After three rounds, Fabiano Caruana leads on 3/3, meaning he passes Levon Aronian into the world number 2 spot. Even more amazing than winning three straight games in a tournament where the bottom seed is the world number nine is the fact he has had two blacks so far – one of which was against world number 1 and reigning world champion, Magnus Carlsen, which produced some amazing fireworks. Here’s the game, with some notes from me and Fritz (mostly from Fritz…and I reckon even it doesn’t necessarily understand what’s going on half the time!)
Magnus Carlsen (2877) v Fabiano Caruana (2801); Sinquefeld Cup round 3; 29/08/14
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4
A typically uncommon opening from Carlsen, who must be a nightmare to prepare for amongst everything else.
2. … Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg5 de4 8. de4 h6 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Bg3
The first deviation from gameknot’s world openings database. It has four games where 11. Nc4 was played here, one with 11. Qe2 and one with 11. 0-0.
11. … Bc7 12. O-O Nh5 13. h3 (D)
Nowhere I’ve read has any real explanation for this move. The GM on commentary at the tournament said it was the kind of move he’d never let his students play in a million years. The only thing it seems to have going for it is that it forces the trade on g3 (otherwise white plays Bh2), which opens the f-file. Maybe that gives black less time to defend against white’s upcoming attack. Fritz isn’t a fan, though it does slightly warm to the move over time.
13. … Nxg3 14. fg3 Nc5 15. Bxf7+ Kxf7 16. Ne5+(D)
This presumably is what white was aiming for. It suddenly looks quite scary for black. For example, 16. … Ke6 – not that you’d bring your king forward in a position like this! – is mate in 2.
14. … Nc5 from black maybe missed white’s follow-up. 15. … QxB is just losing after 16. NxP, when Fritz says black’s best off giving up the queen on f1. Fritz says black can survive this – but for a human with a clock ticking and Magnus Carlsen sat opposite you, it’s never quite as simple!
16. … Kg8 17. Ng6 Qg5
Gives up a whole rook, but black is developing his own attack.
19. … Bg4
Fritz finds this instantly, but it’s a nice move – black moves the pinned bishop, thereby attacking both rook and queen.
20. Qf1 Nd3 (D)
In the spirit of the great Tal v Hecht game, Caruana, with two pieces already hanging, simply hangs a third. Carlsen admits to not having seen this coming at all, although Fritz says it gives away black’s edge – but that depends on finding a fairly specific line, which even Carlsen misses.
Black had to calculate 21. RxR, leaving him down a rook, an exchange and two pawns – but with a huge attack starting with 21. … Qe3+. He had to calculate 21. PxB, leaving him down a rook and two pawns – but with a huge attack starting, again, with Qe3+. In both cases, Nf2+ and Bxg3 are follow-up threats, and white’s king is very exposed. He also had to calculate the game continuation of 21. QxN and anything else on offer. Fritz says the not-too-obvious 21. Ng6 is equal, for example.
21. Qxd3 Rxf8 22. hxg4 Qxg4 23. Nf3 Qxg3
In this variation, material is level once the knight on h8 falls.
24. e5+ Kxh8 25. e6 Bb6 26. Kh1 Qg4
A clever little move,which Fritz gives as the only way for black to keep an advantage. The queen can now cover the e-pawn’s queening square by Qh5+, greatly reducing white’s threats.
27. Qd6 Rd8 28. Qe5 Rd5 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. e7 Qh5+ 31. Nh2??
A blunder in time trouble. 31. Qh2 is best, but even then, white has nothing after 31. … Qe8, picking up the e7 pawn.
Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33. Nf1 Qxf1+ 34. Kh2 Qg1+ 0-1
Black’s next move is Qe3+, picking up the e7 pawn and leaving him a piece and pawn up.