World Championship: Game 2 annotated by Luke McShane

by ChessBase
11/28/2021 – A remarkable battle between the protagonists of the 2021 World Championship match ended in a draw on Saturday. It was the second tense draw in a row, with both contenders showing deep theoretical preparation. Game 2 was a Catalan, and by no means was it a boring positional struggle. Grandmaster Luke McShanes analyses. | Photo: Niki Riga

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A fascinating game

By Luke McShane

Nepomniachtchi is known to favour the Grünfeld defence (with 2...g6). But Carlsen would certainly be well-prepared for that, so it is not a big surprise that we see a different second move. Carlsen steered the game toward a Catalan, which Nepomniachtchi has already faced a few times in 2021.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6  3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 b5

[7...a6 is Black’s most common move.]

8.Ne5

 

A rare choice from Carlsen.

[8.a4 is the most common move.]

8...c6 9.a4

White can win back the pawn immediately...

[...but after 9.Nxc6 Nxc6 10.Bxc6 Rb8 Black is very comfortable.]

9...Nd5

Blocking the diagonal of the Catalan bishop is the only reasonable option.

[9...Qxd4 10.Nxc6 Nxc6 11.Bxc6 Rb8 12.axb5 is very bad for Black. The queen will soon be chased away from d4.]

10.Nc3 f6 11.Nf3

One might consider keeping the diagonal open for the g2-bishop, but in fact...

[11.Ng4 would be a mistake, in view of 11...b4 which forces White’s knight back to a passive square, since 12.Ne4 f5 wins a piece]

11...Qd7

 

A sensible move, supporting the pawn on b5.

[11...b4 12.Ne4 transposes into a wild game Gelfand - Shirov, from 1992.]

12.e4 Nb4 13.Qe2 Nd3 14.e5

 

White has sacrificed a pawn, so it is natural that he  tries to create threats while Black is not yet fully developed.

14...Bb7 15.exf6 Bxf6 16.Ne4 Na6 17.Ne5

 

[17.Nxf6+ gxf6 18.Bh6 Rf7 is the computer’s first  choice, though by no means the only option. The position is very complex.] 

Replay the analysis in full on our interactive replayer below.

 

Master Class Vol.8 - Magnus Carlsen 2nd Edition

Let our authors show you how Carlsen tailored his openings to be able to outplay his opponents strategically in the middlegame or to obtain an enduring advantage into the endgame.


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