Carlsen stretches record
LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2020 - 12:00am

Top-seeded Magnus Carlsen held off erstwhile leader Fabiano Caruana at the 8th Altibox Norway Tournament, winning in 51 moves, to take a one-point lead following fourth-round play in the city of  Stavanger.

In beating his American rival, Carlsen had increased his undefeated record to 125 classical games.

After four rounds, the Norwegian world champion had 9.0 points in the category 21 double-round robin event in which a win is scored 3.0 points and draws are decided by Armageddon playoff, where a win is worth 1.5 and loss 1.0.

Other scores on the table read Levon Aronian (ARM), 8.0, Caruana and Alireza Firouzja (FIDE), 7.0 each, Aryan Tari (NOR), 1.5 and Jan-Kryzstof Duda (POL), 1.0.

Round five is underway as we go to press, and can be followed live at the various chess websites.

* * *

This game is another fine example of Carlsen’s virtuosity in the endgame, squeezing out a win from a balanced Rook and Knight ending. A well executed and sparkling performance by the world champion.

Altibox Norway Chess 2020 round 04

W) M. Carlsen (NOR)

B) F. Caruana (USA)

Nimzo-Indian Defense

1. d4                      Nf6

2. c4                       e6

3. Nc3                    Bb4

The Nimzo-Indian Defense, named after Danish pioneer and leader Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935),

4. Qc2                    ....

The modest classical variation, in which White forces the exchange of Black’s b4 Bishop without having the drawback of a doubled c Pawn.

4....                        O-O

5. a3                       Bxc3ch

6. Qxc3                 d5

7. Bg5                    dxc4

8. Qxc4                  b6

9. Rd1                    Ba6

10. Qa4                 h6

11. Bh4                 Qd7

The usual 11....Qe7, played many times before, had a good reputation as a solid equalizing line for Black.

12. Qc2                 Qc6

12....Nc6 is considered best by the engine.

13. Qxc6               Nxc6

14. Bxf6                gxf6

15. e3                    Bxf1

16. Kxf1                Na5

17. Nf3                  Nc4

17....c5 is the engine’s choice, e.g., 18. dxc5 bxc5 19. Rc1 Rab8 20. Rc2 Nb3 21. Ke2 Rfc8 22. Rd1 c4 is fairly even.

18. Rb1                 c5

19. Ke2                 Rfc8

20. Rhc1               Nd6?!

Not a good idea as Black’s isolated Pawns will be disturbing.. Correct is 20....cxd4 which leads to equality after 21.Nxd4 Kf8 22. Rc2 Nd6 23. Rbc1 Rxc2ch  24. Rxc2 e5 25. Nf3 Ke7, etc.

21. dxc5                bxc5

22. Rc2                  Kf8

23. Nd2                 c4

24. Rbc1               Rab8

25. Kf3                  c3

After 25....Rc5 26. b4 Rc6 27. Nb3 Rbc8 28. Na5, White has strong pressure.

26. bxc3                Rc5

27. c4                     f5

28. Ke2                 Ke7

29. Kd3                 Kd7

29....Kf6 is best, according to the engine.

30. Rc3                  Rc6?

A costly mistake which allows White to obtain a dangerous initiative,. Better is  30....Ke8, with chances.to hold.

31. c5!                   Ne8

32. Nf3                  Ra6

33. Ne5ch            Ke7

34. Ke2                 Nf6

35. R1c2                Nd5

36. Rd3                 Rc8

37. Rb3                 Rc7

38. Rc4                  Ra5

39. Nd3                 e5?

This only facilitate white’s task. But after 39....h5 40. a4 Ra6 41. f3 Kf6 42. e4 fxe4 43. fxe4 Ne7 44. e5ch Ke7 45. Rb8ch, White clearly enjoys maximum prospects.

40. Nxe5              Raxc5

41. Rxc5                Rxc5

42. Rb7ch             Ke6

43. Nxf7               ....

White picks up two pawns, and should win without much fuss. It is time for Black to bring down the curtains.

43....                      Ra5

44. Nd8ch            Kd6

45. Rb3                 Ra6

46. Nf7ch             Kc5

47. Ne5                 h5

48. Kd2                 h4

49. Nd3ch            Kc4

50. Kc2                  Rd6

51. Nf4                  1-0

Solution to last week’s puzzle:

White to move and draw

White=Kh1, Ra6, Bb3, Ph2

Black=Kg5, Rf3, Bb5, Pf4

1. h4ch                  ....

1. Ra3? Kh4 and Black wins.

1....        Kxh4

2. Rh6ch               Kg5

3. Rh5ch!             Kxh5

4. Bd1                    Kg4

5. Kg2                    Bf1ch

6. Kh2                    draw

If 6....Bh3 7. Be2 Bf1 8. Bd1 Bc4 9. Kg2 Bd5 10. Be2 Bc6 11. Bd1, etc.

* * *

MAGNUS CARLSEN
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