Even the strongest players in the world have an Achilles heel – a weak point. It can be a player whom they find difficult to beat. Carlsen’s Achilles heel was Giri. There was always some tension between the two players since they have played 15 games in classic time control and all ended in a draw apart from the first one, which Giri won with the Black pieces. Thus, Giri had an important psychological advantage.
On another occasion, the World Champion won a super-tournament. His loss in the first round, against Hikaru Nakamura, motivated him to play fantastic chess. He managed to beat the rest of his opponents and won the tournament afterwards.
Carlsen, M (2855) - Giri, A (2785)
Bilbao ESP Bilbao ESP, 22.07.2016
White to play. Can you find the strongest move for White?
Carlsen is happy to sacrifice back the pawn in order to place his knight on the solid d4. He can transfer it there via f3.
21...Nxe5 22.Qg3 Bd6 23.cxd5 exd5 24.Nb3 Qxc2 25.Nd4 Qc8 26.h5
White gains additional space and is cramping Black’s kingside more and more. Black is a pawn up but should pay the price for a lot of weaknesses – on b6, d5, f5 and g7. Please note that the White rook cannot abandon the 1st rank because of Qc1+ and Ng4+.
26...Qd7 27.Rb1 Bc7 28.f3!
How many moves ahead do you think one top grandmaster can see? Do you have a clear answer to that question? No one, even the super-grandmasters themselves, can reply clearly to this question. Prophylaxis is an action, a technique, that strong players use in order to prevent something bad. We use prophylaxis when we clean our teeth. There is no need to wait until they start to rot before going to the dentist, am I right? Carlsen can see Black's next moves. Black would like to go on f7 and then capture the pawn on h5. Meanwhile, White would like to activate his rook. Perhaps he would like to place it back on a rank and go to a6. After this brilliant f3 move, the Black queen on h5 cannot give check on d1. Please note that the knight on e5 doesn't have access to the g4-square.
28...Qf7 29.Ra1 Bd6 30.Ra6 Qxh5 31.Rxb6! Nc4
Suddenly, all Black pieces are misplaced. Observe how Black's queen and knight are restricted. White is threatening the bishop on d6. It cannot go to c7 because the rook can continue to threaten it.
32.Rxd6 Nxd6 33.Bxd6 Rxe3 34.Be5 Qg6 35.Qf4 Re1+ 36.Kf2 Ra1 37.Qd2!
Note: you can see the position in the starting picture Carlsen - Giri
This is another cool, multi-purpose move by White. First things first, White is preventing the rook a2 check. At the same time, the rook cannot retreat to a5. White's next moves are Ne2 and Nf4. White would like to regroup, reorganize his pieces and start attacking the weak center pawn on d5. Black has material superiority but White has more active pieces and potential targets on d5, f7 and g7.
Black is in time trouble and in difficult positional choices. Yes, even the strongest players in the world can crack under heavy pressure.
38.Nxf5! Qe6 [38...Qxf5 39.Qxd5+ Kf8 40.Qxa8++-]
White has total domination in the center and more active pieces, so he can start the direct attack. Right now, White is threatening checkmate. The Black pieces are not well placed, so tactics help White. The bishop is taboo because of the discovered attack.
39...g6 40.Nh6+ Kf8 41.Ng4 Ke8 42.Nf6+ Kf7 43.Nxh7 Ra4 44.Qd8!
This is the final, killing blow by White. White is threatening checkmate on f8. Again, Black cannot capture the bishop on e5 because White will play queen f8; and after king e6, he can create a double threat on e8, winning the rook on a4.
The checks are over. Black cannot give check on a1 because the bishop controls this square. Black cannot capture the bishop because White can win the queen after a long and forcing continuation. Can you find it?
Please think actively about the last diagram. When you are ready, you may like to download the game with detailed comments from here: (Please create some button that students can download the game with analysis.)
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