Magnus Carlsen’s Best Chess Game
It is always a great source of inspiration to see some of the best games from the world’s strongest chess players. If we think of Garry Kasparov’s best chess game, for example, his famous game against Veselin Topalov which was played back in 1999 immediately comes to mind.
Today, GM Eugene Perelshteyn takes a closer look at a masterpiece played by the young Norwegian Super Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.
Magnus Carlsen is simply an extraordinary talented chess player. He was only 13 years old when he earned his grandmaster title in 2004. In 2009, Magnus Carlsen reached an impressive ELO rating of over 2800 and just one year later, he became the world’s No. 1 in the FIDE rankings. Three years later, Carlsen defeated the reigning World Chess Champion Vishy Anand in a match of twelve games (Carlsen even ended the match after 10 games) and became the new World Chess Champion.
Of course, it is always a controversial topic to figure out a chess player’s best chess game. Magnus played many excellent games in his career so far. But the following game really stands out.
Let’s take a look at Magnus Carlsen’s best chess game against another young prodigy – Super Grandmaster Li Chao (2730) from China.
Qatar Masters 2015: Carlsen, Magnus (2834) – Li, Chao (2750)
The game starts as a Gruenfeld Defense: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 (a fashionable move against the Gruenfeld Defense) d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 f5 10.e5 (see the diagram on the right).
In positions of opposite side castling, both players quickly have to attack the opponent’s king. The principal method to launch an attack is to start a pawn storm or to use as many pieces as possible for the attack. Consequently, other the next couple of moves, both players start to prepare their attack. But who is faster? That’s the ultimate question.
10…Nb4 11.Nh3 Qe8 12.Kb1 (protecting the pawn on a2) a5 13.Be2 c6 14.Rc1 Kh8 (a prophylactic move, directed against Ng5) 15.Ka1 Be6 16.Nf4 Qf7 17.h4 (see the diagram on the left).
Finally, Magnus starts to push his h-pawn forward in order to open the h-file. It is very instructive to see that Magnus doesn’t care about material here at all. He gives up his pawn on a2 and starts his own attack. 17…Bxa2 18.h5 Kg8. Black removes his king from the h-file. 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.g4! (see the diagram on the right).
A brilliant move by Magnus. At first glance, it seems that he wants to open more files on the kingside. In fact, however, we clears the way for his queen coming to h2 and threatening mate on h7.
Li Chao has nothing better than to increase his own attacking changes. He plays 20…Bb3 21.Bd1 (removing the last piece from the second rank) a4 22.Qh2 (threatening mate on h7) 22…Rfd8 23.Qh7+ Kf8 (see the diagram on the left).
Now, Magnus finds an excellent move – 24.d5! Magnus sacrifices a pawn on the most defended square. Still, it is a very strong move, attacking the knight on b6, and if a knight takes on d5, allowing e6. Li Chao answers with 24…Nc4!?
This move sets up the unstoppable threat of …a3. White’s only chance is to create a decisive mating attack against the black king first. However, this requires very accurate calculation.
25.Ng6+! It would have been fatal to play 25.e6 first, as after 25…a3 26.exf7 axb2 27.Kb1 Ra1 is mate. 25…Ke8 26.e6 (threatening exf7 with check) 26…a3 (see the diagram on the right).
What a race! Black sacrifices the queen in order to create some serious threats against White’s king. If White plays a calm move like 27.gxf5 now, he would be mated quickly.
In the game, Magnus takes the Black queen with 27.exf7+, but after 27…Kd7 (see the diagram on the left), it looks like the black king has escaped, and being a queen down seems less important, than the speed of the mating attack.
Again, it wouldn’t have been Magnus Carlsen’s best chess game if he hadn’t a brilliant move in store. What would you play here with White?
If you want to see how Magnus did the job, you’ll need to watch the video and let yourself be inspired by Magnus Carlsen’s best chess game.
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