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Amateur Analysis – Carlsen vs. Aronian

Recently, Magnus Carlsen and some of the world’s top chess players competed in the No Logo Chess Competition. Some of the games were outright “sleepers”, but others have emerged as jewels of chess instruction and analysis. I decided to take a crack at one of the games and annotate it myself. I put Carlsen and Aronian’s Round 5 game through a 24-hour analysis in Fritz 14 before setting down and removing most of the recommended variations. This is my first annotated game, so go easy on me! Some of the key moments to look for are deep in the endgame (around move 70) in which Carlsen demonstrates his incredible chess expertise to reverse his fortune and crush his opponent.

[Event “2nd Norway Chess 2014”] [Site “Stavanger NOR”] [Date “2014.06.08”] [Round “5”] [White “Carlsen, M.”] [Black “Aronian, L.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “D38”] [WhiteElo “2881”] [BlackElo “2815”] [Annotator “Deep Fritz 14 x64 (60s)”] [PlyCount “185”] [EventDate “2014.06.03”] {D38: Queen’s Gambit Declined: Ragozin Defence (4 Nf3 Bb4)} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Nbd7 8. e3 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4 10. Nd2 Nxg3 11. fxg3 {I would have played 11. hxg3 to open up the h-file and allow the Rook to enter into play.} Nb6 12. Bd3 Qe7 13. Qf3 Be6 14. a3 Bxc3 15. bxc3 O-O-O 16. a4 Bd7 17. a5 Na4 18. a6 Rhe8 19. Kf2 {Fritz 14 recommends 19. Nc4, but I am not convinced that there is nothing keeping Aronian from playing 19…dxc4. This one must have been strictly Grandmaster intuition.} Kb8 20. Rhe1 Nxc3 21. axb7 Qb4 22. Kg1 Qb2 23. Nf1 f5 24. Ra5 Ba4 25. Rc5 (25. Qxf5 Rf8 {This was my first instinct after seeing Carlsen play 25. Rc5. I wondered if taking the Pawn on f5 would help to open the line and that the Queen would be defended by the Bishop on d3. However, Rf8 quickly forces the Queen to a safe zone with no significant gain for white.}) 25… Rf8 26. h3 Rf6 27. Nh2 Rdf8 { Carlsen’s position is cramped and any blunders here could spell DOOM for the World Champion.} 28. Qf1 Ne4 {Black threatens to win material: Ne4xc5} 29. Re2 Qa3 30. Bxe4 ({Why not 30.Qf3 to hold the Knight at bay? Something like this: } 30. Qf3 g4 31. hxg4 fxg4 32. Qxg4 Nxg3 33. Qxg3) 30… fxe4 31. Qe1 c6 32. Ra5 Qb3 33. Qa1 Qd1+ 34. Qxd1 Bxd1 35. Re1 Bh5 36. g4 Be8 37. Rea1 Rf2 38. Rxa7 Rb2 39. Nf1 Kc7 40. Ra8 Kxb7 41. R1a7+ Kb6 42. Re7 Rbf2 43. Rb8+ Ka6 44. Ng3 Bg6 45. Rxf8 Rxf8 46. Re6 Be8 47. Rxh6 Kb5 48. Rh7 Kc4 49. Ra7 Bg6 {This is where things get VERY interesting and the game takes on a significant instructional quality. Carlsen takes advantage of some key moments to turn the tides and regain control of the board.} 50. Ra6 Rf6 51. Ra3 Kb4 52. Ra1 Kc3 53. Rf1 Re6 54. Rf8 Kd2 55. Nf1+ Kd3 56. Kf2 Re7 57. Rg8 Re6 58. Ke1 Rf6 59. Rg7 Re6 60. Ra7 Re8 61. Ra3+ Kc2 62. Ra6 Rc8 63. Ke2 Be8 64. Ra5 Kc3 65. Ng3 Rb8 66. Rc5+ Kb2 67. Nh5 Bxh5 68. gxh5 Rh8 69. g4 Rh6 70. Kf2 Re6 71. Kg3 Rf6 72. h4 Rf3+ 73. Kg2 gxh4 74. h6 Rxe3 75. h7 h3+ 76. Kh2 Re2+ 77. Kxh3 Re1 { This was a key moment for me. Carlsen had the opportunity to play 78.Qh8, but did not. h8 remains at its outpost for the rest of the game.} 78. Kg2 Re2+ 79. Kg3 Re3+ 80. Kh4 Re1 81. Kg5 Rh1 82. Kg6 Rh4 83. Rxc6 e3 84. Re6 {Re6 places the Rook behind the passed pawn.} Rxg4+ 85. Kh5 Rg1 86. Rxe3 Rh1+ 87. Kg6 Rg1+ 88. Kf7 Rh1 89. Kg8 Rg1+ 90. Kh8 Rg4 91. Re5 Rxd4 92. Kg7 Rg4+ 93. Kh6 1-0