26 August 2013

The Carlsens @ Corus 2008

After the video clips showing how Carlsen Analyzes His Games, let's fill out the 2008 Corus tournament with onsite blogging by Henrik Carlsen, Magnus's father. For the original reports in their entirety, see blog.magnuschess.com on Archive.org. For the following excerpts, I've chosen the blog posts that correspond to the videos, plus a few other important moments.

Corus 2008; (see also the Chessvibes video clip Opening Ceremony, Interview Magnus Carlsen).

The Corus field is as strong as ever despite the progress on January 2008 FIDE rating of the only top 13 players missing (Morozevich, Svidler and Shirov). Magnus is ranked 10 in the tournament with an expected score of 6.3 points.

Round 1 January 12th.

Magnus was surprised by Mamedyarov's 1.e4 and chose the Sicilian as he did not expect Shakriar to go for the sharpest continuations. Shakriar indeed chose 4.g3 with a quiet set-up. Magnus felt he got sufficient counterplay on the queenside to offset the potential white kingside attack as well as the white bishop-pair. It is hard to say where Shakriar went wrong but Magnus thinks he was at least equal after 24.Qxa6 and clearly better after 32.Nh5. Magnus went on to attack the white queenside and Mamedyarov obviously disliked the position and got into time trouble.

Just before the time control Magnus sacrificed both a-pawns to threaten the bishop on g2 with 40....Ne3 and it looked lost for white after for instance 41.Ra5 Rxb2. At this stage the players thought black was winning, but they had probably both missed the defence with Bh1. Black would still have been clearly better, but it is far from obvious how to win. Anyhow Mamedyarov resigned, and Magnus was immensely pleased to secure his first Corus a win after his +0=9-4 score last year!

January 18th 2008.

We received the sad news today that former World Champion Bobby Fischer has passed away at the age of 64. He was controversial as a person but as chess player maybe the greatest ever. His book "My 60 Memorable Games" made a great impression, and I went through a number of the games with Magnus 8 or 9 years ago.

Corus 2008 Round 5 & 6.

Against Polgar Magnus played Qc2 in the Nimzo Indian variation but instead of her previously used 4.... 0-0 she played 4....d5. Magnus had looked at this variation some time back and thought 10.e3 Qf6 11.f3 looked interesting. Polgar played 10... Qf6 and indeed, white got excellent positional play despite the black knights threatening f3. Magnus continued to play fast, finding natural moves putting pressure on black weaknesses. After 40 moves he was two pawns up in the knight and bishop ending and could soon decide the game with the unstoppable h-pawn. 1-0!

Corus 2008 Round 11 & 12.

Yesterday's round 11 is old news. Despite the loss against Anand, Magnus got a lot of praise for his fighting spirit and will to win. Frankly he had lots of doubts about what to play yesterday and probably spent too much time preparing various openings. He was a bit tired (both after a short night and a long tournament), but choosing 1.e4 he was prepared to fight for a win. After Vishy played the somewhat dubious 14...Bd7 allowing 15.g5 at the right moment, Magnus felt he was better and had to go for it. When Anand offered to exchange queens with 22.Qc5 both players thought white's attack would be overwhelming and Magnus went for the pawn sacks with Qh4 instead. However, Anand defended well and after 28.Bf3 white is probably worse. Commentators have pointed out that 28.Nf3 may have been better or even decisive for white but the lines are complicated. After 32.g6+ Kg8 Magnus could probably draw with Rxf5 but missed Rhf3 after Qxd5+. (Kg1 is losing.) Short on time and not calculating at his best, he quickly played Qh7+? and the black king escapes to d6. 0-1. Anand deserves praise for a good defence and taking the opportunity when it arose.

Today the roles was reversed in that Magnus was well rested and ready for a good fight after a quiet evening yesterday and a long sleep, while Kramnik had a cold and didn't show his best play. Magnus played the Hedgehog against Kramnik's 1.c4 and looked a bit cramped after 12.Qf4 0-0. White had lots of space and active pieces. Magnus spent much time and came up with the nice sequence Ne8, Ra8-a7-d7, Nc7, f5, g5, g4 after which black has regained space and despite apparent weaknesses on the queen side, the position is fairly equal. Magnus got his knights to e4 and e5 and was maybe somewhat better when Kramnik played 29.Qxa6. After Ra7 white has go to b5 as Qxb6 loses the queen after Rfb7 Qd4 Bf6!

Magnus had expected to have to fight for a draw and for the first 25+ moves he would happily have accepted a draw offer. But, when it came after 30.Qb5, he decided he was already better due to his more flexible and active pieces and played on. Both players was low on time but in this game Magnus continued to find very good moves and at the time control black is winning! Kramnik fought on until move 57 but with two extra pawns and continues mating threats on the first rank Magnus had no real problems realizing the win. 0-1 as black against the World ranked no.1! A remarkable comeback by Magnus. He is again co-leader as Aronian drew with Ivanchuk.

Corus 2008 Final Round.

Magnus and Radjabov played the Torre system and Magnus accepted a fairly equal position in order to try to outplay his opponent in the middle game. And he was quite successful. Positionally he was clearly better with both rooks in the d-file and no apparent weaknesses. However, Radjabov found the good defence Nd6-e8-f6 and despite his better position Magnus could not find anything decisive for the next few moves and as time ran out he had to steer into a more drawish endgame towards the time control. After exchanging rooks and queens, the opposite colour bishop was easily drawn. Radjabov played on for another 20 moves desparately trying to catch up with the leaders but with 2 against 1 pawn it was a draw in the end. [...]

Both co-winners Aronian (1st on second tiebreak Sonnenborn-Berger) and Magnus expressed utter satisfaction with their performance in Corus, and Aronian also qualified for the Bilbao Grand Slam Final in September. Congratulations to Levon, a deserved and sympathetic winner, and to Magnus for his strongest tournament performance ever! (+3 against avg 2742, TPR 2830, gained 17 rating points!)

See also Press conference Carlsen Aronian r13.

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