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GM Mamedyarov - GM Carlsen annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 7
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 07 May 2014
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary
Best FIDE rating: 2672

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The players arrived in different moods to this game. Carlsen had just unexpectedly lost two games in a row, while after a bad start Mamedyarov won a nice game against Caruana...

View the game or check out the "text + diagrams" version below.

Image from the official site

Mamedyarov,S (2760) - Carlsen,M (2881) [E34]
Vugar Gashimov Mem 2014 Shamkir AZE (6.2), 26.04.2014
[Balogh Csaba]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 The Qc2 system of the Nimzowitsch is the pet line of Mamedyarov.
4...d5 5.Nf3
Trying to surprise Black by driving the game to a less explored territory at a very early stage of the game. The two big main lines are 5.cxd5 and 5.a3 and Mamedyarov has employed both of them before.
5...dxc4 Carlsen accepts the sacrifice and shows that he is ready for a sharp game. Black wins a pawn and he is able to protect it with b5, but White gets a very strong center and aims to create compensation with active play.
6.Bg5 [6.e4 is also met by 6...b5 7.a4 c6 saving the extra pawn.]
6...b5 7.a4 c6

8.g3 Logical devel opment of the pieces. The black pawn chain on c4b5c6 is safe at the moment. It is clear that White cannot increase the pressure on the c4b5 pawns, therefore he fianchettoes his bishop to attack the backward c6 pawn with some Ne5 ideas. [It is important to mention that 8.Bxf6 should be recaptured by 8...gxf6 with the idea to have 9.axb5 cxb5 10.Qe4 Qd5! We can be familiar with this motif from many different openings.]
8...Bb7 9.Bg2 Nbd7
With his last two prophylactic moves, Black has prevented Ne5 and neutralized the direct threats on the long diagonal, connected with the pin on g2a8 after axb5 cxb5. These were more urgent than castling...
10.00 Qb6!
After White has castled, he left the pin of the bishop and he was threatening to take on b5. Carlsen must keep his extra pawn at any cost, otherwise White gets a pleasant edge. [10...a6 is not as good in view of 11.Ne5 and the knight cannot be taken. Additionally White has opened the long diagonal, therefore he is threatening again with axb5 axb5Nxb5!]
White changes the plan and tries to compensate with his strong center, but I believe it is a wrong idea. [I liked 11.Ne5! much more, with the following ideas: 11...Nxe5 12.Bxf6! (12.dxe5 Nd5 is fine for Black with the extra pawn. He keeps his healthy structure on the kingside and he is ready to play h6 followed by 00.) 12...gxf6 (12...Nf3+!? is interesting to avoid change of the pawn structure. 13.Bxf3 gxf6 Black is a pawn up, but his king is exposed. It will never be safe even after castling. White might search for compensation with Ne4.) 13.dxe5 f5 (13...fxe5 is a bit risky. The king gets too exposed and White can effectively use the e4 square with his pieces. 14.Qe4 with a strong initiative. There is the double threat of Qxe5 and axb5 as well.) 14.Rfd1 followed by e4, trying to make use of the d6f6 holes. The bishop on b7 is poor.]
11...a6! Knowing the next two moves, everything becomes clear. Black strengthens his b5 pawn with the c5 idea in mind. [11...00 was still premature in view of 12.Bxf6! Nxf6 13.e5 Nd5 14.Ng5! and Black is forced make a huge weakening in front of his king: 14...g6 and the hole on f6 or ideas like Qe4h4 might be very dangerous.]

The last preparation before castling. Carlsen takes the g5 square under control to avoid the idea we had seen in the 11...00 line.
[13.Bxf6 It makes no sense to give the bishop now, because White cannot create any serious threat. 13...Nxf6 14.e5 Nd5 15.Ne4 00 followed by Be7 and c5 with a healthy extra pawn. Ng5 never works.]
Things have developed perfectly from Black's point of view. He managed to preserve his extra pawn. White cannot create any concrete threats, he might only hope for some positional compensation.
14.d5 c5
Creating a passed pawn with d6 would cost the important e4 pawn after Bxc3, while after 15.dxe6 Qxe6 White has no compensation at all. [14...Bc5 15.dxe6 fxe6 was also better for Black, but Carlsen wanted to open the diagonal of his b7 bishop.]
15.a5! A creative move. Mamedyarov tries to deflect the queen from the e6 square to at least create some weaknesses in Black's camp after exchanging the pawn formation dxe6 fxe6. It also has the drawback that there is no pressure anymore on the b5 pawn and also the a5 pawn becomes a weakness, but from a positional point of view Black was already winning, therefore Mamedyarov correctly tries his best chance to create some complications on the kingside...
[15...Bxa5 would have been a mistake. 16.dxe6 The queen cannot recapture now, while after 16...fxe6 17.e5! Nd5 18.Bxh6! suddenly White is fine due to the Qg6 idea.]
16.dxe6 fxe6
The bishop on b7 starts to work as well, but at least White has succeeded in weakening the kingside a bit.
Protecting the e4 pawn and heading to g6. [There was a very nice an important line if had White tried 17.e5 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Nd5 19.Bxh6

The same as in the 15...Bxa5 line, but probably both players had seen that Black wins after 19...Rxf3!! 20.Bxf3 (20.Qg6 Rf7 21.Bxg7 looks tempting because White takes on e6 and d5, but Black has the nice refutation 21...Nf4!! opening the g-file. 22.gxf4 Rxg7 23.Qxe6+ Kh8 24.Qh3+ Rh7+ wins.) 20...Nxe5 Black attacks the f3 bishop with tempo and also covers the g6 square, therefore the h6 bishop is also hanging. 21.Bxd5 (21.Qe4 Nxf3+ 22.Qxf3 gxh6+; 21.Bg2 gxh6+) 21...Bxd5 Suddenly the white king gets into trouble on the light squares.]
17...Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qe8!
Simple and strong. Black controls the g6 square and prepares to bring his a8 rook into the game. He has also created the direct threat of playing g5! and the knight has only one place to retreat, but Nf3 drops the e4 pawn...
19.f4 Rd8 20.h3
White was annoyed by the Ng4 move, when the bishop has no good square to leave.

Very nice regrouping of the pieces. Black stands a bit passively, therefore he wants to initiate the trade of some pieces. The knight had no good square to leave from d7, but now it is ready to jump to f8, overtaking the queen's task to control the g6 square and the other rook is ready to occupy the d-file as well.
[21.g4 was an active option, with the idea that if Black plays like in the game 21...e5! then the d6 square is still free and White might occupy it with the knight. However after 22.Nf5 Black gets a big advantage after

22...exf4! 23.Nd6 fxe3! 24.Nxe8 Rxe8 Black is going to win the e4 pawn as well and he gets two knights and three pawns against the queen, but the quality of his pieces is more important. 25.Re1 Bxe4 26.Bxe4 Rxe4 followed by Ne5d3, with a probably winning advantage!]
Fixing the weakness on e4! White is forced to lock the position, otherwise he even loses that pawn.

22...Nf8! Excellent technique! Black transforms his material advantage into a huge positional edge!
23.Bxc5 Rxd6 24.Bxd6 Rd7 25.Bxf8
Sad, but there was nothing better. White ends up with his poor bishop on g2, a very weak e4 pawn and the big hole on d3. [25.Bc5 Rd3+ also wins for Black.; 25.Rd1 Qd8+]
25...Qxf8 26.Rd1
Otherwise Black would have played Rd3.
26...Qc5+ 27.Kh2
[27.Kh1 loses to 27...Qe3! (27...Bxe4? did not work here because of 28.Bxe4 Rxd1+ 29.Qxd1 Nxe4 30.Qd8+ Kh7 31.Ng6+ and suddenly White wins.) 28.Rxd7 Nxd7+ and the e4 pawn falls soon.]
27...Bxe4! [Pretty little combo at the end. White resigned in view of 27...Bxe4 28.Bxe4 Rxd1 29.Qxd1 Nxe4+ and the Qd8, Ng6 idea does not work because of Qf2 and Black mates first. Otherwise he is a pawn down and more material will be lost soon.]  


More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution "Top GM Secrets" bulletin. 25 pages total.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 May 2014 )
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