Magnus Grabs the Lead

Round five of the Gashimov Memorial was crucial for the leaders. Wesley So suffered his first loss to the former world champion Vishy Anand who showed his best chess so far in Azerbaijan. In the meanwhile the reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway produced a real masterpiece to take the sole lead. His opponent in this game Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France also appreciated the greatness of the game and did not look too disappointed at the end of it. Instead the two players spend a lot of time analyzing the game at a press-conference full of benevolence and positivness.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Shamkir Chess"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.04.21"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2863"]
[BlackElo "2762"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:15:45"]
[BlackClock "0:41:19"]

1. Nf3 {Magnus Carlsen managed to get his opponent away from his beloved
Gruenfeld early in the opening.} Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. Bg2 ({The two players spent a
lot of time analyzing some interesting possibilities after} 3. c3 e6 4. Qb3 {
an idea typical for the Sokolsky opening with colors reversed} a6 5. a4 Bb7 6.
axb5 Bd5 {an old trick, said Carlsen} 7. Qc2 (7. c4 $2 Bxc4 $1 {this is the
point} 8. Qxc4 axb5 $17) 7... axb5 8. Rxa8 Bxa8 9. Qb3 Bxf3 10. exf3 c6 {with
about equal position.}) 3... Bb7 4. Na3 {Diagram [#] A fresh position arose on
move number four!} a6 ({The immediate} 4... b4 {was also possible when after}
5. Nc4 a5 6. d3 {[%cal Ge2e4] "I liked my knight on c4" (Carlsen)}) 5. c4 b4 {
"I decided to play b5-b4 as in the QID the knight is not very well placed on
c2"(Vachier-Lagrave), "Yeah, but then you have to waste a lot of moves"
(Carlsen)} (5... e5 {was teh othe rmove that the two players analyzed. They
had a lot of fun in the arising original lines with Carlsen appologizing at
the end that they are wasting the time of the journalists.} 6. O-O e4 7. Nd4 (
7. Nh4 d5 8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. d3 g5 {Diagram [#]} 10. Nf3 $5) 7... d5 8. d3 (8.
cxb5) 8... c5 9. Nf5 g6 10. Ne3 d4 11. Nd5 Nxd5 12. Bxe4 Bg7 {with equality.})
6. Nc2 e6 ({It is somewhat surpring but this has already been seen before in a
total of 26 games. Here is a recent one} 6... c5 7. O-O e6 8. d4 cxd4 9. Ncxd4
$14 {Efimenko,Z (2648)-Moiseenko,A (2707) Dubai 2014}) 7. d4 a5 {The players
agreed that White is somewhat better after} (7... Be7 8. a3 bxa3 9. b3 $14) 8.
O-O Be7 9. d5 Na6 10. Nfd4 Nc5 11. Re1 $146 {[%cal Ge2e4] Diagram [#] Only
this is a novelty. White prepares e2-e4.} ({Another recent game saw} 11. dxe6
fxe6 12. Bxb7 Nxb7 13. Bf4 O-O 14. Nb5 Ne8 15. e4 {with slight edge for White,
Neiksans,A (2559)-Kulaots,K (2563) Wroclaw 2014}) 11... O-O {Carlsen was
surprised that his opponent allowed the move e2-e4 that easily and suggested
instead} (11... Nfe4 12. f3 (12. Nb3 Nxb3 13. axb3 Nc5 14. e4 e5) 12... Nd6 13.
e4 O-O (13... Nxc4) 14. b3 e5 {with a better version to what had happened in
the game later.}) 12. e4 e5 ({Maybe} 12... d6 13. dxe6 Nfxe4 {but this is what
I was unhappy about (Vachier)} 14. Qg4 Nf6 15. Qe2 $16) 13. Nf5 d6 14. Bg5 $1 {
[%csl Yg5][%cal Rf6d5] Diagram [#] A wonderful positional sacrifice of a pawn.}
({The immediate} 14. f4 {is also possible but less appealing to the world
champion} Nfd7 15. Nxe7+ Qxe7 16. f5 c6 {"too many loose ends, should be OK
for Black" (Carlsen)}) 14... Nxd5 {Vachier decided to bite the bullet. "So
Magnus, you were considering this move?" asked the jounalist and WGM Elmira
Mirzoeva. "I am capable of missing it, but not today..."(Carlsen)} (14... Bc8
15. Nce3 h6 16. Bh4 {looks terrible for Black (Carlsen)}) 15. Bh6 $1 {The
point of White's sacrifice. In return for the pawn he will ruin the black
castle and cement the knight on the wonderful outpost on f5. He will also
dominate on the light squares.} gxh6 16. Qg4+ (16. cxd5 Kh8 17. Qh5 {also
looks fun for White.}) 16... Bg5 17. cxd5 Kh8 18. h4 $1 {[%csl Yg5][%cal Gg2h3,
Yg4f3,Gh3g4,Gg4h5,Gc2e3] Diagram [#] The beginning of a nice regroupment on
the light squares that clearifies the situation.} Bf6 19. Nce3 Bc8 20. Qf3 Bg7
21. Bh3 $1 Rg8 22. Bg4 Qf6 23. Bh5 {With the bishop coming out all the white
pieces stand nicely. Now he can think of including the rooks into the battle.}
Bxf5 24. Nxf5 c6 {"If you do not play this then you will lose at some moment
because of the rook coming on f3" (Carlsen). "Even rook on the g file and
g3-g4 I thought. And g4-g5 at some moment" (Vachier).} 25. dxc6 Rac8 26. Qd1
Rxc6 (26... Nxe4 {does not work due to} 27. Bg4 $1) 27. Qd5 Rgc8 28. Rad1 Bf8
29. Qxf7 (29. Bxf7 Na4 {did not appeal to the Norwegian although this also
looks close to winning for White.}) 29... Qxf7 30. Bxf7 {White won the pawn
back and kept the dominant position of his pieces. He owes everything- the
bread, the butter and the knife.} Na4 31. Re2 Rc1 32. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 33. Kg2 Nc5
34. b3 {[%csl Gb3] Diagram [#] "I was very happy to play this move and to stop
any counterplay" (Carlsen). "I am playing a bishop and a king down" (Vachier).}
Rc3 35. Kh3 Nd7 36. Be6 Nc5 37. Bd5 Nd7 38. Ne3 Nf6 39. Be6 Rc5 40. Nc4 Kg7 ({
Vachier was always looking for counter-play but it never worked. Here for
instance} 40... a4 {fails to} 41. bxa4 d5 42. Ne3 (42. Nxe5 {should do as well}
)) 41. f3 $1 {Even in such a great position the world champion does not lose
focus! He rejected his original plan} (41. Kg2 {after seeing the tactical
continuation} Nxe4 $1 42. Rxe4 Kf6 43. Bg8 d5 {Diagram [#] which would have
complicated matters.}) 41... Ne8 42. Rd2 Nc7 43. Bg4 {It is over, Black's
position falls appart.} a4 (43... Nb5 44. Nxa5 {drops a pawn.}) 44. Nxd6 Bxd6
45. Rxd6 a3 46. Bd7 ({Vachier Lagrave suggested an alternative win after} 46.
Rd7+ Kf8 47. Rxh7 Rc2 48. f4 exf4 49. gxf4 Nb5 50. e5 Rxa2 51. e6) 46... Rc2 {
The last chance for Black is connected with the sacrifice of the knight.} 47.
Bc6 Rxa2 48. Rd7+ Kf6 49. Rxc7 Rc2 50. Rxh7 Kg6 (50... Rxc6 51. Rxh6+) 51. Rc7
{Now White is waiting for the pawn to come on a2 to play Rc7-a7.} Kf6 52. h5 $1
{Finishes the game in style with checkmate.} Rc1 53. Rh7 a2 54. Bd5 {[%csl Rf6]
[%cal Gh7f7] Diagram [#] Vachier resigned due to the checkmate.} (54. Bd5 a1=Q
55. Rf7+ Kg5 56. Rf5# {What a game by the world champion!}) 1-0


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