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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Tsoy Tsoy 5/7/2014 06:16
Sorry but I don't believe carlsen!…,the way he thinks.., he is not human!
George Cataluna George Cataluna 5/3/2014 03:47
I believe all players can improve even the likes of Karjakin where all of his games are drawn. In a game of chess sometimes you lose and sometimes you win but nobody can win against computer chess programs like Shredder or Hiarcs or Fritz. Ofcourse they are only humans subject to emotional imbalance.
MJFitch MJFitch 5/2/2014 03:43
I think the "Magnus is so strong that he is simply bored theory" is BUNK...His games prove this false. Look at all the games, that he wins from seemingly drawn positions? "BORED" player's wouldn't keep fighting on. I understand Chess needs a lot of promotion/sponsor's BUT stop making him into some super human on one hand, so you can say he's a fool on the other cause he losses a couple games? Carlsen is a GREAT talent, I love his style, some may say boring, not like Kasparov winning right out of the opening, BUT, look at his rating and tournament wins, it's OBVIOUSLY working out for him pretty well!!!...Magnus Carlsen World Chess Champion deserves a lot of respect for what he has accomplished at such a young age, but please temper your accolades with rationality???...END OF RANT!!! :-)
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/2/2014 01:16
The game is greater than the individual.
Let us remember that Carlsen does not stand alone.
He belongs to a long line of great players from whom he has learnt as he himself acknowledges.
As Newton put it,“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Along with his peers Carlsen has inherited a rich legacy and it has to be carried forward.
Let there be a sense of balance and proportion as to how we view the chess world and its players.
iSeeThis iSeeThis 5/2/2014 03:19
To me, this tourney tells me that if we are to think of chess, we are to think of Magnus (magnus means KING). If we are to think of human error, we are to think of Magnus Carlsen (human has real name and surname, right?)
Calvin Amari Calvin Amari 5/1/2014 08:23
Magnus plays with no fear and exploits his superior skill both in micro and macro ways. In individual games, based on his confidence that he can outplay anyone, he is more than willing to risk ceding his opponent certain latitude even at the risk of being a little worse. In tournaments, he can accept significant risk of loss with the knowledge that in the long run he is likely to come out on top. In this event, he came out a full point ahead of a strong field notwithstanding two losses in a row. His ability to confine his risk taking range, both micro and macro, within his known capabilities is what elevates him above everyone else. Stepping too far over the danger line will happen from time to time, but this is a very exciting approach to chess.


Vernunft Vernunft 5/1/2014 07:13
Winning his first two games was starting badly? Really? Explain that one to me.
Omoplata Omoplata 5/1/2014 06:18
Slightly stupid that the Gashimov memorial wasn't included in the April FIDE ratings considering it finished well within April.
hpaul hpaul 5/1/2014 03:44
Another very interesting question is why literalists on the internet take seriously jokes and "theories" that are made ironically. Friedel's "theory" isn't serious, folks, it's a comedic aside. Of course Magnus doesn't like to lose. Seriously, he seems to get mentally tired after several days of play. His losses in this tournament came on days 4 and 5 of consecutive play. We remember his two concluding losses on the last day of the London Candidates, that nearly cost him the right to challenge Anand for the title.
John K John K 5/1/2014 03:12
Another very interesting question -- a companion question would be why does Nakamura always lose to him? I guess Carlsen has a hex on him, Naka is 'psyched out'. You can see moments in his games when he has clear advantages yet he doesn't find the best way. That is being psyched out. And at the same time, other opponents are able to win. So in the end, who knows. And it doesn't really matter. We have a good champion and no matter how you spin it, he is the best in the world.
gary slominski gary slominski 5/1/2014 03:03
One thing for sure is that Magnus always seems to rise to occasion in tournament play. He admitted he was wore down from schedule,and just came back like a tiger. Just the fact some might even "imply" he could be throwing games, because of surreal flair for these dramatic finishes, shows he really is something special. Maybe he is way above and beyond what has ever been seen before in chess.It is good to see chess world has a star so bright.I can only hope they play 2014 World Championship in America.
juanviches juanviches 5/1/2014 11:23
Well, this is a stupid theory. But instead I think Magnus is trying new approaches on his games so sometimes it seems he has played poorly. It can be quite usual if you are trying new openings or new ways of playing that aren't your own ones.
chyss chyss 5/1/2014 09:26
It seems very odd to place the person who made the most mistakes (i.e. had the most losses) at the head of those tied for third, simply because he had the luck to have his opponenets make the most mistakes (i.e. he had the most wins). Why value luck over skill? Very strange! Nakamura should have been 5th like on Chessvibes.
alnoth alnoth 5/1/2014 09:19
this is one of the most ridiculous things ive heard in a long time... you think anyone would jeopardize winning the tourney to the point of having to win (a draw would not suffice) the last round game against caruana? if anyone thinks that, they either dont understand how good these guys are or is just out of their mind.
Omoplata Omoplata 5/1/2014 08:25
I think any theories about Magnus deliberately throwing games or making it difficult for himself are ridiculous. Do you think he deliberately made the candidates tournament a nailbiter where Kramnik had to lose in the last round for him to win it? No. Carlsen loses some games but wins a lot more than he loses, and if he never lost he would probably seldom win either, (see Karjakin's recent tournaments for example).
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 5/1/2014 08:23
Carlsen does not like to lose. He wrote in his Arctic Securities blog, it was frustrating to lose to Caruana and Radjabov in the tournament.
Omoplata Omoplata 5/1/2014 08:22
goommba88, I mentioned in the penultimate round that Karjakin appears to be getting a reputation as an elite drawmaster, and now to draw in his final round and secure 100% draws, he has cemented that reputation further. As I said before, I can't see how he could ever challenge for the world championship, (i.e. win the candidates or beat Carlsen if he did get a match), without opening up his game. I definitely think Caruana is the most convincing challenger to Carlsen of the new generation of players.
hpaul hpaul 5/1/2014 07:40
That's a good one, Frederic. I have a slight twist on the theory. I wonder if MC doesn't feel a bit uncomfortable at being too far ahead of the pack, and sometimes plays mediocre chess (by his standard) to even the chances. In Norway we have a "law" called "janteloven". It's not a real law, but a social norm - democratic equality gone wild - that says that you mustn't think you're anything special. It's considered bad form to want to stand out, to be better than your equals. MC, like most Norwegians, has perhaps had a conflicted relationship to this "law" as he grew up, and may still be afflicted by it. In Norway you can only be a standout to the degree that you're able to put janteloven behind you.
vadvad vadvad 5/1/2014 07:26
And if Carlsen hadn't played, Nakamura would have won the tournament!
Cajunmaster Cajunmaster 5/1/2014 07:21
Sensationalism, pfff!
psychess psychess 5/1/2014 07:12
If Nakamura hadn't played in the tournament, Carlsen wouldn't have won the tournament.
vadvad vadvad 5/1/2014 04:16
You mean Drawjakin. (there you go)
goommba88 goommba88 5/1/2014 02:33
interesting how when one of my fav. players leko has a bunch of draws, people seem to go crazy and say bad things, but when Karjakin does it , nothing is said, just an observation
later
vadvad vadvad 5/1/2014 01:34
I don't think this theory applies to Carlsen, yet. But I definitely think it applied to Kasparov when he lost to Kramnik in their championship match. Kasparov wanted to give himself a challenge and beat Kramnik's Berlin, rather than opt for openings that would favour his style.
TheTrueFalcon TheTrueFalcon 4/30/2014 11:46
Chessbase, I love the new comments sections, but please quit forcing me to read them from bottom to top.

Yes.
Are you sure?
Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
Top-posting.
What is the most annoying thing in forums and newsgroups?
The Bear The Bear 4/30/2014 10:12
Chess analysts ignores a simple fact that Carlsen play every game for one purpose which is to win and that purpose entails lots of risk hence he lose some and win some. With this character he will grow to be dangerous over and over.
dr.genial@yahoo.com.br dr.genial@yahoo.com.br 4/30/2014 10:08
That theory is ridiculous. Just ask him and we will have the answer. A genius this kind is probably more concerned in beating records than fooling himself for the sake of dealing with boredom. Give him the task to finish a tourney in a perfect score (i am sure he wants that, who doesnt want to surpass Karpov 1994?), no loses, no draws, and show me any sign of boredom.
dr.genial@yahoo.com.br dr.genial@yahoo.com.br 4/30/2014 09:59
CHESSBASE, please write an article comparing Magnus vs Kasparov and try to answer why Carlsen is not yet the best ever.

P.S: Please let us stop with "it shows Magnus is just human". I am not sure where we knew otherwise. Lets just celebrate his talent and stop feeling happy when he loses, just because those loses show that he "is just a human". Do not use the word "human" to mean "weak" please.
joffly joffly 4/30/2014 09:59
He start to lose when your perf. ELO rating grew to the new record.
dr.genial@yahoo.com.br dr.genial@yahoo.com.br 4/30/2014 09:53
What else is left to elevate him to best ever? Kasparov in his prime could not stop this level of play.
LetsReason LetsReason 4/30/2014 09:15
I think some people are under a "Magnus" spell and make up the stuff of legends for him. Not sure why people feel the need to do this. I don't think Magnus is so much stronger than the field (meaning the rest of humanity) that he loses on purpose for the thrill of coming back. I think, rather, he is remarkably consistent for a human...but he is still a human and loses occasionally. It is consistent that he beats Nakamura and consistent with the past that Caruana might be the one to take him down a notch.
verticall verticall 4/30/2014 08:56
Interesting theory. I agree with the theory. No one can keep him busy. He is keeping himself busy and Makes the game interesting.
Mystical Mystical 4/30/2014 08:14
...except Stockfish ;)
Big Alex Big Alex 4/30/2014 07:52
It is an interesting theory. But I think that the super human proved that he is still human. I don't remember the last tournament that Carlsen didn't take the first place. I don't remember a tournament where a player loses two and a row and even though wins by a large margin . Five wins!!! serious?? There is no opponent in the world for him. Period.
petejr@groundservicesinc.com petejr@groundservicesinc.com 4/30/2014 07:29
when was he ever a fool ?
Omoplata Omoplata 4/30/2014 06:27
Well done Carlsen; another tournament worthy of a World Champion!
Joseph Boronka Joseph Boronka 4/30/2014 05:57
Carlsen FiЯst! good show !!
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