26 January 2013

Tata Steel Chess, Round 12

The 75th Tata Steel Chess tournament ends tomorrow. With two rounds remaining, Magnus Carlsen leads by a full point over Levon Aronian. Viswanathan Anand is behind Carlsen 1 1/2 points, and three players have a chance to tie the leader if he loses his last two games. One of these, Hikaru Nakamura, opted for the aggressive Kalashnikov Sicilian against Carlsen today. This game bears watching. Can Nakamura upset the leader? Anand and Aronian have relatively easier opponents.

By the time the games have been going for 2 1/2 hours, it will be time for me to leave the house, and my internet connection. Today is the eleventh annual Winterfest Scholastic chess tournament, an event that I created and run. As many as 143 young chess players have competed in this event in past years, although it will be much smaller today. By the time my event is over, the players in Wijk aan Zee will be asleep.

Carlsen,Magnus (2861) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2769) [B32]
75th Tata Steel Chess Group A Wijk aan Zee (12), 26.01.2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5

White to move

I played this variation of the Sicilian in the 1990s before switching to the Sveshnikov (4...Nf6 and 5...e5). Vladimir Kramnik played the Sveshnikov in his youth, but switched to more solid defenses when he started playing against the world's top players.

The Kalashnikov is similar to the Pelikan, which was a frequent choice of Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais in his match with Alexander MacDonnell. In the Pelikan, Black plays 5...a6, which permits 6.Nd6. MacDonnell played 5.Nxc6, which is now considered a positional error, thanks to La Bourdonnais's terrific win in one game that every chess player should study.

The Kalashnikov would seem too risky for top-level grandmasters, but checking the database reveals a number of games. Garry Kasparov played it once in 1997. Vasily Ivanchuk and Teimour Radjabov both have played it on multiple occasions.

Reference games:

Nakamura,Hikaru (2774) - Radjabov,Teimour (2744) [B32]
Bazna Kings 5th Medias (9), 20.06.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 b5 8.Nd5 Nge7 9.c4 Nxd5 10.cxd5 Nd4 11.Bd3 g6 12.Nc2 Bg7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Be3 Kh8 15.Rc1 f5 16.f3 Bd7 17.Qd2 f4 18.Bf2 g5 19.Nxd4 exd4 20.Be2 Qb6 21.Rfd1 Rac8 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.b4 Be5 24.a3 Kg7 25.Kf1 Kf7 26.Ke1 Qc7 27.Bxd4 Bxd4 28.Qxd4 Qc3+ 29.Qxc3 Rxc3 30.Rd3 Rxd3 31.Bxd3 h5 32.g3 h4 33.gxf4 gxf4 34.Kd2 Kf6 35.Kc3 Ke5 36.a4 Be8 37.Be2 Bd7 38.Bf1 Be8 39.axb5 axb5 40.Kd3 Bd7 41.Ke2 Kd4 42.Kd2 Ke5 43.Kd3 Bc8 44.Kc3 Bd7 45.Kd3 Bc8 46.Kc3 Bd7 ½–½

Carlsen,Magnus (2837) - Radjabov,Teimour (2788) [B32]
Wch Rapid Astana (14), 08.07.2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 a6 6.Nd6+ Bxd6 7.Qxd6 Qe7 8.Qxe7+ Ngxe7 9.Nc3 d5 10.Bd2 Be6 11.0–0–0 0–0–0 12.f3 Kc7 13.b3 f6 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Nxd5+ Rxd5 16.Bd3 h6 17.Be4 Rd7 18.Bc3 Rhd8 19.Rxd7+ Rxd7 20.Re1 Bd5 21.Bf5 Rd8 22.Kb2 Bf7 23.Bd3 Bd5 24.a4 a5 25.Re3 Nb4 26.Bf5 Nc6 27.g3 b6 28.f4 Re8 29.fxe5 Nxe5 30.Bd4 Bc6 31.h4 Nf3 32.Rxe8 Bxe8 33.Bf2 g5 34.Kc3 Bc6 35.Kb2 Be8 36.c3 Bc6 37.Ka3 Bd5 38.Bc2 Bc6 39.c4 Bd7 40.Be4 Bc6 41.Bf5 Be8 42.Kb2 Bc6 43.Kc3 Be8 44.Be4 Bc6 45.Bf5 Be8 46.Be6 Bc6 47.Bg4 Be4 48.hxg5 hxg5 49.c5 bxc5 50.Bxc5 f5 51.Bh5 Bd5 52.Be3 Kc6 53.Bg6 Be6 54.Be8+ Kb7 55.Bb5 Bd5 56.Bd3 Be6 57.Bc2 Kc6 58.Bd1 Bd5 59.Be2 Kb7 60.Bd1 Be4 61.Bc5 Bd5 62.Bd6 Kc6 63.Be7 Kd7 64.Bf8 Kc6 65.Bg7 Kc7 66.Be2 f4 67.gxf4 gxf4 68.Bh6 Bxb3 69.Bxf4+ Kd8 70.Bxf3 Bxa4 71.Kd4 Bb3 72.Bd6 Kd7 73.Ke5 a4 ½–½

5.Nb5 d6 6.g3 h5 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Nge7 10.Bg2 Bg4 11.f3 Be6 12.c3 h4 13.Nc2 Bxd5 14.exd5 Na5 15.f4 Nf5 16.g4 h3 17.Be4 Nh4 18.O-O g6 19.Kh1

Black to move

19...Bg7 20.f5 gxf5 21.gxf5 Ng2 22.f6 Bf8 23.Qf3

Black to move

By this point in the game, Carlsen believed he was winning.

23...Qc7 24.Nb4 Nb7 25.Nc6 Nc5 26.Bf5 Nd7 27.Bg5 Rg8 28.Qh5 Nb6 29.Be6 Rxg5 30.Qxg5 fxe6 31.dxe6 1–0

Magnus Carlsen offers analysis in a postgame video.

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