Magnus Carlsen shows superior understanding of the Ruy Lopez to beat Alireza Firouzja
Alireza Firouzja versus Magnus Carlsen - It was touted as one of the most exciting games of the Tata Steel Masters 2020. However, what happened was nothing short of carnage. Magnus Carlsen with the black pieces showed excellent understanding of the Ruy Lopez structure and took advantage of every small error committed by his opponent. By move no. 14 Carlsen had already equalized, by move 25 he was calling the shots. Before the time control on move 40, the game was already over. With this win Magnus Carlsen is now half a point behind the leader Fabiano Caruana. This victory of Carlsen shows how strong the World Champion is and how comparisons drawn between Firouzja and Carlsen are still quite premature. Complete analysis of this high voltage encounter.
It was one of the most anticipated games of the tournament - Alireza Firouzja vs Magnus Carlsen. The 16-year-old prodigy was leading the Tata Steel Chess 2020 along with Fabiano Caruana with a score of 5.5/8. Magnus Carlsen was not in the best form as he had drawn his first seven rounds of the event. But in the 8th round he had come back with a powerful win against Nikita Vitiugov. On one hand you had Firouzja, who was playing really well and had the white pieces, and on the other you had the reigning World Champion, who is always a dangerous opponent to face after he has won his previous round. Who would come out on top was the question on everyone's mind!
Things between Carlsen and Firouzja had started to heat up right from the World Blitz 2019, when Firouzja lost on time after having three extra pawns in an opposite coloured bishop endgame. The arbiters had given a win to the World Champion. Thoroughly dismayed, Firouzja had hurled his water bottle in anger and also made an appeal on the fact that Magnus had disturbed him during the game by speaking in Norwegian. The appeal was not upheld and Carlsen's win stood. However, it was clear that Firouzja wanted to beat Carlsen at all costs.
Step by Step breakdown of the Tata Steel Masters 2020 game:
Firouzja vs Carlsen, Tata Steel Masters 2020, Round 9
Alireza anyway played a3-a4. This loss of tempo is the difference between White trying for an advantage and Black getting comfortable equality. The interesting thing to note about the above position is that White has reached this position with his move and has played Ba3 here. But in the game it was Carlsen's move and he played Rfc8 immediately putting latent pressure on the c2 bishop.
If you would like to improve your understanding of the Ruy Lopez from white, there is no better chess literature out there than Fabiano Caruana's DVD on navigating the Ruy Lopez part 1-3: