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Corus 08 r10: Carlsen Bounces, Ivanchuk Lives

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As we saw during his 2007 candidates match against Aronian, Magnus Carlsen can not only deliver a punch, he has a pretty tough jaw as well. A day after he lost to Leko after an ugly blunder Carlsen bounced back to beat Loek van Wely with the black pieces. It wasn't exactly a clean knockout. van Wely got a great position against the Benko Gambit Carlsen plays on occasion. By the time they got to move 23 it was clear things were desperate for Black. Carlsen effectively stirred things up enough to get van Wely into time trouble, not exactly a rare occurrence. It didn't pay off for a while and Carlsen blundered first with 31..Qxc2. White could have sealed the deal with the boring 33.Bxe7, when Black's position finally falls apart completely.

Black was still completely toasted, but White had to move his queen on move 39 and, in the immortal words of the Grail Knight, "he chose poorly." Qe7 would have pinned the Bg7 and made the g1 square safe for the white king. Instead Black has miraculous counterplay. 40.Kg1!? Bd4 41.Rh8+! Kxh8 42.Be5+ forces an endgame that is better for White but looks holdable. After 40.Kg3? Nc4! White is in trouble. I don't know if van Wely used 10 minutes or 1 second for his 41st move but it lost immediately. 41.Qb3 Qh1 42.Be5 is still a game. Losing track of the move number is a typical problem. Carlsen's finishing was precise. A brutal defeat for van Wely after an excellent game. It also shows that at 17 Carlsen already has the famous luck of champions. Or, as it is also known, having raw talent like Saudi Arabia's got oil.

The win moved Carlsen back into clear first with 6.5/10 with three games remaining. The first is today's white against Anand, then it's black against Kramnik and white against the occasionally, bafflingly, peaceable Radjabov. Those with good memories may recall that Carlsen beat Radjabov in the final round of Biel last year to move into a share of first (and then he won the playoff with Onischuk). Official site.

The other decisive game of round 10 was Ivanchuk outclassing his countryman Eljanov, who has confirmed his outsider status with four losses against no wins. Ivanchuk played an enterprising pawn sac novelty against the Catalan with 13..b5! and made steady progress to score his first win of the tournament after nine, count'em, nine draws.

Aronian is a half-point off the lead and a giant pack with impressive credentials is chasing a point back of Carlsen: Kramnik, Anand, Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Adams. Topalov is one of several players on an even score but the only one anyone could conceive of winning his final three games!


Glancing at Carlsen-Anand, after 35...Kd6, I'm guessing that Carlson will go down against Anand, whom Mig named the greatest tactical defender of all time.

Whatever the outcome, hats off to Carslen who, rather than safely protecting his tournament lead, played a no-holds-barred game.

greatest of all time? That gets thrown around way too much. How about Karpov, Petrosian, even Fischer and Kasparov were great tactical defenders, so please enough with the hyperbole. Great tactical defender..yes...isn't that enough????

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 25, 2008 1:07 AM.

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    Corus 08 r11: Sink or Swim is the next entry in this blog.

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