Malcolm Pein on…Carlsen’s Pet Pelikan


Today’s Daily Telegraph chess column features a tough test for Carlsen’s pet Pelikan.

Wesley So recently released a Chessable course on 1 e4 and it is clearly serving him well in tournament play.

Of course, even the most faithful of pets will have days when they just don’t do what you want them to do. Will Carlsen’s pet Pelikan be back in better health soon?

Malcolm Pein on…Carlsen’s Pet Pelikan

One of the mainstays of Magnus Carlsen’s repertoire for his 2018 title match against Fabiano Caruana was the Sicilian Pelikan. He secured three draws with black in the match proper, in games eight, 10 and 12, while also scoring what was pretty much the decisive win in the Rapid play-off.

Lifetime Repertoires: Queen\'s Gambit Declined

Last November, Wesley So ventured a different way of playing the position to that employed by Caruana and caught the world champion off guard. This victory enabled So to win the Skilling Open, the first leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.

Wesley So – Magnus Carlsen
Sicilian Pelikan 15+10

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.Qf3 (9.a4 was played by Caruana) 9…a6 10.Qa3 b6 (10…Be7 11.Bg5 Bxg5 12.Nxd6+ Kf8 13.Nxc8+ Kg8 14.Nd6 Be7 15.Nxb7! is very good for White but; 10…Be7 11.Bg5 f6 12.Be3 0–0 13.0–0–0 Might be one critical line) 11.Bg5

Carlsen's Pet Pelikan

11…Be7 (If 11…Qxg5 12.Nc7+ Ke8 13.Nxa8 Nd7 14.g3 Bb7 15.Nc7 a5 16.Bg2 is hopeless for Black. Question One: How would you answer 11…Qd7?)

12.Bxe7 Kxe7 13.0–0–0 Bb7 14.Nc3 Nd7 15.f4! Qc7 16.fxe5 Nxe5 17.Qb4 h5 (Black’s knight is excellent, but he loses time safeguarding his king. If 17…Rhe8 18.Qh4+ f6 19.Qxh7)

18.Be2 Kf8 19.Rhf1 Re8 20.Rf5 h4 21.Rf4 Qd8 22.Kb1 Rh6 23.Rdd4 h3?! (The pawn proves to be a weakness. 23…Nd7!? 24.Rxh4? a5!)

24.g3 Bc8 25.a4 Kg8 26.Rde4 Qc7 27.Rh4 a5?! (27…Rxh4 28.Rxh4 Qc5 would escape into an equal endgame)

28.Qd4 Rxh4 29.Rxh4 (29.gxh4!?) 29…Bf5 (29…Qc5!) 30.Rh5 Qc8 (30…Bd7 31.Nb5 Qb8 hangs on, but White intends Bd3 or g3–g4 and h3 is likely to fall) 31.Qxb6 Ng4

Test Your Strength

So Attacking Carlsen's Pet Pelikan

For today’s second puzzle, it’s White to play and win material.

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answers.

Answer One:

12.Qc3!! axb5 13.Bxb5 Qxb5 14.Qxc8#

Answer Two:

32.Ba6 Re1+ (32…Qd7 33.Bb5) 33.Ka2 Qe8 34.Rxf5 Ne3 35.Bb5 Qe7 1–0