Raymond Keene

Magnus vs Sergei

The World Championship in New York begins this week. In the run-up, the defending champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, has been the heavy favourite to retain his title against Sergei Karjakin, formerly representing the Ukraine but now playing for Russia. Their lifetime score at classical time limits, under which the New York contest will be conducted, is notably loaded in favour of the incumbent.
As a final preview, here is a win by Carlsen against the former champion Vladimir Kramnik. The notes are based on Cyrus Lakdawala’s in Carlsen: Move by Move (Everyman Chess), a useful compendium for those considering Christmas gifts for chess enthusiasts.
Kramnik-Carlsen: Wijk aan Zee 2008; English Opening
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 g3 b6 5 Bg2 Bb7 6 0-0 Be7 7 d4 cxd4 8 Qxd4 d6 9 Rd1 a6 10 Ng5 Bxg2 11 Kxg2 Nc6 12 Qf4 0-0 13 Nce4 Ne8 Better than 13 … Nxe4 14 Qxe4 Bxg5 15 Bxg5 Qc7 16 Bf4 when White continues to exert slight yet nagging pressure, G.Amann-A.Kranz, Goetzis 1997. 14 b3 Ra7 15 Bb2 Rd7 16 Rac1 Nc7 17 Nf3 f5 18 Nc3 g5 (see diagram 1) This is the plan inaugurated with 16 … Nc7. It appears to weaken the black king but White is not really in any position to exploit this. 19 Qd2 g4 20 Ne1 Bg5 Carlsen forces e3, which weakens f3 and all the light squares around White’s king. 21 e3 Rff7 22 Kg1 Ne8 23 Ne2 Kramnik clears the long diagonal and perhaps prepares a knight transfer to f4, at the cost of weakening e4 further. 23 … Nf6 24 Nf4 Qe8 25 Qc3 Rg7 26 b4 Kramnik, sensing the storm coming, hurries with a central pawn counter. 26 … Ne4 27 Qb3 Rge7 28 Qa4 This plan is too slow. White is fine after 28 h4.

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