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.]



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.]


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]



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.


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