Malcolm Pein on…Cool Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen secured victory over Daniil Dubov in the best-of-four first leg of their Opera Europe Rapid quarter-final on Chess24 after just three games. Dubov must win leg two to force a tie-break. The first leg will have been a relief for Carlsen, who lost to Dubov in the quarter-finals of the Airthings Masters last December.
The other matches went the distance, with Maxime Vachier- Lagrave defeating Levon Aronian after one win and three draws, while Wesley So came from behind to defeat Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2.5-1.5. Anish Giri had to win on demand with black to save the set against Teimour Radjabov and so ended his opponent’s run of 18 games unbeaten.
M. Carlsen – D. Dubov
Giuoco Pianissimo 15+10
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 0–0 7.Re1 h6 8.Nbd2 Be6 (Dubov is happy with the open f-file and d6–d5 break, but he should be slightly worse after the exchange on e6. 8…Na5 9.Bb5 a6 10.Ba4 c5 would lead to a Ruy Lopez) 9.Bxe6 fxe6 10.Nf1 (10.b4!?) 10…a5 11.Ng3 a4 12.Bd2 d5 13.b4 axb3 14.axb3 Rxa1 15.Qxa1 d4 16.Qb1 (Covering d3) 16…dxc3?! (16…Nh7! was consistent with his previous play and if 17.cxd4 Rxf3! 18.gxf3 Nxd4 19.Kg2 Qf8 20.Qd1 Ng5; or 16…Nh7 17.cxd4 Rxf3! 18.gxf3 Bg5 19.Bxg5 Nxg5 20.Kg2 Qf8 21.Qd1 Nxd4 22.Re3 Qf4 23.Ne2 Nxe2 24.Qxe2 Qh4 and it is White who must be careful)
17.Bxc3 Bc5 18.b4 Bb6 19.b5 Nd4 20.Bxd4! (20.Nxe5 Nh5!! 21.Nxh5 Qg5! was Dubov’s idea, when Black wins back a knight with strong pressure on f2. For example, after 22.Ng3 Qxe5 also attacks b5 and if then if 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 forces 24.Nh1) 20…Bxd4 21.Qb3 Qd7 22.Nf5 (Intending Nf5xd4 and Qb4 or e4–e5) 22…Ng4? 23.N5xd4 exd4 24.e5! (Black’s knight is stranded)
24…h5 25.Qc4 Rxf3 (25…Rd8 26.h3 Nh6 27.Re4 Nf5 28.Rf4 Kh8 29.g4 wins) 26.gxf3 Nh6 27.Rc1 Nf5 28.Qxc7 Qd5 29.Qc2 (29.Qc4 Qxf3 30.Qxe6+ Kh7 31.Qf7 Qg4+ 32.Kf1 Ne3+!? 33.fxe3 Qh3+ draws but 33.Ke1! wins according to the computer) 29…Nh4 30.Qe2 Nxf3+ 31.Kh1 (Coolly done) 31…Nxe5+ 32.f3 Qxb5 (32…Nxf3 33.Qe4 Qxe4 34.dxe4 g5 35.Kg2 g4 36.Rc8+ Kg7 37.Rc7+ Kf6 38.Rxb7) 33.Re1 Nxd3
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