Am I Strong Enough to Question Magnus Carlsen?

It is White to move in this position:

Consider for a moment, or longer, what move you would make.

I have never liked looking at a position from a game without being able to look at the moves leading up to the position, so here they are:

1. d4 g6 2. e4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. e5 Bb7 8. e6 fxe6 9. Ng5 Nf8 10. O-O Qd7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Na2 Qxa4 14. Qe2 h6 15. Nf3 Kf7 16. Bd2 b3 17. Nc3 Qd7 18. cxb3 Rb8 19. Ra3 Nd5 20. Ne4 Kg8 21. h4 Qe8 22. Bxa6 Bxa6 23. Qxa6 Bf6 24. Qc4 Nd7 25. Nc3 N7b6 26. Qe2 Qf7 27. Ne4 Rf8

Being the kind of fellow who speaks his mind, I once fired a salvo at an editor of a prominent Chess magazine which concerned publishing truncated games. To him it “saved space.” To me it was sacrilegious not only to those who had played the game but also to the Royal Game, and Caissa. “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”― James Baldwin

I have taught Chess in a Governor’s mansion and places some would call a dive, and everything in between. If a student, any student, had played this game and now produced the move Nxf6 I would cringe in abject horror. Once I managed to gather myself I would attempt to patiently explain why the exchange was a bad idea, pointing out to my student that the doubled pawns are the major weakness in the Black position; that Black will be tied down to the weak pawn on e6 for the foreseeable future and that as long as Black is tied down to the defense of the pawn(s) he will not be able to mount any kind of offense. I could then attempt to explain that someone usually gains in an exchange, and that you would like that someone to be YOU!

Perelshteyn, Eugene vs Carlsen, Magnus

2017.09.24

Chess.com Isle of Man International Masters (2.1)

1. d4 g6 2. e4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. e5 Bb7 8. e6 fe6 9. Ng5 Nf8 10. O-O Qd7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Na2 Qa4 14. Qe2 h6 15. Nf3 Kf7 16. Bd2 b3 17. Nc3 Qd7 18. cb3 Rb8 19. Ra3 Nd5 20. Ne4 Kg8 21. h4 Qe8 22. Ba6 Ba6 23. Qa6 Bf6 24. Qc4 Nd7 25. Nc3 N7b6 26. Qe2 Qf7 27. Ne4 Rf8 28. Nf6 ef6 29. Qe6 Qe6 30. Re6 Kf7 31. Re1 Rb8 32. Rc1 Nc8 33. Ne1 Nce7 34. Nd3 g5 35. hg5 hg5 36. b4 Rh4 37. Bc3 Rbh8 38. g3 Rh1 39. Kg2 R8h2 40. Kf3 g4 41. Kg4 Rc1 42. Nc1 Rf2 43. Be1 f5 44. Kh3 Rb2 45. Nd3 Rc2 46. b5 Nf6 47. Rb3 Re2 48. b6 cb6 49. Rb6 Ne4 0-1

Perelsteyn is a GM; Carlsen is the World Human Chess Champion. It is easy for anyone with an “engine” to criticize a GM, or even the World Human Chess Champion these daze, but I have no “engine” at the moment (long story). I can criticize Eugene without use of any outside assistance because my understanding of some facets of Chess allow me to do so. In many, if not most, other facets I am certain Mr. Perelshteyn will be the one giving a lesson. When playing over the game I stopped after moving the Knight, heading to the ChessBomb for verification my judgement was correct. It was, as ‘DaBomb’ gives the move some color. It is not exactly a RED MOVE, but just a shade below. Check it out here: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2017-isle-of-man-international-masters/02-Perelshteyn_Eugene-Carlsen_Magnus

There was another game in the same tournament with Magnus facing another American GM:

Carlsen, Magnus (NOR) – Xiong, Jeffery (USA)

Chess.com Isle of Man International – Masters 2017 round 03

1. Nf3 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. d4 e6 4. Bg5 d5 5. e3 h6 6. Bh4 Nc6 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Bd3 Be7 9. O-O Nd7 10. Bxe7 Nxe7 11. Ne5 cxd4 12. exd4 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Bd7 14. Re1 Rc8 15. Nf3 b5 16. h4 a5 17. a3 Qb6 18. Qd2 b4 19. cxb4 axb4 20. a4 Ra8 21. b3 O-O 22. Rac1 Rfc8

I am watching this game thinking, “Jeffrey is holding his own against the World Human Chess Champion.” I thought Magnus had an advantage, albeit a small one. Then I noticed Magnus could play the tricky Nd4, the kind of move I would love to be able to play against a higher rated opponent. But when Magnus eschewed the tricky move for the “aggressive” 23 h5 my thoughts turned to something along the lines of, “That’s why Magnus is the World Human Chess Champion. He rejects moves that “look good,” but possibly get one into trouble in the future.” Now I began looking at 23…Rc3 for Xiong, seeing 24 Rxc3 bxc3 25 Qxc3 Rc8 and that is as far as I am able “see” because my calculating abilities leave much to be desired. Still, they are OK for teaching neophytes…I will also admit not having considered 24 Nd4 after 23…Rc3. Hey, there is much to consider in every move! After 23 h5 Jeffery moves his King, playing 23…Kf8.

“Hummm,” I’m thinking, “Magnus makes an attacking move and Jeffery responds by getting outta Dodge. Maybe he wants to play a Yasser Seirawan like King walk.” The more I consider the move, the more I do not like it, but hey, I’m not a GM. Still, it seems White’s advantage has increased after the King move… Magnus, full of aggression, now plays 24 g4!? (I am not strong enough to give the World Human Chess Champion a ?!)

Now I am thinking, “Wow. Magnus is coming right after him! But when my heart beat slows to a more normal pace I am thinking something along the lines of, “I dunno…that’s the kinda move I played far too often ‘back in the day.’ It’s the kinda move that says “All In. I’m going for broke.” I would show one of my games to IM Boris Kogan and when pushing a pawn in front of my King like this The Hulk would grimace, and say something like, “Mike. Why you play Chess?” Still, he is the World Human Chess Champion and I’m a patzer…Now Jeffery plays 24…Rc3

and I stop to reflect, objectively, about the position, and my conclusion is that there has been a real swing in fortunes the past few moves, but it looks as though Jeffery is almost even again. Now I’m thinking, “What a GAME!” Can you tell I was enjoying myself immensely?

I will give the remaining move from where we left off: 23. h5 Kf8 24. g4 Rc3 25. g5 hxg5 26. Rxc3 bxc3 27. Qxg5 Nf5 28. Bxf5 exf5 29. e6 Bxe6 30. h6 gxh6 31. Qf6 Kg8 32. Qxh6 Qb4 33. Kh1 1-0

The game can be found here: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2017-isle-of-man-international-masters/03-Carlsen_Magnus-Xiong_Jeffery

If Magnus Carlsen has a weakness it is in the opening phase of the game. I criticized him in an earlier post on this blog because he played one of my favorite openings, the Bishop’s Opening, like a patzer (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/they-bad/).

Magnus lost to Bu Xiangzhi at the World Cup in Tbilisi earlier this year in a game that began 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4, but transposed into a Two Knight’s Defense. The game is annotated by the winner in New In Chess 2017/7. Have I mentioned New In Chess is the best Chess magazine in the solar system?

Carlsen, Magnus – Bu, Xiangzhi

FIDE World Cup 2017 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be6 8. Re1 Qd7 9. Nbd2 Rab8 10. Bc2 d5 11. h3 h6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5 Bd6 15. Re1 Bxh3 16. gxh3 Qxh3 17. Nf1 Rbe8 18. d4 f5 19. Bb3 c6 20. f4 Kh7 21. Bxd5 cxd5 22. Re3 Rxe3 23. Bxe3 g5 24. Kf2 gxf4 25. Qf3 fxe3+ 26. Nxe3 Qh2+ 27. Kf1 Rg8 28. Qxf5+ Rg6 29. Ke1 h5 30. Kd1 Kh6 31. Nc2 h4 32. Ne1 h3 33. Nf3 Qg2 34. Ne1 Qg4+ 35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. Nf3 Rg1+ 0-1

Maybe Magnus should stick to playing his Bishop to b5?

chess.com Isle of Man Masters, Prizegiving, 1 October 2017 (Nikon)

Magnus and female companion after winning the Isle of Man International