GM Ian Rogers Annotates Sinquefield Chess Cup Round 2: Levon Aronian – Magnus Carlsen 1/2 – 1/2

Perfect Jam: Levon Aronian – Magnus Carlsen 1/2 – 1/2

Grandmaster Ian Rogers annotates the very interesting clash between World No. 1 and World No. 2 Levon aronian that ended as a draw in the second round of the Sinquefield Chess Cup (official website) in Saint Louis. Read a full report on Chess Blog.

Aronian, Levon (2813) – Carlsen, Magnus (2862)

Result: 1/2-1/2
Site: Saint Louis Chess Club
Date: 2013.09.10

[…] 1.d4 f5 A big shock from a player who has not used the Dutch Defense for a decade, but Carlsen explained that “Lev’s games against the Dutch have not been so convincing.” 2.♘f3 ♘f6 3.c4 g6 4.♘c3 ♗g7 5.♗f4 An unusual system, though Carlsen might have had some advance notice since Aronian’s second, Hrant Melkumyan, used it to good effect earlier this year. 5…d6 6.e3 ♘c6 A sensible but unusual plan, with the tactical point that 7.d5 is well met by 7…e5!. 7.♗e2 O-O 8.O-O ♘e4 9.h3 Played reluctantly, since allowing Black to achieve … e5 gives a favorable London System for Black, but

9.♘xe4 fxe4 10.♘d2 offers less than nothing because of 10…♘xd4 .

9…e5 10.♗h2 exd4 An elegant method of resolving the tension in Black’s favor. Usually Black plays to keep the White bishop locked on h2 with a plan such as

10…♘xc3 11.bxc3 ♕e7 but here Aronian will be able to break out with 12.c5

11.exd4 ♘g5 12.♘xg5 Had Aronian realized the approaching problems he might have opted for the radical pawn sacrifice

12.c5 ♘xf3+ 13.♗xf3 ♘xd4 14.cxd6 cxd6 15.♗d5+ ♔h8 16.♖e1 when White has plenty of play for the pawn because 16…f4 fails to 17.♖e4 .

12…♕xg5 13.f4 This looks horrible, but on

13.♘b5 Aronian feared 13…f4 14.♔h1 ♖f7 when White cannot maintain his center and his bishop on h2 remains crippled.

13…♕f6 14.d5 ♘d4 15.♔h1 c5 Now the position is starting to get seriously depressing for White who has no active plan while Black can play …Bd7, …a6, …Rab8 and aim for …b5. 16.♗d3 ♗d7 17.♗g1 ♖ae8 The first of many mysterious rook moves, when using the king’s rook on the e file and the queen’s rook on the b file would be natural. 18.♕d2 a6 19.♖ad1 ♖b8

19…b5 now fails because the White queen is protected after 20.cxb5 axb5 21.♗xd4 ♕xd4 22.♗xb5

20.a4 A choice of evils, but allowing Black a free hand with …b5 is probably the greater one. 20…♕d8 21.♖b1 ♕a5 Immediately targeting the weak squares created by 20.a4. 22.♕d1 ♕b4 23.♗f2 ♖be8 This rook? Really? 24.♗e1 ♕b3 25.♕xb3 ♘xb3 26.♗c2 ♘a5 A risky looking square but the c4 pawn is hard to defend because 27.b3 loses to 27…Rxe1!. 27.♗d3 ♖e3 28.♖d1 ♖b8 “OK, this rook move was nonsense,” admitted Carlsen, who was sorely tempted by

28…♖fe8 29.♗f2 ♖xd3 (29…♖3e7 30.♗h4 is nothing. ) 30.♖xd3 ♘xc4 but could not bring himself to take any risks.

29.♗f2 ♖ee8 30.♖a1 Aronian was pleased with this move, attempting to lure the Black knight back to b3. 30…♗d4 31.♔g1 ♗e3 The exchange of dark-squared bishops on e3 leads to nothing but Carlsen’s legendary will to win seemed to be missing at this point of the game, despite Aronian’s time trouble, with only a few minutes left to reach the move 40 time control. There was no harm in bringing the Black king to f7 and beginning the grinding process. 32.♗xe3 ♖xe3 33.♖ad1 ♖be8 34.♔f2 Now the rooks come off the board and the draw is safe for White. “I really should have made more of my nice position,” admitted Carlsen. 34…♘b3 35.♖fe1 ♖xe1 36.♖xe1 ♖xe1 37.♔xe1 ♘d4 38.♔d2 ♔f7 39.♗e2 ♔f6 40.♗d1 a5

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