"Magnus, and Modern chess, at its best"

12/10/2021 – The new ChessBase Magazine Extra #204 offers two opening videos on Scandinavian and Catalan as well as a total of 26 games with detailed commentary, including analyses by Anish Giri, Romain Edouard and Michal Krasenkow. Peter Heine Nielsen, Magnus Carlsen's second, contributes "The brilliancy". And of course it's about am extraordinary game by the World Champion. In the final of the Meltwater Tour 2021 Carlsen outplayed Jan-Krzysztof Duda after a novelty ("At first it looks close to insanity.") in only 18 moves. Take a look!

ChessBase Magazine Extra 204 ChessBase Magazine Extra 204

Videos: Scandinavian expert Christian Bauer shows clever evasive maneuvers in the system with 3...Da5. Mihail Marin proves that the Catalan is alive and always good for new ideas! Plus "Lucky bag" with analyses by Anish Giri, Peter Heine Nielsen, Romain E

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ChessBase Magazine Extra #204: The brilliancy

Peter Heine Nielsen comments on Magnus Carlsen - Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Meltwater Tour Final 2021, 25.09.2021)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 c5 6.e3 cxd4 7.exd4 Nxc3!? 8.bxc3 Qc7!

This move was one of the key points, when Kramnik made the Semi-Tarrasch his repertoire soon to be copied by a lot of players. Black has changed the structure from isolated pawn to hanging pawns, and immediately attacks c3, in order to avoid White developing freely as now 9.Bd3?? Qxc3+ wins a piece for Black. 9.Bd2 is the obvious move, but also is purely defensive and White never managed to develop his initiative fully after that. So Magnus tries a more ambitious concept, not caring that it costs a pawn.

9.Rb1!? Nd7 If the immediate 9...Qxc3+ then 10.Bd2 gives White a huge lead in development. Bd3 or Bb5+ is next followed by castling.

But Black does not bite that easily, and instead makes a sensible developing move, again leaving White with the question of how to progress without having to play the passive Bd2?

10.Bd3!

This is the point of Magnus' concept. As castling is a threat, and Black's 8...Qc7 then could be seen as a failure, Duda almost is forced to accept the gift.

10...Qxc3+ 11.Kf1 Forced, as 11.Bd2 obviously loses to 11...Qxd3

At first it looks close to insanity. White has not only lost a pawn, but also the right to castle, meaning his rook will not manage to connect and his king will be stuck at f1. And as Ulf Andersson once joked: Losing an isolated pawn means you have no weaknesses, but losing a hanging pawn is really bad.... Meaning Magnus is also now left with a weak isolated pawn on d4. Was this a game of a beginner we would rightly point out all these deficits, but as it is the World Champion, we will point to that his rooks will not trip over each other but have potential on their respective flanks for attack, that the king is safe on f1, and that the lead in development gives chances for a "blitz attack" against Black's undeveloped position!

11...Be7 12.h4! The rook now will appear on h3, and either the bishop or the knight, depending on circumstance, can land on g5. White's king will be perfectly safe on g1, but even doesn't really need to waste time to get there, as f1 is safe too. White's pieces all have obvious destinations, while for Black it is more complicated. For a start where to place the king? Duda does the natural thing and castles:

12...0–0 13.Rh3!

Activates the rook heading for g3, and as it threatens 14.Bxh7+ Kxh7 15.Ng5+ winning the queen on c3, Black has to retreat, giving even more momentum to the white attack.

13...Nf6? Logical but losing. Retreating was after all best, and after

13...Qc7 Black still puts up a fight.

14.Ne5! Qa5 15.Rg3 A good move,

but 15.Bh6 was even more flashy and wins too, the main point being that 15...gxh6 16.Qc1! leaves Black completely helpless against the threat of Qxh6 followed by Rg3 and mate on g7 as the knight needs to protect against mate on h7, and the rook against Nxf7. But was Magnus played is both logical and strong.

15...Kh8 16.Bg5 h6 Allows a beautiful finish, but so would 16...Qd8 as after 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 (17...gxf6 18.Qg4 mates next move!) 18.Qh5 h6 19.Rg6!! with mate to follow shortly.

17.Bxh6! gxh6 18.Qf3! Duda now thought for a few minutes, and resigned! Justifiably so. The computer suggests 18...Qd2 18 Rd1 Qxd3+ as Black's best option, but that would obviously win trivially for White. At first it might seem surprising things are that bad for Black, but White has the threat of 19.Qf4 threatening mate on h6. 18...Qd8 19.Qf4 Ng8 looks like the logical way to defend, but 20.Qxf7!! then ends the game immediately, and in style! Magnus, and Modern chess, at its best. 1–0

ChessBase Magazine Exta #204

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