Risky chess from Magnus Carlsen backfires badly against Arkadij Naiditsch

Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen is known for playing it safe in the opening then going for the jugular in the middle game and endgame through a slow and patient technique that includes accumulating small positional advantages. Many super grandmasters have succumbed time and time against Carlsen this way.  However in the recent game against Arkadij Naidij at the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden Baden, Germany, Carlsen threw caution to the wind, abandoned his tried and trusted strategy and engaged in some very risky play right in the opening where he sacrificed his bishop for two pawns for very little compensation if any. This led to a very interesting game but the experiment in the end did not turn out well for the world champion. It backfired badly.

Carlsen blundered with his sacrifice again Naiditsch at the Grenke Chess Classic. Playing on the black side against 1. e4 Carlsen showed clear intent with his response of 1. g6. This kind of opening leads to asymmetrical and unbalanced positions which increases the chances of a decisive outcome in favour of either side. Such a sacrifice might have worked well in a blitz or bullet chess but certainly not a classical game against a very strong grandmaster the calibre of Naiditsch.

It would appear that Carlsen’s defensive play or his play as black lately has been a little suspect especially against d4, never mind the fact that he was on a 6 game winning streak in the previous tournament. In his World Championship Match against Vishwanathan Anand, Carlsen showed unusual vulnerability.

Since Carlsen sacrificed his bishop on g4 in the game against the German Grandmasetr the evaluation of the game based on Engines changed significantly showing an advantage for White from an equal evaluation. Looking at the game it does not appear certain where Carlsen was hoping to get counter play because White seemed to have both Kingside and Queenside covered. Black seems to be lacking harmony in his pieces. Though White’s King was in the centre for a long time there were very few threats from Carlsen. Typically Carlsen would claw his way back in the endgame but he was uncharacteristically unable to convert and lost again to Naiditsch.

Below is the game. Hope you enjoy it!

Bruce Mubayiwa

I am the founder and editor of Africa Chess Net. I have been playing chess for over 25 years and love writing about the game. Our goal is simple, to get more people playing chess in Africa! The game of chess is not only absorbing but a great deal of fun.

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