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 F. Caruana - M. Carlsen; (rapid) 
 Zurich Chess Challenge, 2014. 

When I first saw this chess game, I knew that I had to annotate it.

F. Caruana has had one of the highest (on-line) ratings in the world, he is known to be nearly impossible to beat in rapid chess. This player has developed rapidly over the last 5 (or so) years, making him - in my mind, anyway - one of the world's top players ... (and) probably the biggest threat to GM Magnus Carlsen and possibly his next challenger.

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  GM F. Caruana (2781) - GM M. Carlsen (2872);  
 Rapid Event, Chess Challenge 
   Zürich, SUI /  (R#4) / 04,02,2014.  

car-car_z-2014_medal.gif, 06 KB

  [ A.J. Goldsby I ]  

I thought that I would briefly annotate this game ... 
(When a player as strong as Magnus Carlsen loses, one always wonders what went wrong and exactly what the losing move was.) 

     1.Nf3 Nf6;  2.g3 d5;  3.Bg2 c6;  4.0-0 Bf5;  5.d3 e6;   

Caruana - so far - has chosen a solid, (if a slightly inferior); opening,  ... ... ... 
obviously an attempt to get Carlsen away from his normal opening preparation. 

One even wonders if this was not a prepared line by White, according to the online video, he played his moves very quickly. 


Now White quickly strikes at the center. 

     6.c4! Nbd7!?;  7.cxd5! cxd5;  8.Be3!? Bc5;  9.Bxc5 Nxc5;  10.Nc3 0-0;  11.Qd2 h6;     

Take a look at this position.   


   r2q1rk1/pp3pp1/4pn1p/2np1b2/8/2NP1NP1/PP1QPPBP/R4RK1 w - - 0 12   


I would award Black a slight edge, as the second player has more space ... 


     12.Rfc1 Rc8;  13.b4 Ncd7;  14.a4 Qe7;  15.Nb5 a6;   16.Nbd4 Bg6;  17.Nb3 e5;    

Now - because he dominates the center, and has more space, it would seem that Black is slightly better. 


     18.Nh4 Bh7;  19.Bh3 d4;   20.Nf3 Rxc1+;  21.Rxc1 Nb6;  22.a5 Nbd5;  
     23.Rc5 Rd8;  24.Na1!?,     

This is a doubtful idea, it can never be a good idea to place a Knight in the corner. However, one of Caruana's strength's is knowing the difference between a slightly inferior position and a very bad one. (He also played all of his moves very quickly.) 

               [ >/=  (Better was:)  24.Bg2,  when White may have a slight disadvantage,   
                         but you need a microscope just to see it. ]   


Now Carlsen - probably already short of time - plays a bad move. 
(One has to guess that some sort of miscalculation - or oversight - was involved.) 

Instead of 24...e4?!; simply (say) 24...Bg6; leaves Black with a really easy game. 


     24...e4?!;  25.Nxd4 exd3;  26.exd3 Bxd3!?;     

This looks like a bad idea, simply 26...Re8; is preferred by Fritz 13.  


     27.Qxd3 Nxb4;   28.Qc3 Ne4;     

Take a look at this position ...    



   3r2k1/1p2qpp1/p6p/P1R5/1n1Nn3/2Q3PB/5P1P/N5K1 w - - 0 29   


Carlsen appears to be forking Caruana's Queen and Rook.   


     29.Nf5!,  (Zwischenzug.)   

This must have been the move that Magnus missed. 


               [ Probably Magnus had looked at:  </=  29.Qxb4 Qxc5;  30.Qxc5 Nxc5;   
                 31.Nab3 Nxb3;  32.Nxb3 Kf8;  33.Bg4,  "~"  (Unclear, close to equal?)    
                 thinking it was at least a draw for Black. ]    


     29...Qf8[];  (BOX - only move.)    

This looks forced.   


               [ Even worse was:  </= 29...Nxc3;  30.Nxe7+ Kf8;  31.Rxc3 Rd1+;  32.Bf1 Rxa1;  
                  33.Rc4 Kxe7;  34.Rxb4 Rxa5;  35.Rxb7+,  "+/-"  (Winning edge for White.)   
                  when White has an easy win. (Easy - for this level of player - at any rate.) ]    


     30.Qxb4 Nxc5;     

White now has two pieces for a Rook plus one Pawn. It's a nice edge for White to be sure, but the game is far from over.   



Now the two players jockey for position ... 
(Each player is just trying to slowly improve his game without making a mistake or creating another weakness.) 

     31.Nc2 Nd3;  32.Qc3 g6;  33.Nfd4 Nc5;  34.Bg2 Qd6;  35.h4 h5;  
     36.Qe3 Qf6;  37.Nf3 Qf5; 38.Nfd4!? Qf6;  39.Kh2 Kg7?;  (Bad idea.)      

This was another critical error, by simply playing his Queen to the d6-square, it does not appear that White has made significant progress. (One has to wonder how Magnus could have played such a lemon. I have to conclude that Black was simply short of valuable thinking time.)   


     40.Qc3! Nd7;    

Black is just trying to stay alive ...   


               [ Of course not:  </=  40...Qxf2??;  41.Ne6+ Kg8;  42.Qg7#. (Check-mate.) ]    


     41.f4 b5;  (hmmm)    

Originally I had thought that this move was a mistake, but Black did not have a lot of decent alternatives. 
(A lot of strong programs also choose this move for Black.)    



   3r4/3n1pk1/p4qp1/Pp5p/3N1P1P/2Q3P1/2N3BK/8 w - b6 0 42   


Now in a very bad position - and also short of time - Carlsen proves that he is human ... and plays two virtual blunders in a row. 
(42...Kg8[]; was probably the only hope for Black here.)   


     42.Nb4 Nb8??;  43.Nd5 b4??;  44.Nf5+!,  "+/-"   Black Resigns. 

Any move by the Black King simply drops the lady, and Pawn-takes-Knight is answered by simply QxQ+, 
when Black (also) cannot recapture. 

A nice win by GM Fabiano Caruana, who is one of the best fast/rapid players in the whole world. 


   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2014.  All rights reserved.   


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The analysis for this page was prepared with the excellent programChessBase 10.0. (I also have CB 11, but I do not care for it at all.) 
(I now have ChessBase 11.0; I also used MANY different chess engines!)  (I now have ChessBase 11.0; I also used MANY different chess engines!)   

    The HTML was polished with several different tools and programs, (mostly FP)  ...  the text was checked for spelling with MS Word. 

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  Copyright (c) LM A.J. Goldsby I  
   Copyright © A.J. Goldsby, 2015.  All rights reserved.  


This page was first generated in: February, 2014Final format and posted on: Thursday; February 6th, 2014.  
This game was last edited, altered or saved on:  February 12, 2015 01:05 PM