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Squeezing the Win Out of a Drawn Endgame: Mamedyarov – Carlsen 2018

[Event “World Blitz Championship”]
[Date “2018”]
[White “Shakhriyar Mamedyarov”]
[Black “Magnus Carlsen”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D31”]
[Opening “QGD: Janowski variation”]

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6

The Queen’s gambit declined

  1. Nc3 a6

The Janowski variation of the QGD. The idea of a6 prepares the b5 pawn push which aids the development of the light squared bishop on the b7 square and in some other scenarios, denies white the b5 square.

  1. Nf3 Nf6 5. e3 dxc4 6. Bxc4 b5

The point of releasing the tension early in the center. Black hits the bishop at c4 to try to gain time to develop his pieces.

  1. Be2 Bb7 8. O-O Nbd7 9. b3 c5

9…c5 is considered a very important move in this kind of position. If the pawn is left on c7, it may become an object of attack, especially after if the white rooks occupy the c-file. With 9…c5, black tries to weaken white’s center and properly develop his pieces.

  1. Bb2 Be7 11. Rc1 O-O 12. Qc2 Rc8 13. Qb1

A prophylactic move, black rook on c8 xrays the white queen on c2 so white wisely redevelops his queen.

13… Qb6 14. Rfd1 Rfd8 15. h3 h6

Now that both sides’ pieces are fully developed, each side plays a waiting move. It’s always best to keep the tension and let your opponent be the first to do the capturing as this would activate your pieces.

  1. dxc5 Nxc5 17. Rxd8+ Rxd8 18. Rd1

White seeks total excahnge of rooks to ease movement.

18… b4!

Grabbing more space and fixing the a2 pawn in place. Black is already slightly better here.

  1. Rxd8+ Qxd8 20. Na4

White other option was to go Nd1 but after that, it would be a bit difficult bringing the knight into active play. So white was forced to concede with Na4 attracting doubled pawns in the process.

20… Nxa4 21. bxa4 Qd5

Centralizing the queen and restricting white pieces further.

  1. Bxf6

White noticed that the knight on f6 could become dangerous after Ne4, Nc3 and opted to exchange it, giving black doubled f-pawns.

SEE ALSO – All You Need To Know About Pawns In Chess

22… gxf6

Bxf6 would simply lose the pawn on b4.

  1. Qb3 a5 24. Qc2 Qc6 25. Qxc6 Bxc6

Now white pawn weaknesses on a2 and a4 are quite glaring, besides that, black possesses the two bishops which is a significant plus.

  1. Bd1 f5 27. Nd4 Bd5 28. Bb3 Bb7

Black correctly avoids an exchange as taking the bishop on b3 would suddenly turn the tides in white’s favor.

  1. Bc4 Bc5 30. Kf1?! Bxd4 31. exd4

Mamedyarov, in a bid to release some pressure, offers exchange of minor pieces but now he has 3 weak isolated pawns. This would be a difficult task to defend.

31… Bc6 32. Bb3 f4

Taking more space.

  1. g3 fxg3 34. fxg3 Kf8

Black’s plan is very simple here, move the king to the center of the board, force exchange of bishops, and proceed to pressure the weak pawns.

  1. Kf2 Ke7 36. g4?

The engines seriously dsapprove of this move and claims that black has a winning advantage after this.

36… f6 37. Ke3 Kd6 38. Kf4 Bd5 39. h4 Bxb3 40. axb3

The minor pieces have been exchanged and black is winning here.

40… Kd5 41. Ke3 e5 42. dxe5 Kxe5

fxe5 loses as white gains the opposition after Kd3.

  1. Kf3 Kd4
  2. Kf4 Kc3 45. Kf5 Kxb3 46. Kxf6 Kxa4 47. g5 hxg5 48. hxg5 b3 49. g6 b2 50. g7
    b1Q 51. g8Q Qb2+

With accurate play, black would exchange queens and promote the a-pawn. White resigned quickly.


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