This is how contemporary chess is played

2/11/2009 – 2008. Grand Slam in Bilbao. 17-year-old Magnus Carlsen, already one of the top grandmasters in the world, faces Levon Aronian in a theoretically significant Semi-Slav. Carlsen introduces a dynamic, even shocking pawn sacrifice for the initiative. In his Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos looks at this highly instructive game. Be there at 9 p.m. ET.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Linares (no longer Morelia/Linares) starts next week, and Magnus Carlsen is among the participants. Even though he is already one of the world's absolute elite, currently #4 on the FIDE rating list and #3 on the Live Top List, he is just 18 years of age. (Be very afraid, chess world!)

2008 was a banner year for the young Norwegian, and we'll take a look at one of his many great games from that time period. He finished tied for second in the season-ending Bilbao Masters, and among his three victories was a power win over Levon Aronian. In a theoretically significant Semi-Slav (that's a redundancy nowadays) Carlsen introduced a dynamic, even shocking pawn sacrifice for the initiative. Aronian defended well for quite a while, but not long enough! It is very difficult to hold up against a prolonged initiative, and Carlsen did well by never allowing his opponent to come in reach of a stable position.

Ultimately, Aronian cracked. Carlsen had a neat tactic prepared, and Aronian's first slip was fatal. Yet it's the game as a whole that is impressive: a fine opening concept, a lively middlegame involving play all over the board, and a nice tactic to bring home the point. This is how contemporary chess is played, and Carlsen is one of its leaders.

We'll look at this game tomorrow night - Wednesday night - on ChessBase's Playchess.com server, and I hope I'll see you there. The show is free for Playchess members; just log on at 9 p.m. ET (that's Thursday morning at 3 a.m. CET for my European viewers), go to the Broadcast room, look up Carlsen-Aronian in the Games list, double-click, sit back and enjoy!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).



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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.



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