[Event "World Championship Match"] [Site "https://lichess.org/study/GnRCQlP4/bBxS308X"] [Date "2021.12.03"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2855"] [BlackElo "2782"] [Annotator "Abasov"] [Variant "Standard"] [ECO "D02"] [Opening "Queen's Pawn Game: Symmetrical Variation, Pseudo-Catalan"] [Source "https://lichess.org/study/RoBvWqfx/0IsLRqJa"] [Orientation "white"] 1. d4 { No 1.e4 today. Magnus wasn't impressed by his play against the Petroff Defense and decides to return to 1.d4. } 1... Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3!? { Catalan without c4 being played? What is this? Is it even a challenging line? Frankly speaking, it is not. But as Peter Heine Nielsen (the loyal member of Team Carlsen) said, what they don't dare getting opening-edge with White. Their goal is simply to avoid well-trodden lines and get into a fresh area where Magnus could try proving why he is a number one player in the world. } (6. c4 dxc4 7. Qc2 b5 { is what happened in game 2. }) 6... c5 { Of course! Black doesn't miss the momentum to challenge the center! } 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. c4 { you don't see often a position that been played only couple of times by move 8. } (8. Bb2 { is a more natural follow up. }) 8... dxc4 9. Qc2 $146 { and here comes the novelty! } (9. bxc4 { was played in that single in the same year I was born - 1995! } 9... Nc6 { looks totally comfortable for Black. }) 9... Qe7 10. Nbd2 { another game Magnus is willing to sac a pawn in the opening! } 10... Nc6 { this time Nepo is not interested in having 'extra' pawn! I guess it was the right call! } (10... cxb3 { was however totally legit! } 11. Nxb3 Bd6 (11... Bb4) 12. Nfd2 { bringing Knight to -c4 } 12... Nc6 13. Nc4 $132 { White looks to have enough compensation for sacrificed pawn and Black has some difficulties with the development. }) 11. Nxc4 b5!? { Ian meets Carlsen's novelty with enthusiasm! } 12. Nce5 Nb4 (12... Bb7 { is no good due to simple tactical nuance } 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. b4! { now Black is in trouble } 14... Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Bd4 (15... Bxb4 16. Bxa8 Rxa8 17. Qc6 $18) 16. Bxa8 Bxa1 17. Bf3 Qxb4 18. Bd2 Qd4 19. Rb1 $18 { White eventually will return the pawn and yet remain with Bishop pair in an open position, whilst all Black pieces being disharmonized. }) 13. Qb2 Bb7 { Despite the fact Ian got surprised in this game, he handled the position well and now Black seems to have even easier play! } 14. a3 Nc6 15. Nd3 { typical for Catalan - Knight rethreat. In fact, more often we see the f3-Knight getting to to -e5 and then to -d3. } (15. Bg5 Nxe5 16. Qxe5) 15... Bb6 16. Bg5 Rfd8 17. Bxf6 (17. Rac1 Nd4 { looked good for Black }) 17... gxf6 { Interesting and ambitious decision! Seems like Nepo tries to play for something more than equality! } (17... Qxf6 { is what I was expecting from the challenger, trading off the Queens and play pleasant endgame with the Bishop pair. } 18. Qxf6 gxf6 19. Rfc1 Rac8 { looks totally comfortable for Black }) 18. Rac1 Nd4 (18... e5 { with the idea of forking the Knights with ...-e4 leaves f5-square weak. } 19. Nh4 $132) 19. Nxd4 Bxd4 20. Qa2 { the Queen is placed weird on -a2. Yet defending the a3-pawn is a temporary task as White is planning to play either b4 or a4 with the next move and later bring back the Queen into the game. } 20... Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Qb7+ 22. Kg1 Qe4 { Centralization! How to evaluate this position? From one side Black pieces look more active, on the hand White's totally safe and has better pawn structure. If White manages to coordinate pieces, they can fight for something more than a draw. At the moment I'd call it dynamical equality. } 23. Qc2 a5 24. Rfd1 Kg7 (24... f5!? { looks natural for Black, defending the Queen and extending the a1-h8 long diagonal for the Bishop. }) 25. Rd2 { Position seems to be dull and empty. As often it happens in chess, engines shows trimple zeros. However, spent 33 (!) minutes by Magnus on his last 2 moves (24.Rfd1 and 25.Rd2) tells us how, in fact, the position is complex. These moves may seem slow, but they are often very deep. With these two moves Magnus defends his e2-pawn and is ready to trade the Queen on two Rooks in case of ...-Rc8 } 25... Rac8 { And that's what we see on the board. I'm a bit surprised with Ian's decision, I should tell. Not that it's a bad move, no. In point of fact engines like and approve this continuation, however, it felt like there was no reason for Black to enter unbalanced position, whilst the solid play could maintain the equality. } (25... f5 { again looked good } 26. Qd1 Rdc8) 26. Qxc8 Rxc8 27. Rxc8 Qd5 { challenging White's queenside pawns. } 28. b4 a4 { now a3-pawn is Black's potential target } 29. e3 Be5 (29... Bb2 { immediately looked the easiest for Black } 30. Rc5 { is only move for White to keep the balance in the position. } 30... Qd6 31. Rxb2 Qxd3 32. Rbc2 { yet another only move! } 32... Qxa3 33. Rxb5 Qa1+ 34. Kg2 Qb1 { freeing the road for the a-pawn whilst attacking c2-Rook and eyeing e4-square. } 35. Rc4 a3 { looked like an easy draw for Black } 36. Ra5 a2 37. Rg4+ Kf8 38. Ra8+ Ke7 39. Ra7+ Kf8 { only but enough for a draw move. } (39... Kd6?? { loses due to } 40. Rd4+ Kc6 41. b5+! { an important nuance } 41... Kxb5 42. Rda4 $18 { and White manages to hold the a-pawn. Black King is way too far from its kingside pawns. White's winning. }) 40. Ra8+ Ke7 { and another game in the match could have ended by three-fold repetition. }) 30. h4! { in post-game commentry Magnus said he won this blockbuster mostly because he was more patient in the game. This is one of the moments where we can see how patiently and masterfully handles extremely complicated position. White does not rush anywhere, yet slightly improves his position. } 30... h5 { is again a move that is approved by the engines, however, for a human eye -h5 looks a bit "weakening". With other words, inclusion of h4-h5 in a long run is a concession for Ian. The pawn on -h5 now (and seems like forever) is fixed on a light square. It cannot be defended by the Bishop anymore. } 31. Kh2 { another slow, prophylactic move, shows Magnus' titanic patience! } 31... Bb2?? { Black finally does this move, but at the very wrong moment! } 32. Rc5 Qd6 (32... Qd7 { leads to a Bishop trap } 33. Rcc2! Bxa3 34. Ra2 e5 { last try } 35. e4! (35. Rxa3 { does not win due to } 35... e4) 35... Qc6 36. Rxa3 Qxe4 37. Raa2 $18) 33. Rd1 { was played instantly, meanwhile 33.Rc2 was very strong! But try figuring out without assistance of the engine! } (33. Rxb2 Qxd3 34. Rbc2 Qxa3 35. Rxb5) (33. Rcc2! Bxa3 34. Nf4 Qxb4 (34... Qf8 35. Rc7 Kg8 36. Rdc2 Qxb4 37. Rc8+ Kg7 38. Nxh5+ Kg6 39. Nf4+ Kg7 40. R2c7 Qe4 41. Rd8) 35. Rd7! { was out of Magnus' radar, is what he admitted in the press conference after the game. White creates a powerful attack on Black's King. Black needs to find a way how to defend from Nxe6 or Rcc7, attacking the f7-pawn. } 35... Qb3 { is the only logical way to do so } 36. Rcc7 e5 37. Nxh5+ Kg6 38. Rc6! { beautiful motif. } 38... Kxh5 39. Rxf6 $18 { Black King is in a mating net! Rdxf7 or Rd8 followed by bringing the Rook onto the h-file with the final touch f3 is one of the main threats of White. }) 33... Bxa3 34. Rxb5 Qd7 { is what Magnus overlooked! He believed he manages to hold the b4-pawn, but now he is fated to lose it! } 35. Rc5 (35. Rxh5?? { is in fact a losing move as Rook gets trapped! } 35... Bxb4 { and Black wins. } 36. Nb2 Qc6 $18 { wins easily } (36... Qxd1 { could be a fun but totally unnecessary line where } 37. Nxd1 a3 { White has two tempi to stop the a-pawn from promoting, but they are unable to do it. Yet, they are not lost and saving the game with. } 38. Rb5 a2 39. Rxb4 a1=Q 40. Rd4 { should be easily holdable. })) 35... e5!? { Yet Ian doesn't take the pawn. He intends to win the game by playing ...-e4 next! } (35... Bxb4 36. Rcc1 Ba5 37. Nf4 Qb5 { looked decent for Black, but I bet Ian rejected playing it because of } 38. Rb1 Qf5 { and } 39. Rb7 { now White puts serious pressure along the 7th-rank. Especially in a time trouble situation it's extremely difficult to assess position correctly. Black would be totally fine after } 39... e5! 40. Nh3 Qe6 41. Ra7 Qb3) 36. Rc2 (36. e4 { gives Black an opportunity of playing } 36... Qd4 { this doesn't look practically great for White, despite the fact that engines say White is safe after } 37. Ra5 Qc4! 38. Rxa4 Qb3 39. Rxa3 Qxa3 40. b5 Qb3 { and b5-pawn falls. } 41. Rd2 Qxb5 { Can White hold this? I guess they have to. In this case Magnus would rather believe in fortresses! }) 36... Qd5 { This move amazes me! Black is not into capturing the b4-pawn! } (36... e4 37. Nb2 Qe6 38. Nc4 Bxb4 39. Ra1 Qd7 { looks like what happened in the game with one significant difference. Black's e4-pawn is yet alive! }) (36... Bxb4 { is although something I'd play without thinking! } 37. Rcc1 (37. Nb2 Qg4!) 37... Ba3! 38. Ra1 (38. Nxe5 Qf5 $19) 38... Qg4! { Black Queen gets out of the x-ray attack, keeps an eye on d1-Rook and yet defends a4-pawn. Next, Black is going to rethreat the Bishop and play ...-a3 } 39. Rd2 Bf8 $17 { this doesn't look for for White! }) 37. Rdd2 (37. Rcd2 { was an alternative }) 37... Qb3 38. Ra2 e4? { Someone complained about 'too-accurate' chess after game 3, huh? Here we got the blunderfest! After this inaccuracy, White is totally winning. Accoding to engine. } (38... Bxb4 39. Rdb2 Qxd3 40. Rxb4 a3 41. Ra4 f5 42. R4xa3 Qf1 { seems to be drawish as Black keeps an eye on -f2 pawn and one of the Rooks of White should always be defending the pawn. }) (38... f5 { was best according to engine } 39. Nc5 Qxb4 40. Nxa4 Qb3 { followed by ...-f4 and crushing White King's shield. }) 39. Nc5 Qxb4 40. Nxe4? { sad for Magnus, but he misses the winning opportunity on critical, control move! Some say move 40 tends to be the most error happening move. Leko once told, it's in fact move 41. The reason is, a player is maximally concentrated and gives his all until gaining additional move. Then, after 40-move control has passed and extra time been added on the clock, players usually relax and sometimes way too much and lose the concentration. } (40. Rdc2! { was nearly winning on the spot! } 40... f5 41. Nxa4 Qxa4 (41... Qb3 42. Nc3 $18 { Knight is getting to -e2 and next hopefully -f4 or -d4. }) 42. Rc3 $18 { after the Bishop is taken, White will group the Rooks either on the fifth or seventh rank, after what f5 or f7 pawn falls. }) 40... Qb3 { Control move was made by Ian too! What has just happened! We just witnessed Big Big Drama! Despite numerous errors from both sides, position has again stabilized! Now another phase in the game is starting. The question is, will Magnus be able to attack Black's weak pawns, or the -a passed pawn is way too strong? } 41. Rac2 { prepares Nc5 with the next move, from where it most probably is being redeployed to f4. } 41... Bf8 42. Nc5 Qb5 (42... Bxc5?? { cannot be played } 43. Rxc5 a3 44. Rc1 $18 { followed by Ra1; Rda2 and winning the a-pawn. }) 43. Nd3 a3 44. Nf4 { yes, Magnus does bring the Knight on f4. Still position shouldn't be bad for Black. } 44... Qa5 45. Ra2 Bb4 46. Rd3 (46. Rd5 { might win a pawn but worsen White's chances. } 46... Qa6 47. Nxh5+?! Kh6 48. Nf4 Qc4 { now White's pieces are discoordinated. } 49. Ra1 Qc3 50. Rdd1 Qc2 51. Nd3 Bf8 $36 { followed by ..-a2 }) 46... Kh6 { King comes to a defense of the h5-pawn so now the Queen is free to move around. } 47. Rd1 Qa4 48. Rda1 Bd6 49. Kg1 Qb3 50. Ne2 { Magnus decides his Knight has no longer any potential on -f4 and brings it to -d4 and perhaps later c2-a3? } 50... Qd3 51. Nd4 Kh7 { in order not to get any unpleasant forks from f5. } 52. Kh2 Qe4 { another controversial decision by Ian. Perhaps another moment where we see Magnus' patience and endurance were superior today. } (52... Kg6 { A waiting move is what I'd consider doing. The critical thing is, there's yet no direct plan for White how to improve the position! } 53. Nc2 { might look annoying as White's got already three (!) attacks on a3-pawn, but Black has got } 53... Be5! { now } 54. Nd4 { is best what White has got. } (54. Nxa3 { with the try of getting Rook+Knight+pawn against the Queen, in fact might cost White the game. } 54... Qb3! { and White's paralyzed. Next, ...-Bxa1, Rxa1-Qb2 is the idea. })) 53. Rxa3! { Now White gets some hopes! } 53... Qxh4+ (53... Bxa3 54. Rxa3 { should be easy win for White as all Black pawns are vulnerable and White has many }) 54. Kg1 Qe4 (54... Bxg3? 55. fxg3 Qxg3+ 56. Kf1 $18 { and it seems like Black has no eternal checks }) (54... Qh3 55. Ra7 (55. Ra4!? { would be quite a try } 55... h4 56. Nf3 Bxg3! 57. Rf1! { now White threatens to capture the BIshop, since f3-Knight is defended already } 57... Qd7! 58. Rd4 Bd6! 59. Rxh4+ Kg7 { After numerous 'only moves', many pawns been removed from the board. I believe Black should be able holding this endgame rather easily. }) 55... h4 56. Rxf7+ Kg8! 57. Raa7 hxg3 58. Rg7+ Kh8 59. Rh7+ Qxh7 60. Rxh7+ Kxh7 61. f4 Kg6 62. Kg2 f5 { leads to a drawish endgame. }) 55. Ra4! { Only move for fighting for some edge. With such little annoying moves, Magnus puts serious pressure on his opponents! Usual Magnus stuff! } 55... Be5 (55... Bxg3 56. Ne2 $18) 56. Ne2 Qc2 57. R1a2 Qb3 58. Kg2 Qd5+ 59. f3 { With last moves White was trying to stabilyze and improve King's safety. Objectively such positions (with perfect play) should end in a draw, however, the problem with Black's position is, they have no much of counterplay. Usually, in such positions White's strategy is to keep the tension and simply potter around. The longer game is, the more Black's chances of going wrong are! } 59... Qd1 60. f4 Bc7 61. Kf2 Bb6 62. Ra1 Qb3 { Black tries putting as much pressure as possible. White has to defend -e3 pawn now. } 63. Re4 { That's what they do } 63... Kg7 64. Re8 { Now White's plan is to play Raa8 and create mating threats! } 64... f5 { Ian opens an air for the King } 65. Raa8 Qb4 66. Rac8 { Again, despite the fact that engines show triple zeros, it's extremely hard to come up with some active plan for Black. Cause, it simply does not exist. Black should instead be in a waiting mode and parry all White's little ideas. That's one of the most difficult things to do in chess. Especially for ambitious Ian. } 66... Ba5 { Black tries to get the Queen on e1 } 67. Rc1 { Prevented. } 67... Bb6 68. Re5 { now -f5 is being attacked. } 68... Qb3 { -f5 is defended by attacking the -e3 pawn. } 69. Re8 { Rook return to the place where it came from. Magnus repeats position (had Black played 69...-Qb4). Not because he accepts the draw. It's done to extend the game and tire the opponent. } 69... Qd5 70. Rcc8 Qh1 71. Rc1 Qd5 (71... Qh2+ 72. Kf3 h4 { trying to weaken White's King } 73. gxh4 $18 { only weakens Black's! Knight on -g3 will be defending White and attacking Black's King! } { [%cal Ge2g3] }) 72. Rb1 { as we can see, position hasn't been changed for at least last ten moves. In such cases defender often gets the illusion that he holds the position any way. This illusion may sometimes be misleading. With the next move Ian does small inaccuracy after what Magnus gets a chance to transform the position into R+N+2p vs Q, where he will have better chances } 72... Ba7 (72... Bc7 { was keeping position as it is. }) 73. Re7 Bc5 74. Re5 Qd3 75. Rb7 { now White Rooks found ideal setup. How to defend the Bishop? } 75... Qc2 (75... Bd6 76. Rd7 $18) 76. Rb5 { seems like Black is totally lost now. But tactical nuance keeps them in the game } 76... Ba7 77. Ra5 Bb6 78. Rab5 Ba7 79. Rxf5 Qd3! { Both Rooks are loaded by defending each other. Any Rook coming to e5 in fact doesn't defend the e3-pawn. } 80. Rxf7+! (80. Rfe5 Bxe3+ 81. Rxe3 Qxb5) (80. Rbe5 Bxe3+ 81. Rxe3 Qxf5) 80... Kxf7 81. Rb7+ Kg6 82. Rxa7 { That's the position we were talking about in our comments to move 72. With the given material on the board Black should still be able to hold the position, however, some precision is already being required from them! } { That's the position we were talking about on move 72. With given material on the board Black should still be able to hold the endgame, however, some precision is already being required now! } 82... Qd5 83. Ra6+ { I remembered one more beautiful game with a similar material balance (R+N+p vs Q) by Carlsen. For those who are interested in studying more of such an unbalanced endgame, I'd recommend seeing Carlsen,M - Navara,D game from Biel, 2018. } 83... Kh7 84. Ra1 Kg6 85. Nd4 Qb7 86. Ra2 Qh1 87. Ra6+ Kf7 88. Nf3 Qb1 89. Rd6 Kg7 90. Rd5 Qa2+ 91. Rd2 Qb1 92. Re2 Qb6 93. Rc2 Qb1 94. Nd4 Qh1 95. Rc7+ Kf6 96. Rc6+ Kf7 97. Nf3 Qb1 98. Ng5+ Kg7 99. Ne6+ Kf7 100. Nd4 Qh1 { First 'Century' of the match! You don't see it in chess as often as in snooker! } 101. Rc7+ Kf6 102. Nf3 Qb1 103. Rd7 Qb2+ 104. Rd2 Qb1 105. Ng1 Qb4 106. Rd1 Qb3 107. Rd6+ Kg7 108. Rd4 Qb2+ 109. Ne2 Qb1 110. e4 { with last nearly 40 moves Magnus did nothing much on the board but exhaust his opponent. Ian most probably has to defend for another 50 moves, until Magnus advanced the pawn again. } 110... Qh1 111. Rd7+ Kg8 112. Rd4 Qh2+ 113. Ke3 h4 { Ian takes some actions first. By trading off his last pawn he wants to open up the position of the White King, so he can check it from the flanks as well. } 114. gxh4 Qh3+ 115. Kd2 Qxh4 116. Rd3 Kf8 117. Rf3 Qd8+ 118. Ke3 Qa5 119. Kf2 Qa7+ 120. Re3 Qd7 121. Ng3 { Knight stands great on g3. It defends the -e4 pawn and guards the King from checks } 121... Qd2+ 122. Kf3 Qd1+ 123. Re2 Qb3+ 124. Kg2 Qb7 125. Rd2 Qb3 126. Rd5 { The Rook is activated. Seems like White managed to improve the position significantly. Yet, this position is a draw, according to endgame databases. } 126... Ke7 127. Re5+ Kf7 128. Rf5+ Ke8 129. e5 { As it's said in a well known quote: 'Once your all pieces stand well, push your passed pawn!" } 129... Qa2+ 130. Kh3 Qe6? { RIght it's past midnight in Dubai, after 7 hours and 35 minutes of battling, Nepo makes a crutial mistake! Now, according to Lomonosov's 7-piece endgame tablebase White's winning. } (130... Qb1 { was one of the two moves that keeps Black in the game. Idea is to get the Queen to -d1. } 131. Rf6 Qd1 132. Kh4 (132. Rd6 Qf3! { and Black is safe }) 132... Qe1! { again strictly the only move! } 133. Kg4 Qg1 { and Black is safe. But it's unhuman way of defending! }) (130... Qc2 { with the same idea }) 131. Kh4 Qh6+ 132. Nh5 Qh7 { problem with this move is that it's not even threatening anything! } 133. e6! { the most precise } 133... Qg6 (133... Qxf5 { loses to elementary } 134. Ng7+ $18) (133... Qe7+ 134. Kg4 (134. Rf6?? Qa7) 134... Qb7 135. Rd5! { beautiful way of killing all Black's hopes }) (133... Qa7 134. Kg5 { only! } 134... Qg1+ 135. Kf6 { activity of the King decides the game! }) 134. Rf7 Kd8 (134... Qh6 { in one of the live broadcasts a very strong GM suggested } 135. Rh7? { it shows how tiring a chess game can be and how difficult it is to keep the concentration for the duration of 7-8 hours! It's never late to make a mistake and lose a game... } 135... Qxh7 { and there's no Nf6 fork due to the pin. Black wins! }) (134... Qxe6 135. Ng7+ Kxf7 136. Nxe6 Kxe6 137. Kg5 { leads to a winning pawn endgame } 137... Kf7 138. Kf5! $18 { Last touch! Opposition! }) 135. f5 Qg1 136. Ng7! { What a beautiful technique! Carlsen creates an escape square on -g8 for the King... And it's a Touchdown! Black resigns. Astonishing game by both players! Today we witnessed a real big fight! Now Ian is down a point. Tomorrow he has White pieces, but there's very little time for him to recover after such a long, dramatic and yet disappointing game. Will he go all-in or yet keep solid? We will see tomorrow! The show only begins! } 1-0