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Tata Steel 11: Scandalized in the Scandinavian!

by Sagar Shah - 28/01/2017

It was the biggest game of Adhiban's career. An equally important one for his opponent Magnus Carlsen. While Adhiban had a chance to beat the best player on the planet, the World Champion was looking for a win to catch up with the leader Wesley So. As it turns out, the Chennai GM played an inspired game of chess, beginning with the Scandinavian Defense and had Carlsen on the mat at one point in the battle. In the end Magnus wriggled out and the game concluded in a draw. Full analysis of this encounter as well as Giri versus Harikrishna mayhem.

Pictures by Alina L'Ami

These were the standings after round 10. One thing was clear. Magnus Carlsen who was one point behind Wesley So was extremely desperate for a win. Having the white pieces and facing the last seed of the tournament were the further ingredients that would have motivated him to go all out. When the World Champion pushed his pawn to e4 on move one, he had confidence oozing out from him. He had come for a kill!

India's Adhiban Baskaran had the unenviable task of facing a super charged World Champion
But ten rounds at this highest level and Adhiban had learnt the art of surprising his opponents! He replied with the Scandinavian Defense against his Scandinavian opponent!
e4 d5! Just like French against Karjakin, this was the first time that Adhiban had played the Scandinavian in his life!

Magnus Carlsen looked a bit confused after Adhiban's opening choice!
Taking the knight on e5 was an interesting choice by Adhiban. He gave up the bishop pair after Bxh5, but the position was unbalanced to some extent.
The idea of Qa4+ followed by Qxa7 was a risky one by Magnus. He lost some time winning the pawn and in return Adhiban was able to setup this strong idea of Bd6-c7 and Qd6.
The move b5 was an essential ingredient in Black's play. It helped him to gain control over the d5 square for his knight on f6.
Qd7-g4!! was the winning move for Adhiban. But what exactly happens after Re1? Can you find the killer blow?
Yes, of course, the rook swoops in on e3 and it's game over! (check the variations in the analysis given below!)
Which Classical game does the move Re1-e3 remind you of? Well, of course Reti - Alekhine.
Reti-Alekhine, Baden-Baden, 1925
Alekhine (Black to play). What should he do here?
After knowing the Carlsen vs Adhiban theme, we don't need to ask you twice to make the move ...Re3!! Alekhine won a beautiful game.
In case you are interested, here's GM Alejandro Ramirez explaining to you the intricacies of Reti vs Alekhine.
Coming back to Carlsen vs Adhiban, Adhiban didn't play Qd7-g4 and instead chose Qc6. After a few moves the game ended in a draw. It's true that Adhiban can be sad for missing out on a win, but I think a draw against highly motivated and charged up Carlsen is a wonderful result.
[Event "79th Tata Steel Chess 2017-Masters"]
[Site "Wijk aan Zee"]
[Date "2017.01.27"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Adhiban, Baskaran"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B01"]
[WhiteElo "2840"]
[BlackElo "2653"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "98"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
[TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"]
1. e4 {55} d5 $5 {5 The Scandinavian against the World Champion from
Scandinavia! Is that something Adhiban had planned before the game?!} 2. exd5 {
5} Nf6 {4} 3. Nf3 {107 Magnus goes for the most solid approach.} (3. c4 {
Clinging on to the pawn brings nothing good.} e6 $1 4. dxe6 Bxe6 {with
excellent compensation.}) 3... Nxd5 {11} 4. d4 {120} Bg4 {6} 5. h3 {95} Bh5 {98
} 6. Be2 {56} Nc6 {10} 7. O-O {229 Magnus has played it simple and should have
a small edge because he will be looking to play c4 and get greater control of
the center.} e6 {9} 8. c3 {473 Carlsen prefers the solid approach.} (8. c4 Nb6
9. b3 $5 $14) 8... Be7 {459} 9. Ne5 {91} Nxe5 $5 {868} (9... Bxe2 10. Qxe2 Nxe5
11. dxe5 O-O 12. Rd1 Qc8 13. c4 $14 {is nothing substantial, but definitely a
small edge for White.}) 10. Bxh5 {8} Ng6 {2 I already prefer White. He has the
bishop pair, a strong center and a superior position.} 11. Qb3 {598} Rb8 {509}
(11... O-O 12. Qxb7 Rb8 13. Qxa7 Bg5 $36 {Black already has the initiative.})
12. c4 {549} Nf6 {140} 13. Bxg6 $6 {46 A little bit too greedy.} (13. Bf3 $1
Qxd4 14. Be3 $16) 13... hxg6 {4} 14. Qa4+ {5} c6 {1076} 15. Qxa7 {10 Magnus
wins a side pawn. If he wriggle out from the queenside he should be fine. But
unfortunately Adhiban drums up counterplay.} Bd6 {20} 16. Nc3 {149} (16. Qa4 b5
17. cxb5 cxb5 18. Qb3 Bc7 19. Nd2 Qxd4 20. Nf3 Qd7 $11) 16... Bc7 {34 The
queen is coming to d6 and also Bb6 is threatened.} 17. Rd1 {289} Qd6 {400} 18.
g3 {40} Qd7 $1 {191 This was the move that Adhiban was proud of. He gets away
from Bf4 ideas and after Rxh3 is threatened. But the most deadly idea is ...
e5! and Qxh3.} (18... Rxh3 {is not the best idea as after} 19. Bf4 Qe7 20. Bxc7
Qxc7 21. d5 $1 $14 {It's White who has the initiative.} Rxg3+ 22. fxg3 Qxg3+
23. Kf1 Qf3+ 24. Qf2 $18) 19. h4 {40} O-O $1 {154 Good flexible thinking. Once
the pawn has been lured to h4 and the light squares weakened, Black rook has
nothing much to do on h8 and it makes sesnse to quickly castle and resume play
in the centre.} 20. Qc5 {217} b5 $1 {303 This gets the d5 square for the
knight.} 21. cxb5 {662} cxb5 {4} 22. a3 {62} Rfc8 {216} 23. Qg5 {27} b4 {28}
24. axb4 {121} Rxb4 {1 Black pieces are excellently placed and very active.}
25. Qd2 {757} (25. Ra7 Rxd4 $11) 25... Bb6 {163} 26. Ne2 {20 Clumsy play by
Magnus. In order to keep his pawn advantage he has lost the co-ordination of
his pieces.} Rbc4 $1 {25} 27. Qd3 {101} e5 $6 {403 A dubious decision by
Adhiban, but one that worked very well in the game.} (27... Qd5 $15 {Keeping
the position was already a very pleasant situation for Black.}) 28. Bg5 {39} (
28. dxe5 $1 Qxd3 29. Rxd3 Ng4 30. Rc3 $1 {This is a nice move.} Bxf2+ 31. Kg2
Rxc3 32. bxc3 Bc5 33. Bf4 $14 {Although the position should end in a draw,
White is a pawn up for now and can push a bit.}) 28... Ng4 $1 {211 Now Black
once again has pressure.} 29. Rac1 {282} Rxc1 {39} 30. Rxc1 {3} Re8 $1 {
159 Keeping the rook, the pressure is building up on Carlsen's position. All
of Black's pieces are wonderfully placed.} 31. Rd1 {586} exd4 {263} 32. Bf4 {2}
(32. Nxd4 Bxd4 33. Qxd4 Re1+ $19) 32... Nf6 {47} 33. Nc1 {84} Nd5 {484} 34. Bd2
{115 [#] This is the critical position of the game, and the one where Adhiban
missed a forced win.} Qc6 $2 {12} (34... Qg4 $3 {This was the killer stroke.}
35. Re1 (35. Rf1 Ne3 $19) 35... Re3 $3 {Reminds us of the great Reti vs
Alekhine.} 36. fxe3 (36. Qf1 Rf3 $19 {is very strong.}) 36... Qxg3+ 37. Kf1 {
Adhiban said that he saw until here in his calculations, but then left it.
Well, what can we say. He only had to look two moves deeper.} Qf3+ 38. Kg1 dxe3
$19 {And it's all over. Black is a rook down, but has a completely crushing
attack.}) 35. Ne2 {69} Qf6 {326} 36. Rc1 {60} Qf5 {69 This is akin to a draw
offer.} 37. Qxf5 {305} gxf5 {2} 38. Kf1 {8} d3 {20} 39. Nc3 {17} Nxc3 {208} 40.
Rxc3 {0} Bd4 {60} 41. Rb3 {60} g6 {220} 42. f3 {72} Be5 {403} 43. g4 {63} fxg4
{87} 44. fxg4 {2} Bf6 {48} 45. h5 {28} gxh5 {89} 46. gxh5 {1} Re5 {157} 47. h6
{46} Kh7 {25} 48. Rxd3 {68} Rf5+ {4} 49. Ke2 {5} Bxb2 {4 A great result for
Adhiban, but he would have really wished that he would have found Qg4! But in
any case, drawing the World Champion with the black pieces is a great
achievemet.} 1/2-1/2

Adhiban's interview after the game

Pentala Harikrishna played a crazy game against Anish Giri and was almost lost after the opening. But he held on and drew in the end.
[Event "79th Tata Steel Chess 2017-Masters"]
[Site "Wijk aan Zee"]
[Date "2017.01.27"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Giri, Anish"]
[Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A34"]
[WhiteElo "2773"]
[BlackElo "2766"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
[TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"]
1. Nf3 {0} Nf6 {12} 2. c4 {0} c5 {8} 3. Nc3 {0} d5 {7} 4. cxd5 {0} Nxd5 {9} 5.
e4 {0} Nb4 {10} 6. Bc4 {0} Nd3+ {95} 7. Ke2 {0} Nxc1+ {7} 8. Rxc1 {11 This is
one of the wonders of modern chess. White has almost all his pieces developed.
Black hasn't got out any one of them yet and still the position is interesting
and playable! I must say that in order to play this with Black you must be
very well prepared, as one mistake and it's all over.} a6 {10} (8... Nc6 9. Bb5
{has been scoring well for White. Hence, Hari first stops the Bb5 idea.}) 9. d4
{10} b5 {7} 10. Bd5 {3} Ra7 {6 I remember seeing the crazy game between
Jakovenko and Sutovsky and I said to myself, this must be winning for White at
some point. And it was. In the end Sutovsky had won, but still, this line is
very dangerous for Black.} 11. dxc5 {46} e6 {7} 12. c6 {71 Harikrishna thought
here for nearly 28 minutes before making his next move.} b4 $1 {1703} (12...
exd5 13. Nxd5 $16 {looks really bad.}) 13. Qd4 {808} Rc7 {271} (13... Qe7 {
was what Anish had prepared.} 14. Na4 exd5 15. Rhe1 dxe4 16. Kf1 $16 {With a
very strong attack.}) 14. Na4 {275} exd5 {67} 15. exd5 {133 White has two
pawns for a piece and excellent development. Next up the rook will come to e1
and king will tuck itself in on f1. This is the ideal scenario for White.
Black will try to fight this idea, but in any case this looks better for White.
} Be7 {185} 16. Qxg7 {284} Bf6 {110} 17. Qh6 {305} Re7+ {1471} 18. Kf1 {19}
Qxd5 $2 {366} (18... Be5 {was perhaps the best.}) 19. Qxf6 {107 White has won
back his piece and is two pawns up. Even if the one on c6 falls, White will be
a pawn up and the rest should be easy for Anish.} Rg8 {63} 20. h3 $2 {1509} (
20. g3 $1 Bg4 21. Kg2 {It's surely risky to get into this pin, but it all
works out well.} Re6 22. c7 $18) 20... Re6 {810} 21. Qf4 {54} Nxc6 {40} 22. Nc5
{268} Re7 {109} 23. g3 {466} Rg6 {462} 24. Kg2 {416} Qd6 {554 Harikrishna
found that the endgame was the best way to try and defend this inferior
position. But it's just going into a pawn down lost position.} (24... Qxa2 25.
Rhe1 Qd5 26. Ne4 $18) 25. Qc4 {201} (25. Qxd6 Rxd6 $16 {was possible, but Giri
is right when he decides to keep the queens on the board. The black king is
more exposed and it makes sense to keep the most powerful piece.}) 25... Qf6 {
72} 26. Rce1 {256} Qxb2 {68} 27. Na4 {231} Qa3 {211} 28. Nb6 {36} Bb7 {5 Black
is consolidating to some extent.} 29. Nd5 $2 {7 A big blunder by Giri after
which Hari had the chances to wrest over the initiative.} Rge6 $6 {8} (29...
Rd6 $1 30. Qc5 (30. Nxe7 Ne5 $1 31. Rxe5 Qxf3+ $19) 30... Qxf3+ $3 {what a
sacrifice!} 31. Kxf3 Rxd5 32. Rxe7+ Nxe7 33. Qa7 Rf5+ 34. Ke2 Bxh1 $19 {
And Black should win this.}) 30. Qc5 {527} Rxe1 {56} 31. Rxe1 {151} Rxe1 {4}
32. Nxe1 {44} Qxa2 {124} 33. Nf3 {168} Kd7 {1} 34. Kh2 {62} Qe2 {23} 35. Nf6+ {
315} Kc7 {15} 36. Nd5+ {5 A very depressing game for Anish. Once again he
botched up a winning position. And Hari should overall be happy, although he
could have won at one particular instance!} 1/2-1/2

 

The full report with results of other Masters and Challengers section can be found in the ChessBase International newspage.