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Will it be 1. d4, 1. e4, 1. Nf3, 1. c4, or something else? 🙂 Are you ready?
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1. d4 Nf6 Judit and Vachier-Lagrave voted for 1…Nf6. Technical difficulty with Nakamura’s first move but he finally chose 1…f5.
2. c4 Lagrave and Nakamura voted for 1…g6 but Judit chose 1…e6.
2…g6 The World chose 2…g6 by 51%-49% over 1…e6.
3. Nf3 Magnus quickly played this move.
3…Bg7 was a unanimous choice by all 3 players.
4. g3 Magnus chose to go into a solid continuation. This is a wise idea as he knows that some fans at home are armed with computer software. Therefore, it may not be wise to get into sharp crazy stuff. Lagrave and Judit voted for 4…0-0 while Nakamura chose 4…d6
4…0-0 The World chose this one.
5. Bg2 Now Judit and Nakamura chose 5…d6 while Lagrave suggested 5…c6
5…d6 The World chose the majority choice.
6. Nc3 Judit, Lagrave and Nakamura all took their time suggesting this move.
6…Nc6 7. 0-0 Now Judit recommended 7…e5 while Lagrave and Nakamura chose 7…a6.
7…e5 The World chose to go with Judit’s recommendation over Nakamura and Lagrave! Even though 7…a6 is a more popular choice, 7…e5 may be a better choice against Magnus.
8. d5 Ne7 was a unanimous choice.
9. e4 Lagrave chose 9…Nd7, Nakamura chose 9…c6 and Judit chose 9….Ne8
9…c6 This is not a great choice. 9…Ne8 or 9…Nd7 (played by Ivanchuk vs Kasparov) are both superior choices in my opinion.
10. a4 A surprising choice by Magnus. Judit recommends 10…Ne8, Lagrave 10…a5 and Nakamura 10…Bg4.
10…Bg4 Another unusual choice, quite suspicious. It does not make sense in the normal scope of this opening. Another very surprising choice. The problem with this move is 11.h3 and Black either has to move the Bishop back or trade the Bishop which is not a great idea.
11. a5 Judit and Lagrave chose 11…cxd5 while Nakamura chose 11…Qd7.
11…cxd5 Now the only competent response is 12…cxd5.
12. cxd5 Nakamura and Lagrave chose 12…Qd7 while Judit chose 12…Ne8. I personally prefer 12…Rc8
12…Qd7 Magnus has a decent space advantage for the moment.
13. Be3 A logical move. I do not like Black’s position at all. Black has no real counter attack chances as White’s position is solid. Judit recommends 13…Nh5 while Lagrave and Nakamura chose 13…Rfc8. I like Judit’s recommendation. I believe that 13…Rfc8 is an inferior option.
13…Rfc8 14. Qa4 Exchanging Queens would favor White in the endgame. Judit recommends 14…Qd8 to avoid exchanging Queens while Lagrave recommends 14…Ne8. It seems that Nakamura is taking a time out. This plan recommended by Nakamura does not seem to work out for the World for the moment. Magnus has a strong edge in this endgame.
14…Ne8 White is better in space and piece placement.
15. Nd2 I am very surprised that the World got into a messy inferior position this quickly. Both Lagrave and Judit recommends 15…Qd8 while Nakamura picked 15…Nc7. It seems that the World GMs are quite frustrated at this moment. They know that they are in trouble.
15…Qd8 Now 16. Nc4 basically enhances White’s advantage. 16. Qb4 is also very good.
16. Qb4 Nakamura and Judit recommend 16…Nc7 while Lagrave chose 16…Bd7. 16…Nc7 is bad because Black is completely lost after 17. h3 The problem is the World keep mixing choices between the recommendation of the 3 GMs. This does not work. The World has to pick one plan and go with it. Mixing things up will lead to a disastrous result.
17. Nc4? Magnus missed the best move 17. h3!
17….Na6 18. Qxb7 The position is quite lost for the World. Lagrave and Judit recommend 18…Nc5 while Nakamura picked 18…Rxc4.
18…Rxc4 19. Qxa6 Judit and Lagrave chose 19…Rb4. Nakamura is still thinking.
19…Rb4 20. f3 IMHO, 20…Bc8 is the only move.
20…Bc8 21. Qe2 White is still better. A pawn is a pawn. However, the World is lucky to duck 17. h3 which would have given White a decisive advantage. Judit and Nakamura chose 21…f5 while Lagrave picked 21…Qd7.
21…f5 22. Qd2 Now 22…f4 may be the best shot for counter playing chances. Judit and Nakamura recommended 22…Ba6 while Lagrave chose 22…f4. I like 22…f4 a little better.
22…Ba6 Now I would think that Magnus will play 23. Rfc1.
23. Rc1 Judit and Lagrave chose 23…Qd7 while Nakamura picked 23…Qb8. I think 23…Qd7 is a better move to prevent 24. Na4.
23…Qb8 24. Na4 Judit and Lagrave chose 24…Rb3.
24…Rb3 The logical choice for White now is to exchange Rook and simplify the position with 25. Rc3.
25. Rc3 My choice is 25…Rb4. Judit and Nakamura also picked 25…Rb4 while Lagrave chose 25…f4.
25…Rb4 26. Rca3 A very interesting move. White is threatening Nb6! One of the problems for Black is the move 23…Qb8. The other Rook belongs on b8 and not the Queen. Judit and Lagrave recommended 26…f4 while Nakamura chose 26…Rb7. If 26…f4 27. gxf4 exf4 28. Bxf4 Rd4 29. Qc1 +/-
26…f4 Another very strong option for White is 27. Nb6 fxe3 28. Qxb4+/-. Without much time, only 60 seconds, the safest choice may be 27. Bf2.
27. Bf2 A safer but slightly inferior choice to 27. Nb6. Nakamura recommends 27…Bh6, Lagrave 27..fxg3, Judit 27…Rb7. I would go with Nakamura’s choice here.
27…Bh6 However, 28. g4 and Black has almost nothing here. Magnus has called for extra time here, an extra 2 minutes.
28. Nb6 Magnus wants to end this with a bang. But 28. g4 is a wiser move. White is still better.
28…fxg3 29. Qxb4 +- This is now hopeless for the World.
29…gxf2 30. Kxf2 Lagrave recommended 30…Bf4, Nakamura 30…Bc8, Judit 30…axb6.
30…Bc8 Now 31. Rb3 and the game is simply over. Black has no chance to defend this position.
31. Rb3 axb6 32. Qxb6 The position is resignable for Black. Judit and Nakamura picked 32…Qa7 while Lagrave chose 32…Qxb6.
32…Qa7 33. a6 Magnus can smell the sweet victory now. Black has absolutely no real counter play in this position. There is practically no chance for Magnus to blow this game now.
33…Kf7 34. Qxa7 Rxa7 35. Rb6 Ke8 Another free pawn is coming with 36. Rxd6.
36. Rxd6 Bf8 Magnus can simply continue with 37. b4
37. Rb6 Good but not as good 37. b4
37…Nxd5 Now 38. Rb8 Bc5+ 39. Kg3 Ne7 40. Bh3 Bd6 41. Rxc8+ Nxc8 42. Bxc8and White is 2 pawns up with Bishop opposite color endgame. However, Black has no chance to defend this.
38. Rb8 Bc5+ 39. Kg3 They are following the suggested line above.
39…Ne7 40. Bh3 Kd8 Now 41. Bxc8 Nxc8 42. Rc1 +-
41. Bxc8 Nxc8 42. Rc1 Rc7 and now 43. Rxc5!! and Black should resign as 43…Rxc5 44. a7!
43. Rxc5! Rxc5 44. a7 +- The world resigns! A dominating performance by Magnus!