World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen has won the inaugural Sinquefield Chess Cup in Saint Louis a full point ahead of the field of star Grandmasters like Levon Aronian, Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura. Here is the last-round game in which both Carlsen and Aronian offered a draw to each other at various points and both rejected the offer to play on. Eventually, Carlsen won. All annotations are by Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian (official website). Read a report on Chess Blog.


Carlsen – Aronian

Result: 1-0
Site: Saint Louis
Date: 2013.09.15
[…] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 No surprise here. Aronian decided to play his main opening that he knows the best in this must-win game. 4.♗a4 ♘f6 5.O-O ♗e7 6.♖e1 b5 7.♗b3 O-O 8.a4 Carlsen is not interested in allowing the Marshall Gambit. (8.c3 d5 9.exd5 ♘xd5 10.♘xe5 ♘xe5 11.♖xe5) 8…b4 9.d4 d6 10.dxe5 In the round 1 game vs. Nakamura in the same exact position, Aronian played 10…Nxe5 10…dxe5 11.♕xd8 ♖xd8 12.♘bd2 h6 13.a5 ♗c5 14.♗c4 ♘g4 15.♖e2 ♗e6 Excellent move after which black equalizes. It’s very important for black to exchange white’s strong light-squared bishop. 16.♗xe6 fxe6 17.h3 ♘f6 18.♖e1 Most natural reply white; needs to protect the 1st rank and move the d2 knight without allowing black to enter on d1 (18.g3 ♖ab8 19.♔g2 ♖b5 20.♘b3 This is about an equal position ) 18…♖ab8 19.♘c4
19.♘b3 ♖b5 20.♗d2 ♗d4 21.♖a2 ♘d7 22.♔f1 ♖db8 it’s very slightly better for black but shouldn’t be that much with correct play from white.
19…♖b5
Also possible to play 19…♗d4 20.♗e3 ♖b5 21.♗xd4 exd4 22.b3 e5 23.♖e2 d3 24.cxd3 ♖xd3 black has a big advantage
20.b3 ♗d4 21.♗b2
If 21.♘xd4 exd4 22.♗b2 ♘d7 23.f4 ♘c5 black is better due to the idea of d3!
21…♖c5 Threatening to play Rxc4
21…♗xb2 22.♘xb2 ♖xa5 23.♖xa5 ♘xa5 24.♖a1 winning the a6 pawn with a slight advantage for white
22.♖a2
22.♗xd4 exd4 23.♖ad1 e5 24.♖e2 ♘e8 25.♘e1 ♘d6 26.♘d3 ♖b5 27.♘xd6 cxd6 black is slightly better
22…♗xb2 23.♖xb2 ♘e8 Transferring the knight on d6 24.♖a2 ♘d6 25.♘fd2 ♘b7
Better plan is 25…♘b5 26.♔f1 ♘c3 27.♖aa1 ♘d4 and black is clearly better with two very active knights c3 and d4
26.♘f3 ♔f7 27.♔f1 ♔f6 28.♖a4 ♘bxa5
Better would have been to come back to d6 28…♘d6 29.♘fd2 ♘b5 30.♖aa1 ♘a3 black is much better
29.♘e3 even though black is up a pawn, the knight on a5 is placed very awkwardly and he cannot make progress 29…h5 30.♖ea1 ♖d4 31.♘e1
31.♘xd4 exd4 32.♘c4 (32.♘d1 d3 33.cxd3 ♘xb3 34.♖1a2 a5) 32…♘xc4 33.bxc4 ♖xc4 34.♖xa6 ♖xc2 black is winning
31…♔e7
31…♖xe4 32.♘d3 ♖b5 33.c4 ♘xb3 34.cxb5 axb5 (34…♘xa1 35.bxc6) 35.♖a6 ♘xa1 36.♖xc6 white has a big edge
32.f3 ♖d2 33.♖d1 (33.♘d3 ♖xd3 34.cxd3 ♘xb3 black is much better ) 33…♖d6 (33…♖xd1 34.♘xd1 ♖b5 35.♘d3 g6 36.h4) 34.♖da1 ♔d7 35.♘d1 ♖d2 36.♘f2 ♔c8 37.♘fd3 ♖b5 38.h4 (38.♘xb4 ♖xb4 39.♖xb4 ♘xb4 40.♖xa5 ♘xc2 41.♘xc2 ♖xc2 42.♖xa6) 38…♔b7 39.♖1a2 white is just waiting to see what is black going to do. 39…♔a7
39…♔a7 40.♔g1 ♔b6 41.♔f1 g6 42.♔g1 ♔b7
42…♘d4 43.♘xb4
43.♖xb4 ♘e2+ 44.♔h2 ♘c3 45.♖a1 ♘c6 46.♖c4 ♘d1 47.♖xa6+ ♔xa6 48.♖xc6+ ♖b6 49.♖xc7
43.♔f1 ♔c8 44.♘f2 ♖d8 after this move black is suddenly worse. If he keeps the rook on d2, then the game should end in a draw. 45.♘ed3 ♔b7 46.♔e2 ♔b6
46…♘d4+ 47.♔d2 ♘axb3+ 48.cxb3 ♘xb3+ 49.♔c2 ♘d4+ 50.♔b2 c5 51.♘xe5 winning for white
47.♔e3 ♔b7 48.♘d1
48.♘h3 ♖e8 49.♘g5 ♖e7 50.♔d2 ♖e8 51.♔c1 ♖e7 52.♔b2 ♖e8 53.♖a1 ♖e7 54.g4 White is slightly better
48…♔c8 49.♘1b2 ♖d6
49…♔d7 50.♘c4 ♘xc4+ 51.bxc4 ♖b6 (51…♖bb8 52.♖xa6) 52.♖xa6 ♖xa6 53.♖xa6 ♖b8 54.♘c5+ ♔d6 55.♘xe6 b3 56.cxb3 ♖xb3+ 57.♔f2
50.♖a1 ♔d8 (50…♘d4 51.♖c1 (51.♖xa5 ♘xc2+ 52.♔e2 ♘xa1 53.♖xa1)) 51.♘c4 ♘xc4+ 52.bxc4 ♖b8 53.c5 ♖d7 (53…♖xd3+ 54.♔xd3 a5 55.♔c4) 54.♖xa6 b3
54…♘d4 55.♖1a2
55.♖a8 ♘xc2+ (55…♖xa8 56.♖xa8+ ♔e7 57.♘xb4) 56.♔d2 ♘xa1 57.♖xb8+ ♔e7 58.♖xb4
55.♖xc6 bxc2 56.♘e1 Final touch
Also winning 56.♖xe6 ♖b1 (56…♖xd3+ 57.♔xd3 ♖b1 58.♔xc2 ♖xa1 59.♖xg6 with a winning rook endgame ) 57.♖a8+ ♖b8 58.♖xb8#
(56.♘c1) 56…♔e7 57.♘xc2 ♖b3+ 58.♔e2 ♖b2 59.♖c1 ♖a2 60.♔e3 ♔f7 61.f4 ♔f6 62.fxe5+ ♔xe5 63.♘e1 ♖a3+ 64.♔f2 ♖d2+ 65.♔f1 ♖d7 66.♘f3+ ♔f4 67.♖xe6 g5 68.hxg5 ♔g3 69.♖f6 ♖a2 70.♘e5
39…♖d1 40.♔e2 ♖b1 41.♔d2 ♖xb3 42.cxb3 ♘xb3+ 43.♔e3 a5 44.♘c2 ♘cd4 45.♘xd4 exd4+ 46.♔f2 c5 47.♘e5 white is winning
40.♔g1 ♔b6 41.♔f1 g6 42.♔g1 ♔b7 (42…♘d4 43.♔f1 ♘dc6 44.♔g1) 43.♔f1 ♔c8 44.♘f2 ♖d8 after this move black is suddenly worse if; he keeps the rook on d2, then the game should end in a draw. 45.♘ed3 ♔b7 46.♔e2 ♔b6
46…♘d4+ 47.♔d2 ♘axb3+ 48.cxb3 ♘xb3+ 49.♔c2 ♘d4+ 50.♔b2 c5 51.♘xe5 winning for white
47.♔e3 ♔b7 48.♘d1
48.♘h3 ♖e8 49.♘g5 ♖e7 50.♔d2 ♖e8 51.♔c1 ♖e7 52.♔b2 ♖e8 53.♖a1 ♖e7 54.g4 White is slightly better
48…♔c8 49.♘1b2 ♖d6
49…♔d7 50.♘c4 ♘xc4+ 51.bxc4 ♖b6 (51…♖bb8 52.♖xa6) 52.♖xa6 ♖xa6 53.♖xa6 ♖b8 54.♘c5+ ♔d6 55.♘xe6 b3 56.cxb3 ♖xb3+ 57.♔f2
50.♖a1 ♔d8 51.♘c4 ♘xc4+ 52.bxc4 ♖b8 53.c5 ♖d7
53…♖xd3+ best defense but a very un-human move 54.♔xd3 a5 55.♔c4
54.♖xa6 b3
54…♘d4 55.♖1a2
55.♖a8 ♘xc2+ (55…♖xa8 56.♖xa8+ ♔e7 57.♘xb4) 56.♔d2 ♘xa1 57.♖xb8+ ♔e7 58.♖xb4
55.♖xc6 bxc2 56.♘e1 Diagram [#] Final touch
Also winning 56.♖xe6 ♖b1
56…♖xd3+ 57.♔xd3 ♖b1 58.♔xc2 ♖xa1 59.♖xg6 white is up two pawns with a winning rook endgame
57.♖a8+ ♖b8 58.♖xb8#
56…♔e7 57.♘xc2 ♖b3+ 58.♔e2 ♖b2 59.♖c1 ♖a2 60.♔e3 ♔f7 61.f4 ♔f6 62.fxe5+ ♔xe5 63.♘e1 ♖a3+ 64.♔f2 ♖d2+ 65.♔f1 ♖d7 66.♘f3+ ♔f4 67.♖xe6 g5 68.hxg5 ♔g3 69.♖f6 ♖a2 70.♘e5 Great endgame technique by Carlsen at the end, and he wins the tournament by a full point