Another year, another match win for Magnus Carlsen! But there were some differences this time around I suppose…
In both Games 10 and 11, Anand managed to exert pressure on him in the middlegame, but in both, he lost his composure at key moments and either bailed out to a draw (in Game 10) or played some coffeehouse style moves (in Game 11) to cut through some of the tension.
In Game 10, Carlsen played into a pretty theoretical Grunfeld line (and again, my friend Dan Malkiel somehow called this opening choice … although it certainly doesn’t seem and didn’t look like the right choice to me!) and was put under some pressure after the initial opening moves.
In the following position, it’s pretty clear what each side’s pluses and minuses are:
For White, he’s got the d6-pawn and the bishop pair. For Black, he’s got the queenside majority and a nice bishop on d4.
On the downside for White, his rooks don’t have any obvious way into the position (besides the e-file). And for Black, he’s got two pieces that are way out of play with his …Na6 and …Ra8.
So Magnus started with 23…Nb4 (if 23…Re8, both 24.a3 Nb8 25.Rb1 playing to dominate the knight, or 24.Rfe1 — that e-file! — are clearly better for White). But instead of playing to improve his pieces, Anand chose the passive 24.Rd2, ceding the e-file immediately to Black. After 24…Re8, Magnus said he knew he was out of trouble. But instead after 24.a3 Nc6 25.Rfe1, Black still has real challenges to overcome (and possibly 24.Rfe1 is good too).
“The game of chess, is like a swordfight
You must think first, before you move”
I first heard this line from the Wu-Tang Clan’s song “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’,” a seminal rap group that has two members (RZA and GZA) who are chess fans. (The original kung-fu film that opening line sample is taken from is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uPAfsrXpp8)
I was briefly reminded of this when playing through one of the games from the ongoing US Junior Championship in Saint Louis. In the second round, Kayden Troff had the white pieces against IM Daniel Naroditsky, and the game started out as a King’s Indian: 1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 Nf6 5.f4.
I’m no expert on this line – I don’t play the KID as black, and I don’t play the 4 Pawns Attack as White – but Black’s next move was definitely new to me. Naroditsky played 5…Bg4!?, and it looks pretty interesting.
I have seen the 4 Pawns Attack transpose to a Benoni-like position before with 5…0-0 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5. There, Black often plays …Bg4 (and later exchanges on f3), as the light-squared bishop is a typical problem piece in the Benoni, while the removal of the Nf3 makes it harder for White to play for e4-e5 later on.
So maybe 6.Nf3 would only lead to something like that, but I think Black might also have a different idea. After 6.Nf3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 Nc6, there are some issues with the d4-pawn. After 8.Nge2 e5, maybe Black is on his way to equalizing. I’m not totally sure, though. Anyways, Troff could’ve used that Wu-Tang warning to think first.