Chess News

Mamedyarov – Carlsen

FIDE Chess Grand Prix Baku 2008 preview

The Chess Grand Prix in Baku will be a very strong event with average ELO over 2700. Surprisingly, the top two players are young talents – Carlsen and Mamedyarov. Both will stribe for victory, Carlsen having the psichological advantage of recent victories, and Mamedyarov having the home field advantage. Here is a recent game from Corus. You can find the live games from the Grand Prix at the 2008 Baku Chess Grand Prix general page.

Shakhryar Mamedyarov – Magnus Carlsen
Corus Wijk Aan Zee 2008
Round 1

Mamedyarov decided to start this game in very aggressive fashion. He wants to avoid Carlsen’s Nimzo indian/Queen’s indian and Ragozin defence 1. d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bf6 4. Bg5 Bb4 which became very popular lately.

1… c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3
Interesting decision! Mamedyarov didn’t want to play d4 with classical Sicilian lines. He is more willing to play 3.Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 with small positional advantage and long battle thereafter. The same line Gata Kamsky used against Alexey Shirov in the World Cup final.

3… g6!?
Carlsen is inviting Mamedyarov into the Accelerated Dragon!! I can’t remember when he used this line in his practice, particularly on high level and in such an important game. Good news for all Accelerated Dragon fans!

A bit surprising, and I would add, disappointing move by Mamedyarov. We were expecting d4 with classical Sicilian variations and long theoretical battle. Although, with 4.g3 he would like to play sort of closed Sicilian and maybe even surprise the young chess prodigy….

4… Bg7 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Bg4!?
There is only one high-level game in the database that featured this move, Romanishin – Gulko, Leningrad 1975. Boris Gulko demonstrated high class and converted nice development advantage into full point.

7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nf6!?
Novelty in regard to the above mentioned game. Gulko continued with e6!?, putting his knight on e7 and going for d5 afterwards. That looks like a very interesting idea.

9.d3 O-O 10.Qd1 Nd7!?
Opening “Dragon” bishop from g7 and achieving full domination over the h8-a1 diagonal. Of course, there is important struggle ongoing for d4 square (Knight will jump there) with support of Rb8, b5-b4…

Expected. White wants to put Bishop on e3, and then either play Knight on e2 to push d4 (in the center) or to play g4-g5 with following Ne2-Ng3 going for attack on the king side.

11… c4!
Very strong positional move! I think we are on the crossroad of this game! If Mamedyarov takes on c4, then after 12…Bc3 13.bc3 white will have to deal with triple pawns and those will be an easy object to attack! Definitely we should expect something like 12.Be3.

Perhaps a player of my caliber shouldn’t give question marks after some moves of the top players, but simply I don’t think this was a good decision. Although, after 12…Bc3 13.bc3 Qa5 white will have triple pawns, but on the other hand white will still hold a pair of bishops. Anyway, as far as I am concerned, 12.dc4 is questionable.

12… Na5
Basically all the following moves will be focused on creating triple pawns, but in the best possible move order. There is another idea, where Carlsen plays Rc8 instead of Bc3 and it also looks interesting, but I don’t think Mamedyarov will have any problems there. Somehow this position begins to look like Dragon Sicilian with g3 by white, since d4 and c5 pawns are exchanged….

Preparing to reduce the strength of bishop on g7 by playing c3.

13… Nxc4 14.c3 Ndb6 15.Qe2 Rc8
We are in the middle of a typical middlegame, where both sides play their developing moves. White will have to find a way to exploit e-file and he would be very happy to take with e-pawn on d5 should black exchange the Knights. This would create weak pawn on e7. But it is hard to believe that Carlsen will run into ambush.

If Mamedyarov is playing such move in early stage of the game, it is more than obvious that he is not happy with his position. It is about equal, but don’t forget that he is white in this game and that he should have tried something more aggressive. I don’t see anything “breaking” at this moment so we could expect move like e6, Re8 or Qd7….

16… e6
Driving the Knight away from d5, and now White can retreat either on e3 (supporting f5 idea) or to take on b6.

17.Nb4 Na4
Very interesting move, after which Carlsen is trying to improve knight’s position to c5. Also at some point Qb6 might be possible (now we can see an importance of 16.Kh2 by white) and at some point even Nc3 could be tempting motif.

Quite expected since white has pair of bishops and he has to open the position as soon as possible. After 18…Be5 19. Nd3 Qb6 20. Ne5 Ne5 position should be very messy!

18… Re8?!
Once again I am putting question mark, but this time to Carlsen! Did he blunder 19.f6! Bf6 Qf2 Kg7 and all black pieces are tied up? I think Mamedyarov would definitely have time to organize attack on the king side!

Carlsen should be happy that Mamedyarov didn’t continue with f6!?

19… fxe6 20.Nd3 Qb6 21.h4 Qa6 22.Rf2 Ne5 23.Nf4 Nc5 24.Qxa6 bxa6 25.Re2 h6 26.Kh1
It seems like Mamedyarov is having lots of problems to complete queenside development. In addition, move Kh1 can’t bring him anything useful (except maybe preventing some checks on g4) and it is obvious that Mamedyarov is waiting while Carlsen will try to improve his position with every next move…

26… a5
Carlsen will try to drive his pawn to a4, to fix b2 weakness, then pile up Rooks over the b-file and to play against b2 pawn.. .but on the other hand, Mamedyarov will play against d6 weakness. I still find his bishop on g2 almost useless since it shoots into his own pawn!

27.Be3 a4 28.Rd1 Rc6
Perhaps interesting plan could be Kh7 (protecting g6 pawn), then Nf7 holding d6 square and finally Reb8 and Rcb6….

29.Bd4 g5!?
Quite risky since it allows Nh5.

30.Nh3 g4 31.Nf4 Rb6
This was nice maneuver to get himself rid of g6 weakness by pushing that pawn to g4…now it’s time to organize counterattack over b-file and against b2 pawn.

32.Nh5 Bh8 33.Red2 Reb8
Just as we predicted, Carlsen is taking advantage of b-file, pressures against b2, and Mamedyarov will definitely have to take some actions, for example with…. 34 Nf4 Bg7 35. Ne6!? Ne6 36. Bb6 Rb6 and Black is maybe only slightly better. Maybe it is even unclear ending.

Mamedyarov is forcing exchanges but it only ads in black’s favor after 35…Kf7!

34… dxc5 35.Rd8+ Kf7! 36.Rxb8 Rxb8 37.Rd2 Nc4?!
I wouldn’t tag this move as mistake, but definitely Ke7 was more to the point since it would keep the control of d7 square, preventing Rd7, all together with Ra7.

38.Rd7+ Ke8 39.Rxa7 Be5 40.Rxa4 Ne3!
Absolutely unexpected! Idea is Rd8 followed by Rd1! Of course, 40…Ne3! 41.b3 Rd8! The resignation might have been premature decision as 41. b3 Rd8! 42. Kg1 was still struggling. Nevertheless, after 42…Rd2! with Nd1-Bc3-Bd4, Black seems to be winning. Congratulations to Magnus Carlsen for the fantastic start at the 2008 Corus! Miodrag over and out :)


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