Magnus Carlsen’s Winning Techniques

Magnus Carlsen’s Winning Techniques

Magnus Carlsen’s winning techniques have taken him from earning a grandmaster title at the age of 13, to being the reigning World Chess Champion since 2013. Today, he is often considered to be an even better player than the living legend, Garry Kasparov. Although there are tons of chess books and DVDs about the reasons behind Magnus Carlsen’s outstanding results, it is still a mystery to pinpoint what makes him such a brilliant chess player. He outplays 2700+ rated chess players like schoolboys and nobody in the chess world can safely say how he really does it.

The good news is that a brand new video by IM Valeri Lilov, an absolute expert on Magnus Carlsen’s winning techniques, is at hand. This time, IM Lilov analyzes two games by Magnus Carlsen and tries to figure out how he regularly dominates his opponents. He shares some very powerful concepts and successful strategies by Magnus which you can use in your own games, too.

Magnus Carlsen (2861) – Pentala Harikrishna (2698) – Wijk aan Zee 2013

The game we’re looking at was played in 2013 and provides a striking example of Magnus Carlsen’s winning techniques. We take a look at the game after White’s 13th move (see next diagram).

Winning 1

The position at hand arose from the Ponziani Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3) which is an interesting choice by Magnus who often tries to avoid long theoretical discussions. In this position, he has already gained a lot of space with his pawns and drove Black’s knight back to a poor square on b7. But how to continue?

Black followed up with the logical move 13…a5, trying to generate counterplay on the queenside. Now, it is great to see how Magnus Carlsen judges his chances and sacrifices a pawn in order to give himself a protected passed pawn in the centre, allowing him to dominate the entire board.

He played 14.f5!? axb4 15.cxb4 Bxb4 16.Qg4! (threatening to attack on the kingside) Bc3 17.Rac1 Bxd4 18.Bxd4 Rxa2 (grabbing another pawn) 19. e6! f6. Magnus has achieved his aim: he has a protected passed pawn on e6 which forces Black’s pieces to defend. Moreover, with his next move, 20.Nb3, he blocks the enemy’s queenside pawns on c5 and d4. Over the course of the game, he managed to regroup his pieces and win all of Black’s on the queenside, giving him a free extra pawn on e6. Magnus Carlsen's Winning Techniques

In the final position after 49 moves, Black could only resign.

White has numerous ways to seal the deal. A nice winning move would be 50.Nxf6! as now Black’s queen is under attack and he can’t simply win the White queen in view of 50…Qxd4 Rxf8#.

If you want to see the whole game and all the analysis on how Magnus did the technical job against Harikrishna, you definitely have to watch the full video!

Magnus Carlsen (2861) – Erwin L’Ami (2627) – Wijk aan Zee 2013 

This is another game where Magnus Carlsen shows his brilliant technique to grind down his strong opponent from the Netherlands. The game started with a well known line in the Caro-Kann. 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Bc4 e6 7.N1e2 b5!?. This is an interesting attempt to seize control over some important squares on the queenside. However, the move also has its drawbacks as some weaknesses are created for Black on the queenside.

After 8.Bb3 Bd6 9.Nf4 Bxf4 10. Bxf4 Nf6 11.0-0 0-0, White has an enduring advantage due to the two bishops (see following diagram).

Magnus Carlsen's Winning TechniquesBlack’s dark squares especially tend to be quite vulnerable as White’s dark-squared bishop has no counterpart. However, the big question for White is how to proceed in this position? It is difficult for White to make any progress without opting for a concrete plan. Black’s position is very solid and it’s unlikely that piece play alone will be sufficient against the Black fortress.

Give yourself some time to think of a good plan for White.

Magnus played the astonishing 12.c4! With this move, he shows a very deep understanding of the position. At first glance, this move looks odd as after 12…bxc4 13. Bxc4, it leaves White with a weak isolated d-pawn.

If you want to know the answer, you have to watch GM Lilov’s analysis in the video. You’ll see why this move is so great and how the game continued until Magnus went on to win.

One thing is to study his techniques, another is to study Magnus Carlsen’s opening moves. This article covers the variations of openings Magnus employs succinctly to obtain the upper hand.

Do you want to learn more about Magnus Carlsen’s winning techniques and the thinking processes of other Super-GMs? Click here to get a special discount on “How Super GMs Think – Change your Mindset!” by GM Damian Lemos.

One comment on “Magnus Carlsen’s Winning Techniques

  1. wally says:

    today is sunday april 15 18 the other day i had the pleasure of watching magnus play speed i min games on lichess.org as drunkenstein. boy his i min games are really something to see! i did not see the whole tourney saw about 20 games! i saw enough to know i would not want to play him and i have played some wild 1 minute games 57 moves in 1 minute no increments! but this guy is unreal! you go magnus u may well be greatest ever as you stroll through the corridor of time as you easily dabble in the greatest time killer of all chess!!

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One comment on “Magnus Carlsen’s Winning Techniques

  1. wally says:

    today is sunday april 15 18 the other day i had the pleasure of watching magnus play speed i min games on lichess.org as drunkenstein. boy his i min games are really something to see! i did not see the whole tourney saw about 20 games! i saw enough to know i would not want to play him and i have played some wild 1 minute games 57 moves in 1 minute no increments! but this guy is unreal! you go magnus u may well be greatest ever as you stroll through the corridor of time as you easily dabble in the greatest time killer of all chess!!

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