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Magnus Carlsen: Quite a nice mate!

Magnus Carlsen in Wijk Aan Zee 2004

This is the continuation of the classic story from New In Chess magazine where the 13-year old Magnus Carlsen himself describes how he blew everybody away with his performance in the C Group at Wijk aan Zee. This story was published in 2004 and gives an unique insight in the early development of the World #1.

Read part 1 here  / Promo offer by New In Chess here

Magnus Carlsen on Wijk Aan Zee, part 2

In Round 9 I lost against Pavasovic and then met the two lowest-rated opponents before facing co-leader Ernst in the penultimate round. At this point we both had 9 out of 11, and as Ernst had beaten third-placed Smeets the round before, this was the C-group final.

1. e4 c6 A surprise on the first move! I had prepared for the Open Ruy Lopez. 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 Ngf6 12. 0-0-0 Be7 13. Ne4 Qa5 13… Nxe4 could have been played, when 14. Qxe4 Nf6 15. Qd3 Qd5 ( 15… Qa5 16. Kb1 0-0 is like the game ) 16. Kb1 !? ( 16. c4 is more usual ) 16… Nxh5 17. Bc1 with 18.Ne5 to follow, gives very reasonable compensation for the pawn. 14. Kb1 0-0 15. Nxf6 Nxf6 Not 15… Bxf6 16. g4! 16. Ne5 ( 16. g4 anyway was introduced by Polgar against Anand in Wijk aan Zee 2003, but thinking that Ernst clearly knew more about this line I decided on a quieter line. ) 16… Rad8 17. Qe2 This was the last move that I knew, but I had already spent 45 minutes on what line to choose. 17… c5?! 17… Qb6 18. c3 ( 18. Rd3 was recommended by annotators, but it seems to be possible to take the pawn with 18… Rxd4 19. Be3 Re4! with just about enough compensation for the pawn) 18… c5 was definitely a better route to take for Black.

18. Ng6! Of course! 18… fxg6? Here 18… Rfe8 19. Nxe7 Rxe7 20. dxc5 was a long way from full equality. 19. Qxe6 Kh8 20. hxg6! Black is in fact defenseless here. 20… Ng8 The best try. 20… Rd7 or 20… Rde8 both lose to 21. Rxh6 gxh6 22. Bxh6 Rg8 ( in the latter case 22… Qb6 23. g7 Kh7 24. gxf8 Bxf8 25. Qf7 Kxh6 26. f4! mates) 23. Qf7 cxd4 24. Bg5! 21. Bxh6! gxh6 22. Rxh6! The real point. 22… Nxh6 23. Qxe7 Nf7 The only move.

24. gxf7! Interestingly, 24. Qf6? Kg8 25. Rh1 Nh6 26. Qe7 Nf7 27. Qf6 had occurred before in a game Almagro Llanas-Gustafsson, Madrid 2003, and is only a draw. 24… Kg7 24… Qb6 25. Qe5 Kh7 26. Rh1 Kg6 27. Rh5 when to avoid mate Black has to give the queen with 27… Qf6 28. Rh6 would result in a lost endgame. 25. Rd3 25. Qe5! Kxf7 26. Rd3 would have forced 26… Qe1 to avoid mate.} 25… Rd6 Loses a lot of material on the spot, but the best try 25… Qb6 26. Rg3 Qg6 27. Rxg6 Kxg6 28. d5 wins easily as well. 26. Rg3 Rg6 27. Qe5 Kxf7 27… Kh7 28. Qh5 Rh6 29. Qf5 Kh8 30. Qe5 mates. 28. Qf5 Rf6? 28… Ke7? or 28… Ke8? are both followed by 29. Re3 29. Qd7

Quite a nice mate! After this I had a one-point lead and the better tie-break, but I also wanted to play a proper game in the last round. My last game as Black against Smeets, although in fact quite short, was an eventful draw. Having finished on 10½ out of 13, I exceeded the GM norm by one point and had had my best tournament ever. The excellent playing conditions clearly contributed to my good result, and I thoroughly enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the presence of the world stars in the same room.

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