Written by: Emadeldin Teama
Today we are going to review Game six. This is going to be a very challenging task as this game is long and full of ideas!. This is the first decisive game in the world championship match and a masterpiece of endgame play from Carlsen. Let’s dive into it!
The game started with Carlsen playing white and Nepomniachtchi playing black. White opened the game with 1-d4 aiming for a more closed and rich position the game proceeded as follow
1-…Nf6 2-.Nf3 d5 3-g3 e6 4-Bg2 Be7 5-o-o o-o 6-b3 c5 7-dxc5 Bxc5 8-c4 dxc4 9-Qc2 interesting play from Carlsen. The previous moves were completely direct and black here achieved equality. Carlsen wants to play chess here instead of just theory/memorization game.
9-..Qe7 10-Nbd2!? A fine pawn sacrifice that wasn’t played before according to my chessbase mega 2020. White would get a lot of compensation for the pawn sacrificed in the spirit of the Benko gambit style without any counter play from black side. White is also ahead in development and the pressure on b7 would be unbearable . that is why Nepomniachtchi chose to ignore this sacrifice and played a development move .
10-Nc6!? Nxc4 b5?!
The engine might say it is the best move but we are going to head back to the basic chess strategy. We all learnt not to provoke weakness in the side of the board you are weaker. In this position white has so many pieces looking at the queenside and it can prove to be dangerous!
12-Nce5 Nb4 13-Qb2 Bb7 14-a3 Nc6 15-Nd3 Bb6 16-Bg5 very natural play from white. All Carlsen pieces are now in the game and he has no weaknesses. He also have good control over e5 square and open d and c files. Most likely white should put the rooks on open files and try to create some pressure over the queenside.
16- .. Rfd8 17-Bxf6!? A commiting move. White gives up the bishop pair to destroy black structure. Black also chose to keep the the queens on board with simply 17-…gxf6
18-Rac1 Nd4 19-Nxd4 Bxd4 Exchanging is in white favor very slightly. Now white has a chance to immediately exchange the light square bishops . taking a way one advantage from black and heading for an endgame with slightly better structure .
20-Qa2 Bxg2 21-Kg2 Qb7+ 22-Kg1 Qe4 23-Qc2 a5!? 24-Rfd1 Kg7 25-Rd2!? Interesting choice, white wanna keep his options opened and he prepares to double on d or maybe triple on c file!
25-…Rac8?! That is a dangerous decision. Materially speaking, white will lose queen for two rooks so he will lose 9 points for 10 points which means it is like giving up a pawn for black. GM Ian doesn’t wanna a draw.However, this would lead to totally unbalanced game without any clear outcome.
26-Qxc8! Rxc8 27-Rxc8 Qd5 White took on the challenge! A new struggle emerges that would last for 8 hours!.
28-b4- a4!? Black believes in his position so much. He wants to keep all pawns on the board to keep his winning potential. However, white is more than fine here and it will be shown on the next moves!
29-e3 Be5? Missed a tactical opportunity of Bb2! This move would have been a disaster for Carlsen .it is very hard to keep the pawn on a3 now an example of a variation would be (30-Rc5!? Qd6 31-Rxb5 Bxa3 with a very dangerous position for white. We all know that the a and h pawns are the worst for a knight and here it would be difficult for white to defend. )
Luckly for carlsen ,Ian missed this chance to make life hard for him, after blacks move 29-..Be5?
30-h4? Again the Bb2 move is available
31-Kh2 Bb2 now it is kinda too late!
32-Rc5 Qd6 33-Rd1? A mistake a simple (Rxb2 Qxd3 Ra2 Qb3 Rcc2 ensures complete equality like in the below position)
However, in time trouble the game continued as the following after the 33-Rd1
33-…Bxa3 34-Rxb5 Qd7 35-Rc5 e5 36-Rc2 Qd5?? Black missed the very simple Bxb4!? The knight is pinned! Black would have an outside passed pawn and prospects of winning perhaps!
37-Rdd2 Qb3 38-Ra2 e4?! Too ambitious.
39-Nc5 Qxb4 40.Nxe4?! well it is the 40th move which is the peak of time trouble before white gets extra time on his clock. It is understandable that white goes for the simplifications however 40-Rdc2 puts the queen and bishop in terrible situation for example (40-..f5!? 41-Nxa4! Qxa4 42-Rc3 then there is no way for black to play for a win anymore. In fact he must be careful not to lose this position due to his bad pawn structure ).
40-..Qb3 41-Rac2 Bf8 42-Nc5 Qb5 43-Nd3 a3 44-Nf4 here white has complete equality . the a2 square is completely under his control. The knight on f4 has a nice outpost and there is no progress.
44-..Qa5 45-Ra2 Bb4 46 Rd3 a new game of stamina appears here. This position is balanced and equal. However, carlsen will show great focus and stamina in the next 100 moves!!!!!!!!
46-..Kh6 47-Rd1 Qa4 48 Rda1 Bd6 49-Kg1. The plan is extremely simple. White will move the king back and forth no progress can be done. Exchanging bishop for knight results in black losing his key pawn on a3 that keeps his drawing chances. Ian should have offered a draw here!
49-…Qb3 50-Ne2! Qd3 51-Nd4 improving his knight position to a central square
51-..Kh7 52-Kh2 Qe4a risky decision to give up the a pawn!
53-Rxa3 Qxh4+ ( if 53-..Bxa3 Rxa3 and only white is playing for a win here!!!)
54-Kg1 Qe4 55-Ra4. Now let’s look at this position deeply. Let’s understand white achievements so far in such position
White achieved a great progress getting rid of the passed a pawn without even losing exchange. The remaining pawns are all on the same side of the board. White is the only one playing for win here. This is true due to the fact that white has a better pawn structure and black has his 3 pawns isolated, doubled and weak. The next moves will show why Carlsen is the best player in the world .
55-..Be5 56.Ne2! a discovered attack on the Queen!
56-.. Qc2 57.R1a2 Qb3 58.Kg2 Qd5+ 59.f3 Qd1 60.f4!? kicking the enemy bishop from a centeral square. The next moves shows absolute great stamina for the world champion
60-..Bc7 61.Kf2 Bb6 62.Ra1 Qb3 63.Re4 Kg7 64.Re8 f5 65.Raa8 Qb4 66.Rac8 Ba5 67.Rc1 Bb6 68.Re5 Qb3 69.Re8 Qd5 70.Rcc8? White made a mistake allowing infiltration with the queen to the h1 square. This can lead to a draw by repeating of checks!!
71.Rc1!! quickly realizing his mistake Carlsen repeat the position!
71-..Qd5 72.Rb1 Ba7 73.Re7 Bc5 74.Re5 Qd3 75.Rb7 Qc2 76.Rb5 Ba7 77.Ra5 Bb6 78.Rab5 Ba7 79.Rxf5 Qd3
Carlsen realized there is no progress that can be done with this dark square bishop pressuring his kingside so he goes for this tactical trick !
80.Rxf7+ Kxf7 81.Rb7+ Kg6 82.Rxa7 we will stop the analysis here.
In this position white made huge progress as he got rid of all black potentials and he has 3 pawns against 1 and 2 passed pawns. This position is hopeless for black because the knight is a great defender and it will be so hard to find some sort of perpetual checks. You can check in the link below how did carlsen convert this great position into a full point.
Here is the full game:
GM Ian wont just give up the world championship by losing one game. We are sure that he will go all in in the next rounds to have a chance to be a world champion! Carlsen showed here an outstanding technique .However ,we are sure Ian has his own deep preparations that he would have to use now in order to equalize the score.
After 6 rounds of chess and 5 draws we get a one decisive result.We look forward to the next games and we are sure they are going to be exciting and full of aggressive chess!