Reports | October 01, 2009 22:12

Carlsen strikes again, increases lead even further

Nanjing r4Using Kasparov's favourite defence against Jakovenko's 1.e4, Carlsen won his third game today, with the black pieces. The Norwegian increased his lead at the Pearl Spring Grand Slam tournament in Nanjing to 1.5 points as both Radjabov-Topalov and Wang Yue-Leko ended in a draw.

The 2nd Pearl Spring tournament takes place September 27 - October 9 in Nanjing, China. It's a 6-player, double round-robin with Topalov (2813), Carlsen (2772), Leko (2762), Radjabov (2757), Jakovenko (2742) and Wang Yue (2736) playing for a € 250,000 prize fund. The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes plus 1 hour.

Round 4

We should be careful with already fetching those superlatives and statistics, but it's a fact that Magnus Carlsen leads the Pearl Spring tournament with 3.5/4, that his performance rating is 3101, that he has passed Levon Aronian on the live rating list (see the right column on this site) and that he's just 1.4 points behind Vishy Anand now. Similar scenarios could be seen during Bilbao 2008, so let's keep it with this, await what the rest of the tournament will bring us, and just enjoy the chess, which has been very enjoyable indeed.

In his round 4 game, Carlsen foremost and once more showed his will to win. He seemed to feel at home in yet another Kasparov favourite, the Sicilian Najdorf, and equalized comfortably. Jakovenko came under long-term pressure after an inaccuracy on move 24 which allowed the activation of the black bishop, but with one move in timetrouble (33...Bxe3?) Carlsen spoilt his carefully constructed advantage.

Nanjing r4

For a moment things looked very bad for Black, but the young Norwegian impressively adjusted to the sudden change of events, quickly tossing out the only defence 36...Re6 and 37...Bg5, and after a small mistake by Jakovenko on the infamous 40th move, Carlsen was slightly better again after the time control. He kept on putting his opponent under pressure, to which the solid Russian grandmaster eventually succumbed. The ending with bishop and extra pawn versus knight was winning remarkably easy.

Wang Yue-Leko wasn't very interesting but the other drawn game, Radjabov-Topalov, contained about as much drama. The Bulgarian was happy to enter the complications of the Scotch opening, but after about 17 moves it turned out that his preparation hadn't been 100% succesful. Radjabov was enjoying a slight advantage when Topalov miscalculated with 19...d5, which in the game lost a pawn, but could have led to a quick defeat if Radjabov had changed the move order.

Still, it seems that the Azeri was winning anyway at some point (the very accurate 35.Ka3! leaves Black defenceless) but Topalov miraculously escaped with a draw thanks to 39...Bf5! which dominated (and caught) White's knight. The ensuing ending probably cannot be won by White.

Games round 4

Game viewer by ChessTempo

2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Round 4 Standings
2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Schedule & results
2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

Nanjing r4

A wonderful start for Magnus Carlsen, and it could have been even better!

Nanjing r4

Dmitry Jakovenko was today's victim

Nanjing r4

Veselin Topalov, still seeking his top form, escaping against...

Nanjing r4

...Teimour Radjabov, still enjoying the Scotch

Nanjing r4

Peter Leko scored an easy draw against...

Nanjing r4

...local hero Wang Yue

Photos provided by the tournament organizers


Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


vooruitgang's picture

Also agree with with Harish.

The games are very instructive and not boring at all. Magnus is on a roll. Can he be stopped? Maybe...maybe not. Will Radjabov play the KID against him? Great stuff and yes, thank you Vibes for the great reports and photos. The jackets the players wear are much better this year!

And if you have the urge to complain just think how much you would miss these reports if they were not presented.

ClammyHamster's picture

In my humble opinion there are too many draws in chess tournaments. Look at SPICE cup, a great tournament but Yuri Kuzubov won with only 1 win and and a total of 8 draws. I think they should give 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw, that way the winner would be the crowd favorite, Jon Ludvig Hammer, who fought to win every game. We are rewarding laziness and apathy instead of spirit and guts.

JustBe's picture

Carlsen could have won them all!!!

Lyra's picture

The result does not tell you how exciting the game was. Surely Radjabov-Topalov was more exciting than many decisive games are. It is not as if all of the non-Carlsen games are just short draws, though surely with a field including Leko, Jakovenko, and Wang you would expect a lot of safe games.

sergio's picture

1.5 point clear. We don't see that often on this chess level.

evanhaut's picture

Carlsen has developed a keen eye for Zugzwangs. His ability to steer them positions towards the big Z is absolutely amazing.

Bert de Bruut's picture

In four games Carlsen has diminished the gap to Topalov with some 22 points. Now he is just 18 points short to close it, with six games remaining....

Meppie's picture

In some way it's a boring tournament. Carlsen wins almost all his games, the rest plays draw. Just look at the crosstable. When does the fight start?!

milan kovacs's picture

I agree with Meppie. Frankly, somebody should stop this guy :)

unknown's picture

Most of draws were interesting. No boredom so far.

Go Carlsparov!

Harish Srinivasan's picture

"In some way it’s a boring tournament. Carlsen wins almost all his games, the rest plays draw. Just look at the crosstable. When does the fight start?!"

Its amazing, some people always search and find something to complain about.

It has been a great tournament so far and thanks chessvibes for the very quick report and analysis of all the games.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I agree with Harish.

Thanks to chessvibes for these great reports and pictures.

Jan's picture

Again, what is wrong with laziness?

Pam's picture

We really miss Kasparov but Magnus is now "the big hope" for chess!

nalk's picture

i expect things to heat up in the second half when jet-lag has worn off

sergio's picture

And another win for Carlsen. In which round shall he be the official winner?

Latest articles