Gashimov R10: From Fool to King

by Alejandro Ramirez
4/30/2014 – After starting the tournament with 50% - 2.5/5 - two of them being losses in a row, it was a question in everyone's mind whether Carlsen would recover successfully. He did, and in what way. With a brilliant second half scoring 4.0/5 Carlsen takes Shamkir and crowns himself with a full point lead over Caruana, who kept his second place despite today's loss. Does Magnus do it on purpose?

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The Vugar Gashimov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the 20th to 30th of April, in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament is divided into two groups. The A Group features six players: World Champion Magnus Carlsen (2881), Fabiano Caruana (2783), Sergey Karjakin (2772), Hikaru Nakamura (2772), and the two Azeri players Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2760) and Teimour Radjabov (2713). The B group consists of ten players, the top five seeds from various countries and the bottom five are all from Azerbaijan.

Round Ten

Round 10 – 30.04.14
Mamedyarov
½-½
Karjakin
Nakamura
½-½
Radjabov
Carlsen
1-0
Caruana

Daniel King shows the game Carlsen vs Caruana

Final round: go!

Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar ½-½ Karjakin, Sergey
Karjakin is very faithful to his double fianchetto variation against the English. This seemed to give him no problems today as Mamedyarov's initiative was easily neutralized. A few fireworks were seen on the board, but they simply ended in a perpetual check.

Time for reflection: Shakhriyar will have to figure out what went wrong in this event

Karjakin's zero wins and zero losses gives him the worst tiebreak of those tied at 50%

Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ Radjabov, Teimour
Of course nowadays it is impossible to escape having a few Berlins in the tournament. The last one of the event was between Nakamura and Radjabov, a little disappointing because they are such creative and fighting players. The game can be summarized with the following two diagrams:

Position after Black's 27...Rh5

Position after White's 77. Rd3

Neither side did anything productive for 50 moves, and according to the 50-move rule the game is a draw if neither side has captured any piece or pushed a pawn in 50 moves. Not the most exciting game, Black literally shuffle his h-rook back and forth for the majority of that time.

Nakamura took some time from shuffling pieces to watch other games

Radjabov did something similar

A long game, but not one we can recommend readers to replay closely

Carlsen, Magnus 1-0 Caruana, Fabiano
Of course everyone's eyes were on this game today. Carlsen came in with an unorthodox opening, Caruana sacrificed a pawn and mayhem ensued:

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2014"] [Site "Shamkir"] [Date "2014.04.30"] [Round "10"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2881"] [BlackElo "2783"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "AZE"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 c5 5. c3 {Somewhat passive, Black actually has a few ways of dealing with this variation.} d5 (5... cxd4 6. cxd4 d5 {transposes to a well known Grunfeld variation, but one that I am not sure is to Caruana's liking. He prefers more open set-ups against the Fianchetto Grunfeld.}) 6. dxc5 $5 (6. O-O Nbd7 $11) 6... O-O 7. O-O a5 {The position is not yet new.} 8. Be3 Nc6 {Caruana plays for the compensation rather than trying to regain the pawn. This is risky, but with the tournament on the line - why not?} (8... Ng4 9. Bd4 (9. Bd2 Na6 10. h3 Nf6 11. Be3 Qc7 $11) (9. Qc1 Nxe3 10. Qxe3 Nd7 11. Nbd2 e5 $44) 9... e5 10. h3 exd4 11. hxg4 dxc3 12. Nxc3 Na6 {seems to be ok for Black as well.}) 9. Na3 a4 {White's pawn on c5 is weak in the long run and defending it causes some coordination problems on White's camp. Overall however it's not clear that Black has enough compensation for the pawn.} 10. Qc1 e5 11. Rd1 Qe7 12. Nb5 {The knight tries to install itself on the powerful d6 square. Any coordination that White obtains is welcome and will secure his extra pawn.} Be6 13. Ng5 Bg4 14. Nd6 h6 15. Nf3 Kh7 (15... b6 { undermining the knight seems to me to be the best plan. Here White will at least have to figure out how to keep any advantage.} 16. Bxh6 $2 (16. Ne1 Be6 $44 (16... Bxe2 17. Rxd5 $1 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 Qd7 19. Qc2 $16 {with a very strong initiative.})) 16... bxc5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Nb5 e4 $17) 16. h3 Be6 17. b4 { Considering the events of the game this move was not the best.} (17. Ne1 $1 { This rerouting controls e4 and prepares the maneuver Nf3-b4!? pressuring d5.}) 17... axb3 18. axb3 Rxa1 19. Qxa1 {White is one move away from consolidating his queenside.} Ne4 $1 {Right on time to cause problems.} 20. Nd2 f5 $2 { Ambitious, but not good.} (20... Nxd6 21. cxd6 Qd7 $1 {Black is not in a rush to take on d6. White's knight on d2 is indirectly defending it, but moving it away would result in d6's immediate death. What else to do?} (21... Qxd6 22. Nc4 Qd8 23. Bc5 Rg8 24. Bxd5 Bxd5 25. e4 $16) 22. Bc5 e4 $1 {with excellent chances to equalize.}) 21. N2xe4 dxe4 22. Qb1 $5 {Carlsen plays in a very greedy fashion. Caruana's initiative looks threatening but Carlsen has it all under control.} f4 23. Bd2 e3 24. Be1 $1 Bf5 25. Qc1 {White's kingside pawn structure will be demolished, but the remaining pieces still provide good cover for the king and it is not so easy to bring the pieces to the kingside for Caruana.} h5 (25... exf2+ 26. Bxf2 fxg3 27. Bxg3 $16 {leads nowhere. If anything White is also positionally better here.}) 26. fxe3 fxg3 27. Bxg3 { Black is now down two pawns, his attack must work for him not to lose.} Qg5 28. e4 $1 {Giving back a little material to secure the position and obtain all the pluses in the situation.} Qxg3 29. Rd3 $1 {This is the key move, driving the queen back first and only then taking on f5.} (29. exf5 gxf5 30. Rd3 Qg6 { allows Black just a little more counterplay.}) 29... Qh4 30. exf5 gxf5 31. e4 fxe4 (31... f4 32. Qd1 {is hopeless for Black as his attack goes nowhere with a locked position.}) 32. Bxe4+ Kh8 33. Qe3 {Both kings are in some danger now, but what is most important is that White will win with any piece trades.} Rf4 34. Bg2 Qe7 35. Qe2 Qh4 36. b4 {With everything defended on the kingside it is now a good time to push the pawn.} e4 {Desperation, but what else to do?} 37. Nxe4 Ne5 38. Rd5 Kg8 39. b5 Rf5 40. c6 bxc6 {Time control is reached and the passed c-pawn is simply marching forward.} 41. bxc6 Qe7 42. Nd6 Rg5 43. Nb5 { It seems risky to move the knight all the way to b5 just to help the pawn out, but Carlsen has everything under control.} Qe6 44. Rd8+ Kh7 45. Qe4+ Rg6 46. c7 Qa6 {Spite checks are all black has left.... and one nasty trick.} 47. c8=Q Qa1+ 48. Kf2 (48. Kh2 $4 Nf3+ $1 {And suddenly black wins.}) 48... Qb2+ 49. Ke1 { Black will run out of checks next move and the extra queen is plenty of extra material. A wild game that Carlsen understood perfectly.} 1-0

On purpose?

This is not the first time Magnus has started badly a tournament (see e.g. London 2010, Wijk aan Zee 2011), but come from behind to win it in the end. In a discussion with the journalist D.T.Max of the New Yorker Frederic Friedel proposed an interesting theory: "Magnus is so strong that he is simply bored. I know from personal experience that he bores easily. So he has come up with a new startegy to make things more interesting for himself: play like an idiot in the first few games, move to the bottom of the table, and then try to win the tournament anyway." Fred claims the New Yorker pressured him into saying "like an idiot" for the story, but in essence the thesis was that Magnus was making things unnecessarily hard for himself out of pure boredom.

The story in the March 21 2011 issue of the New Yorker story can be read here.
Do you agree with Fred's theory? Tell us in the discussion section below!

Whatever the case was Carlsen proved that he can play some very weak chess, as he did against Caruana and Radjabov, and then play some unbelievably precise chess as he did today. He is not untouchable, by any means, Carlsen losing isn't a spectacular surprise, but his ability to win games is out of this world. Carlsen won more games in this tournament alone than Nakamura, Karjakin, Radjabov and Mamedyarov combined!

The face of concentration?

Nothing can be done when Carlsen plays impeccable chess

Replay today's games

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Standings

Tiebreak: Number of Wins

Images from the official web site

Schedule and results

Round 1 – 20.04.14
Carlsen
1-0
Mamedyarov
Nakamura
½-½
Caruana
Karjakin
½-½
Radjabov
Round 3 – 22.04.14
Nakamura
1-0
Mamedyarov
Karjakin
½-½
Carlsen
Radjabov
½-½
Caruana
Round 5 – 24.04.14
Mamedyarov
1-0
Caruana
Carlsen
0-1
Radjabov
Nakamura
½-½
Karjakin
Round 7 – 27.04.14
Radjabov
½-½
Mamedyarov
Karjakin
½-½
Caruana
Nakamura
0-1
Carlsen
Round 9 – 29.04.14
Caruana
1-0
Mamedyarov
Radjabov
½-½
Carlsen
Karjakin
½-½
Nakamura
 
Round 2 – 21.04.14
Mamedyarov
½-½
Radjabov
Caruana
½-½
Karjakin
Carlsen
1-0
Nakamura
Round 4 – 23.04.14
Karjakin
½-½
Mamedyarov
Radjabov
½-½
Nakamura
Caruana
1-0
Carlsen
Round 6 – 26.04.14
Mamedyarov
0-1
Carlsen
Caruana
½-½
Nakamura
Radjabov
½-½
Karjakin
Round 8 – 28.04.14
Mamedyarov
0-1
Nakamura
Carlsen
½-½
Karjakin
Caruana
1-0
Radjabov
Round 10 – 30.04.14
Mamedyarov
½-½
Karjakin
Nakamura
½-½
Radjabov
Carlsen
1-0
Caruana

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 a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.

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