21 Nov 2016

Carlsen-Karjakin Game-1: Surprising Trompowsky

One journalist asked Magnus Carlsen in the first official press conference who is the best chess player in the world. Magnus smiled and, of course, replied that he is! Now it is time for him to prove it in practice. Carlsen and Karjakin are writing their Chess History. They will fight in a 12-game match in which only one player could be the winner.
Magnus Carlsen Press conferenceBefore going to the game, I’d like to let you know that we will provide text analysis of every game of the World Championship and we will create some videos for the most exciting ones. I’d also like to remind you that you can watch LIVE the games of the World Championship here.

I hope you all would enjoy the games and the fight between these two amazing chess players in the world.

Magnus Carlsen – Sergey Karjakin [A45]
World Chess Championship New York NY USA (1), 11.11.2016

In the first game, Magnus had the White pieces and Sergey had Black. The big surprise came very early in the game, to be more precise, on the second move!

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5
Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin Game-1
Black to play

First things first, Magnus usually tries to avoid the long theoretical discussions. He is not playing the most critical lines, but he prefers the not-forcing openings. He chooses the Trompovsky defense (1.d4-Nf6, 2.Bg5). We can see this opening system rarely in the top grandmaster level games.

If I’m not mistaken, we had seen this opening only once in the World Championship Match, (Anand – Karpov / FIDE-Wch k.o. 1998). Actually, Anand won this game with the White pieces. Thus, Carlsen’s intention was to surprise his Russian opponent and destroy his opening preparation.

2…d5 3.e3 c5 4.Bxf6 gxf6 5.dxc5 Nc6 6.Bb5 e6 7.c4 dxc4 8.Nd2 Bxc5 9.Ngf3 0–0 10.0–0 Na5 11.Rc1 Be7 12.Qc2
Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin Game-1
Black to play

In this position, Black can play many moves, like Qb6 or Qc7 or even a6. Karjakin’s first priority was to develop his undeveloped army.

It seems that Black has an extra pawn and the pair of bishops, but White has very active pieces and he is threatening to play Rfd1. Black pieces feel cramped and Karjakin understands this very well. Thus, we can say that White has compensation for the sacrificed pawn and Black is in hurry to neutralize White pieces’ activity.

12…Bd7 13.Bxd7 Qxd7 14.Qc3 Qd5 15.Nxc4 Nxc4 16.Qxc4 Qxc4 17.Rxc4 Rfc8 18.Rfc1 Rxc4 19.Rxc4 Rd8 20.g3
Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin Game-1
Black to play

After the forcing exchanges in the c4, White manages to take back the pawn. Black has a better combination of pieces, because the rook can cooperate better with the bishop.

By the way, this was Fischer’s favorite endgame. Fischer loves to play with his rook and bishop against rook and knight. Indeed, Black’s pieces have a lot of potential, but the Black’s pawn structure in the kingside is ruined. The h7 pawn is isolated and weak.

On the other hand, White’s best scenario is to exchange all pieces and put the King on h6. This could be problematic for Black but White has no forcing way to achieve it and Black will not cooperate with White’s plans :)

Last but not least, if White manages to place the Rook on the 7th rank, then Black will have serious problems. Black used the tactical motive “mate in the back rank” so they were in time to place his Rook on the 7th rank.

You may understand that a game of chess has a lot of minor details. Top grandmasters can understand the positions very well and for that reason, their games are close to perfection, aren’t they? :)

20…Rd7 21.Kf1 f5 22.Ke2 Bf6 23.b3 Kf8 24.h3 h6 25.Ne1 Ke7 26.Nd3 Kd8 27.f4 h5 28.a4 Rd5 29.Nc5 b6 30.Na6 Be7 31.Nb8 a5 32.Nc6+ Ke8 33.Ne5 Bc5 34.Rc3 Ke7
Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Karjakin Game-1
White to play

Black achieved a fortress by blocking the queenside and there is no real chance for White to continue pressing the game. Thus, Magnus decided to exchange the Rooks. After this exchange, White cannot press anymore and there are no more active ideas for White or Black. The game ended as a draw afterwards.

35.Rd3 Rxd3 36.Kxd3 f6 37.Nc6+ Kd6 38.Nd4 Kd5 39.Nb5 Kc6 40.Nd4+ Kd6 41.Nb5+ Kd7 42.Nd4 Kd6 ½–½

You can download the PGN of the game here.

P.S. Do you think that Magnus opening choice of Tr”u”mpowsky in Game-1 had any ‘connections’ with President-elect Donald Trump? What are your thoughts about that? :)


We’ve revealed the SECRET of really strong players: learn the MOST important strategic and positional rules that enable them to demolish the opposition from “GM’s Positional Understanding

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