Carlsen heads live rating list

Medias King’s tournament earns a spot in chess world.

I STILL stand by my opinion that the Medias King’s tournament that ended in Romania last week wasn’t by far the most exciting chess event that I had been following recently, despite the presence of some heavyweights in Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Ukraine’s Vasily Ivanchuk.

But for a different reason, this tournament has earned its special position in today’s busy chess world.

Carlsen, by finishing this event, tied for first place with Russia’s Sergey Karyakin, regaining his position at the top of the unofficial chess live rating list, jumping over Viswanathan Anand. Anand, who is the world chess champion, had occupied the top live rating spot since last October.

The game played between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura.

The Norwegian grandmaster’s live rating now stands at 2820.8 points, which is 3.8 points more than Viswanathan’s current live rating of 2817. Before this Medias King’s event, Viswanathan had held a two-point cushion ahead of Carlsen.

Karyakin’s fantastic performance in this tournament also ensured that he would improve his live rating position as well.

In fact, Karyakin’s live rating increased by an impressive 12 points to 2788 points and this raised him from fifth to fourth position on the list, right behind Armenia’s Levon Aronian. This is an all-time high for the 21-year-old player who was once the youngest grandmaster in the world.

Last week, I offered you a game between Ivanchuk and Karyakin, a game where Karyakin’s irresistible attack tore through Ivanchuk’s defence. Today, there is another game from the Medias King’s tournament and this time, it is a game between Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura who is the top-ranked grandmaster in the United States.

Nakamura is an American citizen; his mother is American but his father is Japanese. He was born in Japan but at the age of two, the whole family moved to the United States. By the way, Nakamura’s number six on the live rating list.

So here is a game between Carlsen, 20, and Nakamura, 23, from the very first round of the Medias King’s tournament:

Magnus Carlsen – Hikaru Nakamura

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. Qc2 Bg4 (At first, this move looked a little strange to me as the bishop lands on a square where it doesn’t even threaten a non-existent knight on f3. Then as the game continued, it struck me that all along Black wanted to move his piece to g6.) 7. e3 Bh5 8. Bd3 Bg6 9. Bxg6 hxg6 10. O-O-O (With this move, White gives up the idea of a minority pawn attack on the queenside. Instead, with the black kingside pawns a little awkwardly positioned, White looks to attacking in that direction should Black chooses to castle kingside.)

10… Nf6 11. f3 Nbd7 12. Nge2 b5 (White gets ready to push with h2-h4-h5 on the kingside, but Black starts the fun first by committing to his own queenside pawn roll.) 13. e4 (However, White’s decision to seize the centre puts Black’s strategy immediately into some doubt.)

13… b4 14. Na4 dxe4 15. fxe4 Qa5 16. Kb1 O-O 17. h4 (Here it comes. After due preparation to safeguard his king, White commences with his own initiative against the black king. Question is, whose attack will prevail first: White or Black?)

17…Rfe8 18. e5 Nd5 19. h5 g5 (Of course, Black does not wish to open up the h-file for White.) 20. h6 g6 21. Bc1 N7b6 22. Nc5 Bxc5 23. dxc5 b3 24. Qxb3 Qxc5 (Black seems to have an attack going as well but he will always have to keep the white pawn on h6 under observation. It can turn dangerous any time.) 25. Nd4 (Temporarily sacrificing a pawn in order to place his knight on a better square.) 25…Rxe5 26. Nf3 Re2 27. Nxg5

(See diagram. Black looks active but I think it is only illusory. White is better. The h6 pawn will be the key to winning the game. Now, 27…Rxg2 is answered with 28. Nxf7) 27…Qe7 28. Qd3 Rf8 29. Rdf1 (This threatens 30…Rxf7 next.) 29… f5 30. g4 Na4 31. Qd4 Qe5 32. Qxe5 (White mustn’t be too greedy with 32.Qxa4 as the table will turn with 32…Nc3+) 32…Rxe5 33. gxf5 gxf5 34. Nf3 Re7 35.Rfg1+ Kh7 (If 35…Kh8, then 36.Nh4 will win material. Or White can also play 36.Rg7) 36. Rg7+ Kh8 37. Rhg1 Rfe8 38. Nh4 Rxg7 (And here, Black gives up. After 39.Rxg7, Black will have to meet the threat of 40.Ng6+ next.) 1-0

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