Analyzing Magnus Carlsen’s Best Chess Game

Magnus Carlsen’s Best Chess Game

GM Nadya Kosintseva has already analyzed her favorite Magnus Carlsen game. Now it’s the time for IM Valeri Lilov to do the same.

It’s interesting that each presenter has their own idea of what constitutes a brilliant game. While Nadya chose a strategical battle, Valeri has gone for a brilliant attack! This is great for those of us studying chess as we can learn from different aspects of the reigning world chess champion’s play!

Lilov’s choice is Magnus Carlsen’s win against Hans Harestad, when he was only 12 years old! The game started with the always complicated Ruy Lopez and ended with a beautiful sacrifice! A complete game to enjoy.

Let’s explore this brilliant win.

The Opening

Magnus Carlsen's Best Chess Game 1Magnus played a Ruy Lopez and his opponent played the most popular response: the Chigorin Variation (diagram).

In this important opening position, the most played move, by far, is 12…cxd4. But also 12…Bd7 and 12…Nc6 are important options. Black played the latter option. Carlsen played the most critical answer: 13.d5! Nd8 14.a4!, as is known from the famous game Karpov-Unzicker, Olympiad Final-A (1974), Nice, France.

Both players continued with typical Spanish moves, and the middlegame started in the 18th move (see the second diagram).

You can get a better understanding of the Spanish Opening with the course Dominate with the Ruy Lopez.

The Middlegame – Preparing the Attack

Magnus Carlsen's Best Chess Game 2The middlegame provides us with a perfect example of how to play the Ruy Lopez. Magnus Carlsen mainly focused his attention on the enemy kingside, as he clearly wanted to attack the black king.

The move 18.Nh2! is a typical maneuver with many ideas in mind. First, the knight tries to jump to g4, and then to h6. But the knight move also allows White to open the f-file with the pawn break f2-f4.

Magnus quietly arranged his pieces into the attack in the next few moves, reaching the third diagram.

Magnus Carlsen's Best Chess Game 3Here, White is fully prepared for the attack. The only problem is that Black is threatening to play Nh6. Carlsen played… 31.f4! anyway!

Black can’t safety take the knight, as after 31…exf4 32.Qxf4 Kxh6 33.h4 White recovers the piece, with a very dangerous attack.

Instead, Black preferred to win material with 32…Bxh3?, as 33.gxh3?? Nxh3+ loses the queen.

But, Black lost a precious tempo in taking the pawn, which allowed White to create an irresistible attack with 33.Qh4! Bd7. Black already has a winning combination. Can you discover it?

The Middlegame – The Final Combination

Magnus Carlsen's Best Chess Game 4Carlsen activated his sleeping Spanish bishop on c2 by playing 34.e5!!, and after 34…dxe5 we reach the last diagram.

White has a beautiful idea to mate the opposing king. This is your last chance to try to discover it…

White has all his pieces attacking, so he only needs to find the way to break through.

Magnus Carlsen won with 35.Nh5+! gxh5 36.Qxg5+! fxg5 37.Rf7+ and 38.Rxh7#. Wonderful!

A magnificent game to learn a lot about the Ruy Lopez and how to generate a powerful attack with all your pieces. IM Valeri Lilov’s analysis shows you how to think in the critical moments of the game. A great game and a great lecture!

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