January 30, 2014 21:43

Carlsen & Aronian start with wins in Zurich

The two 2800s started with wins in the first round of the Zurich Chess Challenge. Magnus Carlsen defeated Boris Gelfand in an incredibly tactical queenless middlegame, while Levon Aronian won against Vishy Anand after 73 moves in an ending with a knight against two pawns. Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana drew a Grünfeld game after 67 moves.

Photos © Maria Emelianova

On Wednesday night Magnus Carlsen was still a bit rusty after not having played chess for almost two months. “It showed that I hadn't played for a long time. I couldn't make decisions. After a few moves I remembered how to play chess again,” said the World Champion today, after winning a fine game against Boris Gelfand.

In a Fianchetto Grünfeld Gelfand chose the solid move 4...c6, and then Carlsen avoided most of the theory with his queen sortie two moves later. Soon after the position became extremely interesting, despite an early queen trade. With 15.g4 Carlsen started a long series of tactics that eventually gave him a winning advantage.

“It was really just a very fun game. Lots of tactical and positional stuff and from move 15 it was all tactics on every move and this is fun, especially if you're calling the shots,” said Carlsen.

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Carlsen explaining his game, next to commentators IM Werner Hug & GM Yannick Pelletier

In an English Opening with Catalan tendencies, Vishy Anand made a big mistake on move 17 which was based on a calculation error. Then, to avoid getting into a cramped position, he took a good practical decision and sacrificed a piece for two pawns. The former World Champion got some chances to draw the game just before the time control, but didn't use them and then ended up in a very difficult ending.

Levon Aronian thought the game was heading towards a draw, but then, on move 41, he had enough time to dive into the position and indeed found a way to make progress.

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Levon Aronian

Vishy Anand

Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana drew a very tense and interesting game. The Italian seemed to have a slight advantage in the opening, but then gave it away and after some more inaccuracies he was worse. Nakamura won a pawn, but didn't think the ending was ever winning. “I was better for most of the game and that's certainly a good thing,” he said.

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Yannick Pelletier, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 | Pairings

Round 1 30 January 15:00 CET   Round 2 31 January 15:00 CET
Carlsen 1-0 Gelfand   Gelfand - Caruana
Aronian 1-0 Anand   Anand - Nakamura
Nakamura ½-½ Caruana   Carlsen - Aronian
Round 3 1 February 15:00 CET   Round 4 2 February 15:00 CET
Aronian - Gelfand   Gelfand - Anand
Nakamura - Carlsen   Carlsen - Caruana
Caruana - Anand   Aronian - Nakamura
Round 5 3 February 13:00 CET        
Nakamura - Gelfand        
Caruana - Aronian        
Anand - Carlsen        

Tomorrow the real tournament starts. Five rounds of classical chess will be played from Thursday to Monday (30 January to 3 February), followed by a rapid tournament with reversed colors on the last day (4 February). You can follow the live games here on the official website. 

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


the real thomaS3's picture

Amazing Magnus won! What an awesome performance against Gandalf! Now the tournament is psychologically decided! Wooooow!


Anand will win the candidates , He is just hiding preparation...........

Septimus's picture

If he keeps hiding his preparation he will be the first GM in the history of chess to fall to 1600. By the end of the year Anand will probably fall out of the top 50.

Anonymous's picture

Anand proved he was the best player in the World 2007-13 by being World Champion, he would keep doing it if he was motivated but has lost interest abit.


Carlsen kicked Gelfi out of top ten.

Remco G's picture

Wow, Carlsen's 15.g4 is not a move that I would come up with.

Anonymous's picture

g4 is a super move ! gelfand scratched his head for 30 minutes, and you could feel by studying the position that it would be hell on earth to keep up the fight going. Just incredible game !

Aronian put up a great show too, very strong moves


g4 was just Ragnarok

Calvin Amari's picture

From g4 it is an amazing game to analyze. A truly inspired game. The first game of Magnus's reign is as auspicious as one could have hoped.

Thomas Richter's picture

The first published game of Magnus' reign was his brilliant victory against Bill Gates.

Thomas Richter's picture

(Trying again, system hickup!?): The first published game of Magnus' reign was his brilliant victory against Bill Gates.

Anonymous's picture

"The first published game of Magnus' reign was his brilliant victory against Bill Gates"

That's the spirit!

Bronkenstein's picture

...and, speaking of statistics, his first FIDE rated (?) game should be that defeat by Caruana =)

Crow T Robot's picture

You seem surprised that the world champion saw a move that you didn't. Wow.

Remco G's picture

I've been playing and following this game for 25 years, I'm ~2000, I've seen quite some chess. It doesn't happen often that a move is as visually surprising to me as this one.

Anonymous's picture

Even the computers were surprised !!!

Thomas Richter's picture

Which computers were surprised? 15.g4 was the second line of Houdini, behind the more obvious 15.Ra5.

The Golden Knight's picture

Cant wait for Magnus-Lev tomorrow ;)

Roberto's picture

Will be probably a quick draw, due to their last games against each other. I think they respect each other too much to take risks.

NotthefakeDirk's picture

The state of play has changed. Aronian is being talked about as the next challanger and the psychological warfare has begun. His chess is of a far more vigourous brand than kramnik at this point so barring collusion, I don't see anyone else winning candidates. There is zero in it for carlsen not to press for a win if he gains an edge and aronian is known to make sub-opyimal moves to create opportunities for himself. Carlsen will punish him if he does. Aronian would love nothing more than to land a psychological blow by defeating magnus for the first time in years in a classical game. I think it will be a knock-down, drag-out fight.


Anand will win the candidates , He is just hiding preparation...........


The ever second do not stand a chance against the World Champion.

Agamemnon's picture

Incredible game from Carlsen. g4! and Nc2! were great moves, he really seems on form after warming up with three good games at the end of the blitz event yesterday.

Aronian played very well, can't wait for Carlsen-Aronian tomorrow. It will be the highest rated game in chess history! Aronian on form could be quite a challenge for Carlsen. I would not surprised if the final standings were the same as the blitz.

thekingman's picture

Indeed, not only the highest rated game, but the first ever game with a 2850+ rating average.

Morley's picture

Anand put up a very creative defense. He pieces were on the verge of creating counterplay for quite a while, but Aronian was simply too strong. A nice game from Lev, he is beginning to look like the clear favorite in the Candidates.

What to say about Carlsen-Gelfand? Carlsen is simply the strongest player in the world, at the peak of his powers. A beautiful game.

Naka and Caru put in a good game as well. I am pleasantly surprised at the amount fight in the games so far. A feature of shorter round robins? These guys seem eager to play.

Torpedo's picture

Do you think Magnus is at his peak? Or do you think he can get even stronger over the next 3-5 years?

Bronkenstein's picture

I wouldn´t exclude the peak option.

Anonymous's picture

Anand and Gelfand continue not to care about ratings.

NotthefakeDirk's picture

The can enter smaller events and farm rating points if they want. Its just about playing good moves at this point. Gelfand appears to be out of form and Anand does as well but it could all change tomorrow.

S4's picture

Carlsen was just lucky when Gelfand blundered on move... eh move 1.- g6 I think

malper's picture

It is really to peak move as a mistake in Gelfand's play. He played natural and decent moves. To me, he did not make any blunders at all. It was all about very tiny inaccuracies accumulating move by move after g4. This is the annoying dimension of MC's play. Additionally he appears to be super-sharp in tactics. The last time I remember MC blundering was his game against Giri in Wijk aan Zee. MC's reign may last longer than Kasparov's if MC manages to keep his motivation high.

Sulotas's picture

Tomorrow we are treated by the 'El Clasico of Chess': Magnus the Merciless vs. Levon the Clinical. If Levon wins (it is quite a bit unlikely 'if' though - by the way why does Levon always have to play the black side against Magnus?) he will be quite close to Magnus in live ratings and I believe this will be a good thing for the chess world.

Anonymous's picture

"If Levon wins (it is quite a bit unlikely 'if' though - by the way why does Levon always have to play the black side against Magnus?) he will be quite close to Magnus in live ratings"

Why does Levon always have black against Carlsen? What kind of question is that? Aronian had white in four of the six games they played last year. Nakamura, on the other hand, plays his eighth black in a row against Anand. As for Aronian being quite close to Carlsen if he wins, well, he would still be 35 points behind.

mickey's picture

Carlsen-Aronian tomorrow will be the highest rated game ever in chess-history, - Elo 5.705,9 in live-rating !

NN's picture

Aronian's short-term target is to get his rating to 2852, so what better chance to improve it than with a victory against the highest rated player in the world

Andy's picture

Poor Anand..... as predicted

Anonymous's picture

What is it with you and Anand?

Andy's picture

I have nothing against Anand.
I'm just objective.
The guy is over his peak. That's all.
People can praise him like he is god, and think this is still the Anand of the 90s...well, he's not. Sorry.
The 90s were 20 years ago. Times change.

Roberto's picture

Yes, all the evidences points to this. Which is a really sad constatation. I would like to see him playing brilliantly again in a tournament.

Anonymous's picture

Sadly also I think Chucky is probably leaving the top for good. He has fought his way back before, but I don't expect to see him back in the top seven or eight in the world again.

Anonymous's picture

We all understand this, but it is up to him to decide when he wants to retire. And we can enjoy the last few days/months/years of his being around instead of constantly being negative about him and his play. My point is, let's just try to be positive about everyone and not be pointedly personal in our comments. Our criticism here is not going to change his mind!

Anonymous's picture

Anand did not play bad.

Paul's picture

Anand is in it for the money but why is Tiviakov not commentating..i miss him!

English Breakfast's picture

Anand is just hiding preparation....

Anonymous's picture

No neutral and objective insights on Carlsen's game from T.O.?

Anonymous's picture

Yes. All luck. Plus, Magnus just out-sat Gelfand. S3 also notes that Magnus was also cheating. And of course, both maintain that the Earth is flat as a pancake.

Thomas Richter's picture

As you ask ... : I was busy all day long yesterday, 9AM to 11PM, with other things - my paid job, physical sports (running) and local sports politics (a meeting related to the upcoming local elections) - so I could hardly follow the round in Zurich. From a casual look at Carlsen's game, it looks like a good creative effort. Good for him and good for chess that he can also play such games.

I liked the atmosphere on this forum during Wijk aan Zee: With Carlsen and Anand absent, there were few comments from overly zealous Carlsen fans and Anand haters.With Nakamura having a "lousy tournament" (Kasparov's answer to my question at the press conference), Nakamura fans also kept a low profile. Now we again get comments like the very first one in this thread, or like Anonymous' response to Anonymous ... .

Anonymous's picture

"I liked the atmosphere on this forum during Wijk aan Zee: With Carlsen and Anand absent, there were few comments from overly zealous Carlsen fans and Anand haters"

Luckily there are no Carlsen haters, only overly zealous fans and objective neutrals like you and S3.

Anonymous's picture

" a good creative effort " ??? This game is a jewel, a Diamond.

Anonymous's picture

You have so many responsabilities T.R that one could easily think you are running for the next US presidential elections...


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