Magnus Carlsen Plays the Bishop’s Opening with Qe2!

Magnus Carlsen

vs Hou Yifan

Grenke Classic 2018 round 02

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 (The ChessBase DataBase shows this move with a better percentage than the most often played move, Nf3.) Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Qe2!

(Magnus, MY MAN! Does Magnus read the AW? Stats show many Norwegian readers… Nf3 is the most often played move, with Bb3 lagging way behind, while Stockfish at DaBomb has Nc3 listed above Qe2.)

Be7 (Houdini and Stockfish at the CBDB prefer 4…Bc5, but Komodo considers the little played 4…d5 best. Meanwhile, the SF at DaBomb has the game move #1)

5. Nf3 d6 (5…O-O is the most often played move) 6. c3 (Houdini and Komodo would castle. Stockfish plays h3, a TN) Nbd7 (6…O-O 7. Bb3 Qc7 8. Nbd2 b6 9. Nf1 Nbd7 10. Ng3 Nc5 11. Bc2 Re8 12. O-O Ba6 13. Re1 Bf8 14. Bg5 Nfd7 15. Qd2 Ne6 16. d4 Nxg5 17. Nxg5 h6 18. Nh3 c5 19. Bb3 Rad8 20. Rac1 Bb7 21. Ba4 a6 22. Bxd7 Qxd7 23. d5 Kh7 24. f3 g6 25. Nf2 h5 26. Qc2 Bh6 27. Rcd1 Qe7 28. Nh3 Bc8 29. Nf2 Qg5 30. Nf1 Bd7 31. Ne3 b5 32. Kh1 Rb8 33. Ra1 Qh4 34. Nf1 a5 35. Qe2 c4 36. Rab1 Rec8 37. Nd1 Rc7 38. Nde3 Kh8 39. g3 Qe7 40. Nd2 1/2-1/2, Dusan Tatalovic (2271) v Akos Pletl (2131), Bajmok-ch op 8th, 2005)

7. Bb3 O-O 8. O-O a5 9. d4 a4 10. Bc2 Re8 11. Re1 Bf8 12. Qd1 b5 13. Nbd2 Qc7 14. Nf1 g6 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bd2 Bg7 (Black has a decent game. 16…Nb6 would keep it that way.)

17. Ng3 ( (17. Qc1 Kh7 18. b3 axb3 19. axb3 Rxa1 20. Qxa1 Bb7 and only then 21 Ng3) Nb6 18. b3 axb3 19. axb3 Rxa1 20. Qxa1 Bg4 21. Qc1 (Because of the threat of taking the knight with the bishop, either 17 Nh4, or 17 Bd1 appear to be better)

Bxf3 22. gxf3 h5 23. Bh6 Qe7 (23…Nbd7 improves)

24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. Qg5 Kh7 26. f4 (26 Ra1 taking the open rook file is better)

Nfd7 (26…exf4! and the game is even, Steven)

27. Qxe7 Rxe7 28. fxe5 dxe5 29. Rd1 Re8 (29…Kg7, a subtle move simply improving the position of the worst placed piece, is better)

30. dxe5 Nxe5 (h4!) 31. f4 Ng4 32. Rd6 Re6 33. Rd8 Kg7 (33…Ne3!?)

34. Nf1 (This move tosses the advantage. 33 Bd1; Ne2; Bd3; and h3 were all better moves)

Rf6? (This move gives Magnus advantage enough to win the game. Simply 34…Nf6 kept the game even, as would 34…c5. Now Hou is in deep doo…)

35. h3 Nh6 36. f5 gxf5 37. Ng3 Rg6

38. Kf2? (This is a huge mistake, once again tossing away the advantage. I would have made the move, but then, I am not the human World Champion. Although it seems natural to move the King toward the ‘action’ such is not the case. Consider the line, 38 Kh2 fxe4 39 Nxh5+ Kh7 40 Nf4 Rg5 41 Bxe4+)

fxe4? (Stockfish shows this line: 38… Rg5 39. Bd1 fxe4 40. Nxh5+ Kh7 41. Nf6+ Kg7 42. Nxe4 Rd5 43. Rxd5 Nxd5, with an even game. She never gets another opportunity as Magnus keeps a firm grip while strangling the life outta the woman.)

39. Nxh5+ Kh7 40. Bxe4 f5 41. Bg2 Nf7 42. Rf8 Ne5 43. Nf4 Rd6 44. Rxf5 Nbd7 45. Ke2 Kg7 46. h4 Nf7 47. Be4 Nde5 48. Nh5+ Kh6 49. Ng3 Re6 50. Ke3 Kg7 51. Rf1 Kf8 52. Nf5 Ng4+ 53. Kf4 Nf6 54. Bf3 Nd5+ 55. Bxd5 cxd5 56. Ra1 Kg8 57. Ra8+ Kh7 58. Ra7 Rf6 59. h5 Kg8 60. Rd7 b4 61. cxb4 1-0