Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Carlsen-Leko 2009

Hot off the presses, a new game from the ongoing Pearl Spring tournament featuring Topalov, Radjabov, Jakovenko, Carlsen, Leko and Yue.  This is Carlsen's first appearance since his work with Kasparov has become public, and it was a good one...

The moves are available free online from, so I'll go very light on the pictures to save some time.  

1. e4 e5  2. Nf3 Nc6  3. d4!?  (Starting a Scotch Game, Kasparov's influence already?) exd4  4. Nxd4 Bc5  5. Be3 Qf6  6. c3 Nge7  7. Bc4 Ne5  (Mainline Scotch, White tries to prevent ...d5 and Black is trying to force it, thus Ne7)   8. Be2 Qg6
 (hits e4 and g2) 
 9. O-O d6
A very common position in which Black is already threatening ...Bh3.  So a typical move from white would be 10. f3, allowing defense of g2 along the second rank.  Carlsen, however, goes in for more dynamic play.

10. f4!? Qxe4     Carlsen goes in for an enterprising gambit, an interesting psychological choice given his opponent.  Leko is known for his incredible solidity and he was undoubtedly looking forward to a quiet game after 10. f3.  As he is unlikely to have prepared for 10. f4!? it must have been an unwelcome surprise, since the best move on the board is to accept the gambit with 10 ... Qxe4.  Otherwise White's pawn center would quickly dominate.  But now play takes on a different character, with White's pawn deficit being compensated by open lines and a lead in development, a classic imbalance.

11. Bf2  Bxd4  12. cxd4 N5g6  13. g3 O-O  14. Nc3 Qf5   White's light-squared weaknesses do not make a positive impression, yet his next move points out his trump, the weak nature of Black's Queenside.
15. d5 a6 (prevents Nb5) 16. Re1 Kh8  17. Rc1 Bd7  18. Bf3 Rac8  19. Qb3 b5?!  This seems overly committal...with b6 Black stays more compact and has better defensive opportunities.  Now a6 is also a target.

20. Ne2 Qh3?!  Looking for an attack when defense is more appropriate, Black has no claim to an advantage.
21. Nd4 Bg4  22. Bg2 Qh5  23. h4!? Sealing off the kingside in an unconventional way ...Ng8?
This is just a blunder, there was no time for this maneuvering.  Now the queenside is a wreck.
24. Rc6 +/- Nf6
White now recovers his pawn with interest as the Black pawns will start to drop.  The rest of the game is desperation from Black trying to create threats on the kingside.  Note, however, the security of the White king despite the advanced pawns - his bishops are in ideal position to defend and yet attack the queenside, while his centralized knight observes the whole board.  Also, open lines on the 3rd and 2nd ranks allow for lateral defense.  The rest is offered for completeness.

25. Rxa6 Bd7  26. Nxb5 Rb8  27. a4 Ng4  28. Bf3 Qh6  29. Qc4 Nxh4 (an easily refuted piece sacrifice) 30. Bxg4 Bxg4  31. gxh4 Bf3  32. f5 Qh5  33. Qf4 Bxd5  34. Nxc7 Bb7  35. Rb6 f6  36. Bd4 Qf7  37. Ne6 Rg8  38. Kf2 Rbc8  39. Bc3 Bd5  40. a5 Rc4  41. Nd4 Ba8  42. Qxd6 Qh5  43. Qf4 Rcc8  44. Rbe6  Black resigns, 1-0

An opening disaster for Leko, who appeared to overestimate his chances with the pawn advantage.  Tomorrow is Carlsen-Topalov, should be a firecracker.


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