queen and bishop to reconfigure themselves into much more active positions. White is still better by that less-than-a-pawn margin that has persisted through most of the game, but at least I've still got plenty of play. I doubt I could have found this on my own, though, even if I had had much longer to think about it. The moment when Deep Junior showed me this maneuver was the second big educational moment that arose from this game for me.}) 23. Qg5 Qh6 24. Qxh6 gxh6 25. Bd6 Rfe8 26. Bxc5 {I considered resigning after this, but the player next to me happened to say at that point that he was about to be mated, and so I decided to wait until after he lost his game to lose mine!} Bc6 27. Rxe8+ { Here (as well as on the previous and next moves) Deep Junior says f6 would have been even better. I was surprised Carlsen let me have the e file.} Rxe8 28. Bxd4 Re2 {And I get a rook to the seventh rank against Magnus Carlsen! (But all it's going to do is chase the white king where it wanted to go anyway.)} 29. Rf2 Re1+ $2 (29... Rxf2 30. Kxf2 Kf7 {Okay, Deep Junior, I believe you when you say that this would have been objectively better, but I'm lost anyway, and there was no way I was letting go of my rook. That rook represented my continued presence in the game! }) 30. Kh2 Rh1+ 31. Kg3 Rg1+ 32. Kf4 Rh1 {Carlsen lets me have a pawn so he can take over the e file and infiltrate with his rook. I accepted the deal because of, you know, my irrational attachment to my rook. Moving it back to e1 to resume guarding the e file would only have resulted in it being challenged by Magnus' rook and traded off eventually.} 33. Re2 Rxh3 34. Re6 h5 {The final "random" move. I had no idea what to do about the rook's attack, which was way more powerful than I thought it would be, so when it was time to move, I had no candidate moves in my head except this one that I'd thought about earlier.} 35. Rxc6 {1-0. I thought Carlsen had been moving "instantaneously" earlier, but when he saw me play this move, before he was even fully standing in front of the board, his hand shot out like a striking rattlesnake to snap off my bishop!} 1-0

Ali Tamur, the highest rated player among the participants shared his impressions:

Ali Tamur was the highest rated player in the simul. It bears mentioning that
this is not the first time he appears in ChessBase News. He authored an article
in 2009 called, "Refined Chess – a new proposal to combat draws"

It was a simultaneous event with ten boards. As far as I know, there were no other players with a 2000+ rating. As soon as the games started, a guy from Carlsen's team took the microphone and began to discuss the ongoing games, make jokes and so on, which was probably more fun for the kibitzers. Still, the whole event was more like an exhibition than a serious chess event.

After Carlsen made his 25th move, it was announced that it was time for the questions-and-answers and the games would continue afterwards. Carlsen took the stage. I was going to skip this and go on thinking about the game, but it would not look nice since we were just in front of him. Imagine Carlsen answering questions and some guy in front him has his back to him, looking at his board. I sighed and forgot about the game as I listened to him.

Art Levinson then sat down for a chat with Magnus. Art Levinson is a former
director of Google (2004-2009), and is now the CEO of Calico, an independent
biotech company established in 2013 by Google Inc. with the stated goal of
focusing on the challenge of combating aging and associated diseases.

Guess what one of the topics was

The conference was entertaining and Carlsen was confident, funny and candid. He claimed his rating would be about 2750 if he played blindfold in tournament conditions, only about 2500 in a simultaneous event like this and he would be about 2700 if he had a couple of drinks, he explained the lack of women in the top by their lack of killer instinct, said he was not worried by any opponent that he might face in the next world championship match and repeated his conviction that as long as he played his best he would beat anyone, and in answer to a question about god's rating, he suggested the god has better things to do than play chess, but since we and the computers understood chess so little he could not think of a limit.

It came down to just Ali and Magnus. You don't really have any doubts on what
the result was, right?

About our game, I think it went as well as I could hope for, with only ten boards I had to think much faster than I'm used to and many times my moves were backed more by hope than calculation. As the games progressed, there were fewer boards left, and the level of my my play went downhill. The last twelve to fifteen moves were played one on one where I had no chance regardless of the position in the board.

Pictures generously provided by Umesh Nair and Md Arifuzzaman Arif

Games commented by the players:

[Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Ali Tamur"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "2168"] [EventDate "2014.01.16"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Re1 Be6 12.c3 Qd7 13.d4 Bxb3 14.Nxb3 {I was more worried about 14.Qxb3 where I was planning to play 14. ... b4 but was not sure whether the knight is misplaced or not after 15.d5 bxc3 16.Qxc3 Nb4. The engines seem to agree with Carlsen's choice} 14. ... Ra8 {Thank god, 15.d5 Rxa1 is fine} 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bh4 Rxa1 17.Qxa1 d5?! 18.Bxf6?! {The engines suggest 18. exd5 Qxd5 19.dxe5 with an almost winning advantage for white, so, yes, when he spends 3 seconds per move, he sometimes makes mistakes} Bxf6 19.Nc5 Qd6 20.exd5 Qxd5 21.Ne4 Be7 22.c4 {I would probably miss this move even in a long game, I don't know if it is particularly good but I was very impressed how he played this within a second. He may even be planning it by 18th move} Qxc4 23.dxe5 {I was expecting 23.Rc1 where 23. ... Qd5 24.Nc3 should be good for white. Luckily, after 23. ... Qd3 there is no immediate disaster, for example 24.Rxc6 Qxe4 25.Rxc7 Bd6} Rd8 24.h3 Nd4 {Most games had ended at this point and I did not have time to analyse Nb4. When under stress my reflexes always prefer exchanges and calm positions} 25.Nxd4 Qxd4 {I think black should even be a little better here} 26.e6 {I was hoping for 26.Ng3 Bc5 27.Re2 Qf4, which is very optimistic. These top players never yield the initiative like that} fxe6 27.Qa6 Qd5? {Qe5, Qc4 or even Qd7 would be good for black} 28.Nc3 Qc4 29.Qxe6+ Qxe6 30.Rxe6 Bf6 31.Nxb5 Rd1+ 32.Kh2 Bxb2 33.Nxc7 Rd7 34.Nb5 Rd5 35.Rb6 Be5+ 36.g3 Bd4? {After 36. ... Rd2 37.Kg2 Rb2 even I should be able to draw} 37.Rb8+ Kh7 38.Kg2 Bc5 39.Nc3 Rf5 40.Ne4 Be7 41.Rb7 Re5 42.Kf3 Rf5+ 43.Kg4 Re5?? 44.Kf4 Re6 45.Kf5 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2013.01.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Daniel Felix"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "1900"] [Result "1-0"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nc3 d6 {I wanted to avoid the Qh4+ theory, but doing so is just inferior.} 4. d4 g5 5. h4 Be7 {Not a good way to handle the position.} 6. hxg5 Bxg5 7. Qh5 c6 8. Bc4 Qe7 {Free f7 pawn, but he's not interested.} 9. Nf3 Bh6 10. Bd2 Nd7 {The plan is to play Ndf6 to g4 to try to prevent e5.} 11. O-O-O Ndf6 12. Qh4 Be6 {Played to provoke d5 in order to make Ng4 stronger. For some reason I was so focused on the bishop maneuver that I overlooked playing Ng4 straightaway, which is probably the only good move in the position. It's just downhill from here.} 13. d5 Bd7 14. Bxf4 Bxf4+ 15. Qxf4 O-O-O {Played to deal the threat against d6.} 16. e5 dxe5 17. Nxe5 cxd5 {Opening the c-file is not a wise decision.} 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5 f6 {Time pressure. I had been planning to play Be8, but all of the lines were looking lost. By the time Magnus came back around I still hadn't finished calculating Be8, so I just played the first bad move that popped into my head. I knew that it was over at this point, but I screwed around for another few moves.} 20. Nf7 Rf8 21. Nxh8 Qg7 {There's no real threat against the knight due to Qc4+.} 22. Nf7 Qg4 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2013.01.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Lawrence Ip"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "1850"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 c5 6.d5 exd5 7.Ng5 h6 8.Nh3 Qc8 9.cxd5 d6 10.Nc3 Be7 11.O-O O-O 12.e4 Nbd7 13.f4 Re8 14.g4 Bf8 15.g5 hxg5 16.Nxg5 Qd8 17.Qd3 g6 18.Qh3 Bg7 19.Bd2 a6 20.Rae1 b5 21.e5 dxe5 22.f5 b4 23.fxg6 fxg6 24.Nce4 Qe7 25.d6 Qd8 26.Nxf6+ Nxf6 27.Rxf6 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Don Burnette"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [EventDate "2014.01.16"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5 c5 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.cxd5 Bxd4 8. Nxd4 cxd4 9.Qxd4 f6 10.e4 Nd7 11.Be2 Qb6 12.Qd2 O-O 13.O-O a6 14.Kh1 Ne5 15.f4 Bg4 16.fxe5 Bxe2 17.Nxe2 fxe5 18.Ng1 Rxf1 19.Rxf1 Qd4 20.Qe2 b5 21. Nf3 Qa4 22.b3 Qa3 23.Nxe5 Rf8 24.Rxf8+ Kxf8 25.Qf1+ Ke8 26.h3 Qd6 27.Qf7+ Kd8 28.Nc6+ Kd7 29.e5 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Thorsten Brants"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [Result "1-0"] 1. Nf3 Nc6 2. d4 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 O-O 7. Rc1 dxc4 8. Bxc4 Nd5 9. Bxe7 Ncxe7 10. O-O b6 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. Qc2 c6 13. Bd3 h6 14. Qxc6 Bd7 15. Qd6 Rc8 16. Ne5 Be8 17. Qa3 Rc7 18. Be4 f6 19. Bxd5 exd5 20. Nd3 Bb5 21. Rxc7 Qxc7 22. Rc1 Qb7 23. Nf4 Bc6 24. Qd6 Rc8 25. h4 Qd7 26. Qxd7 Bxd7 27. Rxc8+ Bxc8 28. Nxd5 Be6 29. Nc3 a6 30. e4 Kf7 31. d5 Bd7 32. f4 Ke7 33. e5 fxe5 34. fxe5 Bc8 35. Kf2 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [Round "-"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Eric Schwelm"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [Result "1-0"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. c4 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 Nf6 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Bd7 10. Qd2 a6 11. f3 Qc7 12. Rac1 Rab8 13. Nd5 Qc8 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Nxe7+ Kh8 16. Nxc8 Rbxc8 17. Qxd6 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [Round "-"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Mat Kelcey"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "1500"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 {Slav Defence.} 3.Nf3 g6 4.Nc3 Be6 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Bf4 Bg7 7.Qb3 b6? {Oops. Gives N a great outpost. Should have defended b7 with Qb6.} 8.Nb5 Kf8 9.Nc7 Nd7 {Was expecting Nxa8...} 10.Nxe6+ fxe6 11.Ng5 Qc8 {Escape a Nxe6 royal fork.} 12.Rc1 Qb7 13.Rc7 Qb8 14.Rxd7 Qc8 15.Rc7 Qe8 16.Nxe6+ Kf7 17.Qxd5 Nf6 18.Qb3 Rc8 19.Nd8+ Kf8 20.Rxc8 Nd7 21.Qf7+ Qxf7 22.Ne6# 1-0 [Event "Magnus@Google"] [Site "Google"] [White "Magnus, Carlsen"] [Black "Born, Kenton"] [Date "2014.01.16"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "1700"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Bd2 Qc7 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Nf3 Bf5 8.Ne5 e6 9.g4 Bg6 10.h4 Be4 11.f3 Bd5 12.Bd3 Bd6 13.Qe2 Bxe5 { I wasn't sure about this move at first, but I felt like I really needed to castle queen-side, and the knight's pressure on f7 would be miserable to deal with. } 14.dxe5 Nfd7 15.Bf4 { I need to look at this move further. At first, it looks like there is a weakness against the f6 pawn push, but after Nxd5, things may get hairy. I expected f4 immediately. } 15...Nc5 { I was very tempted to take the bishop at this point, but I was worried about how powerful his knight may become if it could wiggle its way to d6, and I liked the additional pressure it put on his queenside. } 16.O-O-O Nbd7 17.Bc4 O-O-O { I was once again tempted to trade bishops here, but I decided I liked the position of him trying to get the passed pawn, potentially ending in an isolated pawn situation (Which ended up happening}. } 18.Bxd5 exd5 19.Bh2 Qa5 20.h5 Rhe8 21.f4 f6 22.Rhe1 fxe5 23.fxe5 { Now he has the passed pawn, but it is isolated, and I should be able to block it on the white square indefinitely with my two knights against his black bishop. } 23...Ne6 24.Kb1 Rf8 25.Qd3 h6 26.Qg6 { I let the queen in trying to be extra tricky with a tactic that actually did nothing but put me in a worse position, and I ended up not taking the line I intended. He is threatening my knight, but I wanted to play the in-between move Rf7, attacking his bishop, and if he attacks the rook with the bishop, play the in-between move of N7f8, kicking the queen out and and indefinitely securing my knight on d6. Unfortunately, it looked like after Qxd6, RxH7, there really is no way to stop the passed pawn doing major damage at that point... I decided I needed the knight :-( } 26...Rde8 27.Rf1 Rg8 { Rxf1?? Qxd8, I have to give up the open lane. } 28.Rf7 Qd8 29.a3 Qg5 { Things are looking okay at this point. White obviously has some initiative, but I think black can hold a draw. } 30.Qf5 g6 { I want to open up the lane for an attack, possibly convince him to trade off queens, and get some counterplay on his g4 pawn. } 31.hxg6 Rxg6 { He was down to playing only a few boards at this point, so I had to play this move very quickly. I originally wanted to take with the Queen, then decided last second that things still looked relatively safe doubling up my rooks behind my queen against his pawn. Oops :-( } 32.Ne4 { Things are basically lost after this tactic. He has a fork on d6 (you know, the square I worried about earlier}, as well as an attack on my queen. I can trade queens first, but he still gets his pawn attacking my knight and rook after the trade-off and still has the check. Things are pretty lost at this point } 32...Qxg4 { This wasn't the best move, but my only real chance was him overlooking the attack on his rook on the back rank, and I was going to resign in a move or two either way :-P } 33.Nd6+ Kb8 34.Qxg4 { I resign after this move. } 1-0

Click on the drop-down menu to see all the games

About the author

Freeman Ng is a software engineer at Google and a writer on the side. His writing projects include a novelization of the life of Joan of Arc and a daily haiku site where he has posted one new haiku a day since July, 2010. You can find all his writing online through his home page, He plays chess online under the (brand new) username ... LostToCarlsen!

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