MVL Versus Magnus Carlsen: Fooling Caissa

Two consecutive tournament wins ahead of Carlsen

by André Schulz

Four players were at the top in the Norway Chess tournament at the start of round nine: Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. Caruana and So met each other, while Carlsen was dealt black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Nakamura faced off against Levon Aronian, also with black. Even Viswanathan Anand, with 3½ points, had chances jump into a tie for first with a win, although the 15th World Champion was black as well, against Sergey Karjakin.

Carlsen, was in no mood to take any chances against Vachier-Lagrave. When the game was in full swing on just move 17, the players began repeating moves in a position reached several times before. It certainly played a role that the two players trained together for Carlsen’s 2016 World Championship title defence, as Magnus himself pointed out in the “confession box” (in Norwegian):

The World Champion conceded half the point. Considering his chances to reach a tiebreak as about 50/50, he was content to watch his rivals fight it out.

Unfortunately, I do not understand Norwegian so the accompanying video could not be understood. What I do understand is that Magnus Carlsen, rather than fight like a World Champion, decided to be content with a draw. The decision by the HWCC was an insult to Caissa, and a disgraceful act unworthy of a World Champion. What kind of example has Magnus Carlsen set for all the children playing the Royal game? The above noted article at Chessbase seems to take the position, like most of the Chess world, that what Magnus did was perfectly acceptable. Chess is dying by draw, yet one hardly ever notices a discussion concerning the proliferation of draws. THERE ARE NO DRAWS IN THE ANCIENT ORIENTAL GAME OF GO! Before you send that nasty email, I am aware of the triple Ko situation in Go, in which the game is declared drawn. It happens about as often as a leap year, and when it does occur it makes news all around the Go world. Magnus did not have to agree to a draw; he did it because he is the HWC and can do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, without being called out by anyone involved with Chess. Magnus decided to rest on his laurels. As we say in America, Magnus CHICKENED OUT! I would have more respect for the HWCC if he had fought, and lost, while trying to win, rather than meekly acquiescing to a draw.

The moves in the game have been played so many times one cannot help but wonder if the fix was in…Was it a prearranged draw? Let us examine the “game.”

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

vs World Champ Magnus Carlsen

Altibox Norway Chess 2018

Last round, with all the marbles on the line.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a3 (Stockfish at the CBDB shows 8 a4 as the best move)
8…O-O (Although Komodo shows this as the best move, Houdini has 8…Na5 best)

9. Nc3 (One Stockfish program has this as best, but the other prefers 9 Ba2. Komodo shows 9 Re1 as best)

Na5 (The most often move played in this position is 9…Bg4, and it is the choice of the Dragon. Houdini would play 9…Rb8)

10. Ba2 Be6 11. b4 Bxa2 12. Rxa2 Nc6

13. Bg5 (Although the Stockfish program at ChessBomb shows this best at depth 21 after 30 seconds of ‘reflection’, the Stockfish program at the ChessBaseDataBase at depth 30 gives 13 Nd5. Komodo at depth 24 would play 13 h3)

13…Ng4 (SF at the Bomb has this in second behind 13…Nd7. The Fish and the Dragon at the CBDB would play 13…Qd7)

14. Bd2 (The SF at CBDB plays this move, but Komodo would play 13 Be3, a TN. Meanwhile, the SF at ChessBomb would play 14 Bxe7)


(Let us stop here too reflect a moment. If the Royal game had the Ko rule, as does Go MVL would not be allowed to play 15 Bg5 and repeat the position. MVL would be forced to play elsewhere)

15.Bg5 (SF at CBDB plays 15 Re1; SF at DaBomb would play either 15 Qb1 or Ra1)

Ng4 16. Bd2 Nf6 17. Bg5 1/2-1/2

Pathetically pitiful…

From the above it is apparent there was a plethora of choices each player could have chosen, had they been inclined to do so. They were not so inclined, for whatever reason. To their credit, fellow countrymen Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So played a full-bodied game of Chess, with neither backing down and offering a draw. THEY PLAYED TO WIN!

Magnus Carlsen embarrassed himself and his reputation with his servile acquiescence to split the point. Magnus took a page out of the old Soviet Union Chess playbook when he decided to not fight in the last round of a major tournament held in HIS OWN COUNTRY! Oh, the SHAME…

Since the candidates tournament I have vacillated between the choice of Magnus versus Fabiano to win the upcoming World Human Chess Championship. The fact is that Caruana has shown much more fighting spirit in the tournaments in which the two have battled since the candidates tournament. Fabiano Caruana has demonstrated tremendous FIGHTING ability recently. We Chess fans can only wish the WCC were longer, as in the past. Mikhail Botvinnik considered sixteen games the optimum number of games, and who would know better than the Botvinnik? If it were a sixteen game match, without any speed games in case of a tie, I would wager on Fabi. Magnus is a much superior speed Chess player, so Magnus has draw odds going into the match, which is an unfair advantage. Speed Chess is NOT Chess! It is ABSURD to settle a WCC with speed games. I have often heard that “speed kills.” Speed Chess is killing the Royal game! The title of WCC should NOT be won by playing speed Chess!


Magnus Carlsen’s Bishop’s Opening

Having recently annotated a Bishop’s Opening played in the Women’s World Championship I had not intended on annotating the following game played in the ongoing Altibox Norway Chess 2018 tournament, but since it was yet another BO played by the human World Champion Magnus Carlsen, versus his challenger for the crown later this year, my mind was changed. Rather than making extensive comments I decided to make only a few pertinent comments, since the game has been annotated by many, including video(s) of the game, which can be found everywhere. In addition, Chessbase is now advertising a new video, The Bishop’s Opening and the Italian game, by GM Sergei Tiviakov.

I could not help but wonder if this product is being brought to the market now because of its use by the World Champ, Magnus Carlsen? The article/advertisement is authored by Davide Nastasio, who writes for the Georgia Chess Magazine (, which is now mainly devoted to reviews in lieu of articles concerning Georgia Chess. He begins the article, “This DVD could be Carlsen’s answer to Caruana’s unbeatable Petroff Defence.” I can only hope Magnus opens with 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 one time in the upcoming World Championship. Imagine one of your “off-beat” openings that has been derided and ridiculed for decades being played in a match for the human World Championship!

The aforementioned game ( between Zhongyi Tan

and Wenjun Ju

began 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+. This caused a pause to study the position. The automatic response seems to be the move played, 7 c3. What if white plays 7 Bd2? Black could (should?) retreat the bishop as taking the bishop on d2 would mean black has moved his bishop twice in order to take a piece that has only moved once, thereby facilitating his opponents development. It would appear blacks best move would be to simply play 7…Bd6. But what if black takes the bishop? Does white take with the knight, playing , after 8…Bxd2, 9 Nxd2, or 9 Qxd2? These are the kinds of things argued about “back in the day.” Stockfish at ChessBomb gives 7 c3 in this particular position as best)

Magnus Carlsen (NOR)

vs Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 round 01

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ (Wenjun Ju played a5 6. a4 Bb4+ vs Zhongyi Tan. See below) 6. Bd2 Bxd2+ 7. Nbxd2 (Magnus takes with the knight. What do the CDMs know? They know Magnus made an inferior move. They also know that now, without the inclusion of a5 followed by a4, the best move in the position is 7 Qxd2) 7…a5 8. c3 Nbd7 9. exd5 cxd5 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Re8 12. Nf1 b5 13. a4 b4 14. cxb4 axb4 15. Ne3 Bb7 (Nc5 is better)

16. d4? (Stockfish considers this move leaving a completely equal position, while 16 Nf5 gives white with an advantage of about half a pawn. Which move would you make? GM Daniel King in his video of the game found at Chessbase ( does not mention the much better 16 Nf5) 16…e4 17. Ne5 Nxe5 18. dxe5 Rxe5 19. Qd4 Re7

20. Rac1? (When seeing this move I thought it might be a misprint. After becoming apparent it was the move played I could hear IM Boris Kogan asking, as he did so often when going over my games, “Mike, why you move rook protecting completely passed pawn when you could move other rook to the c-file?” Why indeed. GM Daniel King

glossed over this move, saying “Rac1 looks good to occupy the open file,” continuing as if it were the most natural move in the game. Frankly, the video leaves much to be desired. If GM King had been reviewing a game by one of his students, would he have praised the move? Or would he mention the possibility the move was inferior to Rec1? Why are other GMs afraid to criticize the human World Champion? Back in the day we accepted moves played by a World Champ almost without question. There is a reason Magnus is the human World Champion, but still…He is, after all, HUMAN. To NOT criticize the Champ is a disservice to we fans of the Royal game. We the Fans deserve better than twenty-two minutes of insipid drivel, which can be seen below providing you have twenty-two minutes to waste) 20…Rd7 21. Red1 h6 22. Rc5 Ra5 23. Rxa5 Qxa5 24. h3 Kh7 25. Rc1 Rc7? (GM King quotes Magnus as saying, “This is insane.” Stockfish at the ChessBomb gives the “sane” 25… Qa6 26. Rd1 Qa5 27. Rc1 Qa6, which likely leads to a draw, as best. After winning the candidates tournament, earning the right to face Magnus for the World Championship, I predicted Fabiano would beat Magnus. That was before watching Fabi play game after game, and tournament after tournament, in lieu of resting, and preparing, for the most important match of his life. Caruana has made weak move after weak move, followed by blunder after blunder, since becoming challenger. All I can say now is Caruana’s chances have diminished considerably. Unless things change DRAMATICALLY Fabi will be fortunate to not be blown out of the match early on…There is no more to be said about this game. I give the remaining moves for the record)

26. Rxc7 Qxc7 27. Qxb4 Qc1+ 28. Bd1 Ba6 29. Qd4 Be2 30. Kh2 Bxd1 31. Nxd1 Qc7+ 32. Kg1 Qc1 33. b4 e3 34. fxe3 Ne4 35. Qxd5 Nd2 36. Qf5+ Kh8 37. Qg4 f5 38. Qe2 Ne4 39. Qe1 Qa1 40. a5 Nd6 41. Qd2 Nc4 42. Qd4 Qc1 43. Kf1 Nxe3+ 44. Qxe3 Qxd1+ 45. Kf2 Qc2+ 46. Kg3 g5 47. Qe5+ Kh7 48. Kh2 f4 49. Qd5 Qa4 50. Qf7+ Kh8 51. Qg6 Qxb4 52. Qxh6+ Kg8 53. Qxg5+ Kh7 54. Qh5+ Kg7 55. Qg5+ Kh7 56. h4 Qd6 57. Qh5+ Kg7 58. Qg5+ Kh7 59. h5 f3+ 60. g3 f2 61. Qg6+ Kh8 62. Qxd6 f1=Q 63. Qh6+ Kg8 64. Qe6+ Kh8 65. Qe3 Qb5 66. Qc3+ Kh7 67. g4 Qd5 68. Qc7+ Kg8 69. Kg3 Qe6 70. Qd8+ Kh7 71. Qd3+ Kh8 72. a6 Qe5+ 73. Kh3 Qa1 74. Qd8+ Kh7 75. Qe7+ Kh6 76. Qe3+ Kh7 77. a7 1-0

Zhongyi Tan (CHN) 2522 – Wenjun Ju (CHN) 2571

FIDE Women’s World Championship 2018 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. exd5 cxd5 10. Na3 Nbd7 11. Re1 h6 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. d4 e4 14. Nd2 Nb6 15. f3 Re8 16. Bc2 Bd7 17. Rb1 exf3 18. Nxf3 Ne4 19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Bxb5 21. axb5 Rxe5 22. Be3 Re6 23. Bd4 Nc4 24. Bd3 Qg5 25. b3 Ncd6 26. Rb2 Rae8 27. Rbe2 Nf5 28. Bc2 Nh4 29. Qd3 Ng6 30. Be3 Qh5 31. c4 Ne5 32. Qd4 Rg6 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34. Kf1 Nf3 35. Qd7 Nxh2+ 0-1

Magnus Carlsen (2877) vs Fabiano Caruana (2801)

2nd Sinquefield Cup 2014
Saint Louis USA 08/29/2014
C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg5 dxe4 8. dxe4 h6 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Bg3 Bc7 12. O-O Nh5 13. h3 Nxg3 14. fxg3 Nc5 15. Bxf7+ Kxf7 16. Nxe5+ Kg8 17. Ng6 Qg5 18. Rf8+ Kh7 19. Nxh8 Bg4 20. Qf1 Nd3 21. Qxd3 Rxf8 22. hxg4 Qxg4 23. Nf3 Qxg3 24. e5+ Kxh8 25. e6 Bb6+ 26. Kh1 Qg4 27. Qd6 Rd8 28. Qe5 Rd5 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. e7 Qh5+ 31. Nh2 Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33. Nf1 Qxf1+ 34. Kh2 Qg1+ 0-1