05 December 2013

Following Carlsen's Reti

A recent correspondence game followed in the wake of Magnus Carlsen's worst game in the World Championship match with Viswanathan Anand. It was part of a match between Team USA: Northwest and Team Slovenia on Chess.com.

Stripes,James (2167) -- Kovač,Miha (2101) [A09]
WL2013 R9: Team USA: Northwest vs Team Slovenia Chess.com, 18.11.2013

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4

2...c6 is most popular, followed by 2...e6, and 2...d4.


3.g3 has been my normal response in more than 100 online blitz games. On the other hand, ChessBase Online has a mere 74 moves with 3.g3. 3.d4 leads the way with nearly 23,000 games. Second place, 3.e3, has 911 games.

3...Nc6 4.g3

I opted to follow Magnus Carlsen's recent WCC game, even though it had been the game that offered Anand his best prospects of winning.

4.Qxc4 has been my choice in three prior games. Two of these were in September 1999 on the Internet Chess Club--both wins.

4...g6 5.Bg2 Bg7

White to move


Playing from memory, rather than databases, I missed the path that I had chosen. Or, perhaps I had my doubts about Carlsen's position.

Carlsen's move may be best: 6.Nc3 e5 7.Qxc4 Nge7 8.0–0 0–0 9.d3 h6 10.Bd2 Nd4 11.Nxd4 exd4 12.Ne4 c6 13.Bb4 Be6 14.Qc1 Bd5 15.a4 b6 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.a5 Rab8 18.Re1 Rfc8 19.axb6 axb6 20.Qf4 Rd8 21.h4 Kh7 22.Nd2 Be5 23.Qg4 h5 24.Qh3 Be6 25.Qh1 c5 26.Ne4 Kg7 27.Ng5 b5 28.e3 dxe3 29.Rxe3 Bd4 30.Re2 c4 31.Nxe6+ fxe6 32.Be4 cxd3 33.Rd2 Qb4 34.Rad1 Bxb2 35.Qf3 Bf6 Carlsen,M (2870) -- Anand,V (2775) Chennai 2013 ½–½

6...e5 7.Nxe5!?

This interesting move has produced five draws and three White wins in ChessBase Online.

7.Qxc4 seems the safer alternative, and is the most popular choice.

Black to move

7...Bxe5 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.Qxc6+ Bd7 10.Qe4

Black to move

10...f6 11.f4 Bf5 12.Qe3

12.Qc6+ Bd7 could be a useful repetition when the time control is based on a set number of moves. White also has the option of bailing out of the game with a repetition here.


This move had not been played at move 12, but was played in the same position by Etienne Bacrot earlier this year. In that game, there had been repetitions of queen checks at c6. Bacrot lost that game, but went on to win the tournament.

Predecessor (2): 12...Qd4 13.fxe5 fxe5 14.Qxd4 exd4 Dubov,D (2624) -- Najer,E (2626) Moscow 2013 ½–½ (65)

White to move

13.Rf3 Nh6!N

An improvement over Bacrot's Bg4.

14.fxe5 Ng4

White to move


This seemingly obvious move is sub-optimal, according to Stockfish 4.

15.Qc5 Nxe5 16.Rf4 g5 17.Rf2=

15...Nxe5 16.Rf2

16.Re3 0–0 17.Qh6 Qd7 White's pieces are a long way from deployment, while all of Black's are soon in play.(17...Ng4? 18.Qxh3 Nxe3 19.dxe3 is good for White).


16...0–0-/= White still has problems deploying his forces.

17.Rf3 Ne5 18.Rf2 Ng4 19.Rf3 Ne5 ½–½

I was happy to get a draw in what developed into a slightly worse position. In this matter, too, I followed the World Champion in this line.

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