Chess Sizzles in Saint Louis

World Champion Magnus Carlsen  vanquishes Ding Liren in fast chess time controls with this tidy example of his play with the black pieces.  If you enjoyed the previous battle, you will jump for joy at finding this equally appealing.  Both players turn on the fire and seem to bring to life the spirit of fight that certainly rivals more physical sport.

White:  Ding Liren   vs.  Magnus Carlsen   Opening: English Opening-Four Knights

Following 1. c4 Nf6  2. Nc3  e5  3. Nf3 Nc6  4. e3  Bb4  5. Qc2  White adopts a strategy of using the tempo in hopes of playing a picture defense system sometimes seen in modern chess strategy.  One problem with this strategy is that the spirit of the 64-squares really is seen in the human element.  GM Carlsen meets this strategy with a clear vision of coming events and good principles aimed at the middle game.

5….d6  6. Nd5  Na5  7. a3  N:d5  Carlsen often uses the simpliest ideas to changing the contour on the board.  He exchanges his own Knight that has moved only once to trade the White outpost Knight that had moved twice.  How this might effect the board overall is hard to say.  Factoring square count principles, two center defense pawns hold the three white pawns for the moment and leaves the Bishop lacking inroads into the black position.

8. c:d5  Ne7  9. b4  Bb6  10. Bc4  O-O  11. Bb2  Bf5  12. d3  Ng6  Note that the developing Bishops for White really lack purpose and threats.  Black Bishops burn into the white fortress diagonal lines.

13. h4  If White chooses castling instead, Black would continue with 13…Nh4 14. N:h4 Q:h4 with a slight edge in position.

13. …h6  14. h5  Ne7  15. Nd2  Rc8!  Getting his forces together prior to launching …c6. White seems to fail in finding a meaningful thought process in building his own pressure on the position.  This, ever slight difference in thinking up a solid plan is a advantage of Carlsen’s thought process.

16. e4?  This opens the long diagonal controlled by black.

16. … Bg4  17. d4  e:d4  18. f3??  White exposes more squares around the King position. Simply 18. Qd3 would be better.

18….Bd7  19. Qd3  c6!  At last, Black confronts the White center pawns. His timing is exceptionally perfect.

20. d:c6  B:c6  21. b5  Bd7  22. O-O  d5  23. e:d5  Bf5 24. Ne4  N:d5  25. B:d5  Q:d5  26. Rad1  Rfd8  27. Rfe1 Rc3!!  White resigns as capturing the Rook is suicide.

Well, folks!  Hope you agree that my selection spurred the excitement and adventure that can be seen on the 64-squares.  Champion’s challengers are many today compared to fifty years or more ago.  It is a better chess-world when the champ takes an active role in promoting the game we all love.

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