18 January 2013

Carlsen -- Sokolov, Tata Steel 2013

The Spanish Torture

In the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, there are two games in the Spanish Opening, or Ruy Lopez, in the Grandmaster A Group today. Likely the opening appears in the B Group or C as well, but I have not yet checked. Sergey Karjakin played a Berlin Wall against Fabiano Caruana. In the Chess World Cup 2011, Karjakin lost a Berlin Wall to Judit Polgar, who has also defeated Garry Kasparov from that opening. Today's battle would be worth following closely, and I plan to look in from time to time.

Against Magnus Carlsen, Ivan Sokolov opted for the Archangelsk Variation. I have selected that game as my game today. As I write, the players are maneuvering in a rookless middlegame.

Carlsen,Magnus (2861) - Sokolov,Ivan (2663) [C78]
Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee (6), 18.01.2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.d3

I have been playing d3 more often after studying some of Vasily Smyslov's games. I'm happy to see Carlsen playing the move.


7...Be7 has been played twice as often.

8.a4 0–0 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bh4 d6 11.c3

Black to move
A reference game:

Karjakin,Sergey (2717) - Inarkiev,Ernesto (2675) [C78]
Jermuk FIDE GP Jermuk (9), 18.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.a4 Bb7 9.d3 0–0 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 g5 12.Bg3 Ne7 13.Na3 b4 14.Nc4 bxc3 15.bxc3 Rb8 16.Bc2 Ng6 17.d4 exd4 18.cxd4 Ba7 19.e5 Nh5 20.exd6 Nxg3 21.fxg3 Bxf3 22.Rxf3 Rb4 23.Bxg6 Rxc4 24.Kh1 Rxd4 25.Qb3 Qxd6 26.Bxf7+ Kh8 27.Raf1 Rb4 28.Bc4 Rxf3 29.Qxf3 Rb8 30.Qf7 Bc5 31.Qh5 Rf8 32.Rd1 Qf6 33.a5 Bb4 34.Qe2 Bxa5 35.Bxa6 Bc3 36.Bd3 Qe5 37.Qh5 Qf6 38.Qg4 Be5 39.Re1 Qg7 40.Qe4 Bd6 41.Bc2 Be5 42.Qd3 Bd6 43.Re6 Be7 44.g4 Rf6 45.Re1 Rf8 46.g3 Rf6 47.Kg2 Rf8 48.Re6 Rf6 49.Re1 Rf8 50.Kh3 Rf6 51.Re5 Qf7 52.Qe4 Bf8 53.Re8 Qg7 54.Rd8 Rf7 55.Rc8 Rf2 56.Rd8 h5 57.Bd3 c5 58.Bc2 hxg4+ 59.Kxg4 c4 60.Qxc4 Qf6 61.Qe4 Rxh2 62.Rc8 Qd6 63.Bb3 Rd2 64.Be6 Kg7 65.Qb7+ Kh6 66.Rc6 Qd4+ 67.Kh3 Bd6 68.Qf7 Qe5 69.Rxd6 Rxd6 70.Qf8+ Kg6 71.Qf7+ Kh6 72.Qf8+ Kg6 73.Qf7+ Kh6 74.Qf8+ ½–½


Sokolov's move had been played twice before, but not at this level.

12.Na3 Na5N 13.Bc2 b4

I started watching the game at this point. I cannot rise at 4:30 am when I'm not in bed until 11:30 pm. I went to chess club last night, which means that I am playing in the Spokane Chess Club's Winter Championship and am the top seed. Last night's game was relatively quick--just over an hour to win with Black against Ron Weyland's Colle System. Even so, I was awake later than I like.

14.Nb1 g5 15.Bg3 Nh5 16.Nbd2 Ba7

White to move

Sokolov will deprive Carlsen of the bishop pair, but the board may remain closed and favor Carlsen's knights.

17.Re1 bxc3 18.bxc3 Nxg3 19.hxg3 Qf6 20.Qe2 Rfb8 21.Rab1 Bc8 22.Nf1 Rxb1 23.Rxb1 Rb8 24.Rxb8 Bxb8

The rooks are gone.

White to move

25.Ne3 Ba7 26.d4 g4 27.Nd5 Qd8 28.Nh4 c6 29.Ne3 h5 30.Nhf5 Qf6 31.Qd3 Bb6 32.Bb1 Kf8 33.Ba2 Bc7 34.Qb1 Ke8

White to move

We believe in Carlsen's position because knights are better than bishops (and because he is Magnus Carlsen!) How do we find an advantage that can secure the full point?

35.Qb4 d5 36.Bb1

Carlsen threatens exd5, followed by Nxd5.

36...exd4 37.cxd4 dxe4 38.Bxe4

Black to move

The center pawns have been liquidated. Are Sokolov's bishops destined for power?

It is 7:48 am PST, 16:48 in the Netherlands. Games have been going a bit over three hours. Sokolov has less than five minutes to make the next few moves. Carlsen has more than half an hour on his clock.

38...Be6 39.Qc5

Update 7:53 am PST

As Carlsen improves his position, will Sokolov run out of moves?


Perhaps he will run out of time. If the website's game clock can be trusted, he has 1:05 for move 40.

Update 7:58 am PST

Is Sokolov's a-pawn ripe for plucking? Houdini 2.0 on the website puts Carlsen ahead 1.14 pawns.

Even if Carlsen knows his move, he can sit fifteen minutes or longer looking at the board. For one thing, it keeps Sokolov from using the toilet, adding physical deprivation to the pressure of a difficult position.

Meanwhile, Caruana appears to have the time increment (thirty seconds) plus about a minute for the next ten moves. Karjakin had a quarter hour plus the increment.

On the video, I watched Carlsen move, then Sokolov moved and got up from the board. I had to wait a minute before the moves appeared on the board that allows me to follow the game.

40.d5 cxd5 41.Nxd5

Black to move

Caruana -- Karjakin blitzed out to move 38 and agreed to a draw. Perhaps I will post the moves in an update. It is the only game concluded so far in the A Group.

Update 8:16 am PST

There are things that an aspiring A Class player (me) can learn by watching Carlsen convert what appears to be a slight advantage.

41...Bxd5 42.Qxd5

Sokolov's bishop pair never became a factor in this game. Can he hold the position with bishops of the opposite color?

Update 8:38 am PST

42...Kc8 43.Ne3

Black to move

Sokolov cannot protect all of his pawns.


But, Carlsen, too, has a weak pawn.

44.Kh2 Qxa4

Update 8:46 am PST

We predicted:

45.Qa8+ Kd7

But, we overlooked:


I would have played 46.Bf5+ and then snatched the a-pawn. Carlsen appears to be hunting Sokolov's king.

46...Bd8 47.Bf5+ Ke8 48.Qc8

Black to move

Sokolov resigned. Well played Magnus.


Final update

Karjakin,Sergey (2781) - Caruana,Fabiano (2780) [C67]
Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee (6), 18.01.2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Bg5 Be6 12.b3 Be7 13.Rad1 h4 14.Ne4 a5 15.a4 b6 16.Bf4 c5 17.Neg5 Bxg5 18.Nxg5 Nd4 19.Nxe6 Nxe6 20.Bc1 Rh5 21.Rfe1 Ke7 22.c3 Rah8 23.Re4 Rf5 24.Be3 Rhh5 25.Rd5

Black to move

25...Ke8 26.c4 Ke7 27.f3 g6 28.Kf2 Rh8 29.Rd1 Rfh5 30.Kf1 Nd8 31.Rxh4 Rxh4 32.Bg5+ Ke6 33.Bxh4 Rxh4 34.Rxd8 Rd4 35.Re8+ Kd7 36.Rf8 Ke7 37.Rc8 Kd7 38.Rf8 Ke7 ½–½

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