1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nh6 [diagram] I was aware Carlsen had played this somewhere but didn't realise it was as recently as at the Olympiad. I had looked at it a little bit but it was one of ten things I had considered as vaguely possible.
7.d4 Malcolm Pein thought this gave White the edge as he had played this in the 1970s when Andersson showed White was doing well. I certainly thought White was comfortable after this. [7.a3 0-0 8.Rb1 b6 9.d3 Bb7 10.Bd2 Nf5 was the continuation in Andreikin-Carlsen, at the World Blitz Championship in Moscow; 7.b3 0-0 8.Bb2 Rb8 9.e3 Nf5 10.d3 a6 was played in Flores-Carlsen, Khanty Mansiysk Olympiad 2010. Carlsen won both of these earlier games.]
7...cxd4 8.Bxh6 Bxh6 9.Nxd4 Ne5!? [diagram]I was happy to see this, it looks a little over-ambitious and I don't think people will be itching to play it again. He played it confidently. I could tell he was definitely trying to beat me with Black. (Black should try and exchange pieces as he has less space so this is risky - Pein) [9...Nxd4 10.Qxd4 0-0 or; 9...Bd7 are the alternatives.]
10.Qb3 [10.e3 Nxc4?? 11.Qa4+ , but I thought I needed to create threats or he could be a bit better with the bishops.]
10...0-0 11.Rfd1 Nd7 12.Qa3! Anticipating Nc5. The moves e3 and Qe2 are natural but I was concerned about Bg4 at some stage.
12...a5 The standard a6 and b5 plan is not possible here. [diagram]
13.b4 [Really important but I wonder if Na4 was a better move: 13.Na4 Ra6 14.c5 dxc5 15.Nxc5 Nxc5 16.Qxc5 Rd6 ; But 13.Na4 Ra6 14.c5 dxc5 15.Nb5!? looks promising. Maybe 13 Na4 was the thing to do, but I was quite pleased with b4 and it threatens c5.]
13...Ra6 [13...Nb6 was the critical response, hitting c4 and protecting the rook on a8 so that axb4 becomes possible. Now, after 14.c5 Nc4 15.Qb3 , the move 15...Nd2!? is a surprising shot. During the game I thought White had good chances in the tactical melee which arises after 16 Qd5!?, but perhaps 16.Qa4 is the correct follow-up after all.]
14.b5 Ra8 15.e3 a4 [15...Nc5 16.Ne4 Nxe4 17.Bxe4 and c4-c5 comes and it's more potent with a pawn on b5 rather than b2.]
16.Rab1 Bg7 [diagram]
17.Ne4! [White has a space advantage and aims for c4-c5. 17.Nxa4? is answered by 17...Qa5! 18.Rb4 Nc5 19.Nb3 when 19...Bb2 (and 19...Qa7 are good for Black.) ]
17...Qb6 18.Nc6! Seen when playing 17 Ne4!
18...Re8 [18...bxc6 19.bxc6 Qa5 (19...Qxc6?? loses the queen to 20.Nf6+ ) 20.cxd7 Bxd7 21.c5 is good for White.]
19.Nb4! f5 [diagram] [Criticised by everyone but the players thought it was right. However, computers give alternatives such as 19...Qa5 20.Nd5 Nb6 , etc.]
20.Nc3 [20.Nd5! Qd8 21.Ng5! was the strongest continuation, threatening to hop into the hole on e6. After 21...Nc5 22.b6 ... to tell the truth, I didn't really calculate these lines and was worried he would play 22...e6 23.Nc7 Qxg5 24.Nxa8 , but this is nonsense as he has no real compensation.; 20.Nd5 Qd8 21.Ng5 Nc5 22.b6 If he plays 22...Rf8 instead, then 23.Nc7 Rb8 24.Rb5! . I missed this, but I was playing quite quickly (because he always plays quickly and I thought I'd better try and keep up).]
20...Qc5? [Big mistake. 20...e6! was forced, when 21.Na6 (21.Nc6 and; 21.Nxa4 can happen, e.g. 21...Qa5 22.Na6 and the position remains messy.) ]
21.Nxa4! Qa7 [diagram]
22.Na6! This looks ungainly but it can't be exploited and the threat is 23 Nc7 Rf8 24 c5!
22...bxa6 23.b6 Nxb6 24.Rxb6 Much stronger than capturing with the knight.
24...Rb8 25.c5! Be6 [One of the reasons I played 24 Rxb6 was that I thought 25...dxc5 26.Qb3+ was almost winning but I had missed 26...c4 , though 27.Qxc4+ gives White an enduring initiative.; 25...dxc5 26.Qxc5 maybe even better. Fortunately everything is still good]
26.Rdb1 [diagram]The recurring theme now is checkmate to the queen! - Pein.
26...dxc5 [26...Qc7 27.c6 is very strong, with Rb7 coming.]
27.Rb7 Rxb7 28.Rxb7 Qa8 29.Nxc5 Qc8 [29...Bf7 30.Rxe7! is winning comfortably, as the a6 pawn will also drop off after the exchange of rooks.]
30.Qxa6 Bf7 [30...Qxc5 31.Qxe6+ Kh8 32.Bc6 wins the e7 pawn as well.]
31.Bc6 Rd8 [diagram]
32.Nd7! [An important move. Against somebody like Carlsen, you don't want to give him any chances so I tried to smother him. It completely knocks him out - he doesn't have any moves. The intention is Qb6 and Rb8 to trap Black's queen. After 32.Rxe7 Qxa6 33.Nxa6 Bxa2 , I can't lose. It's a tempting, lazy option, but I had 15 minutes left - enough time to calculate everything.]
32...Rxd7 [32...Be6 33.Qb6 Bxd7 34.Bxd7 Qc1+ 35.Kg2 Rf8 36.Qe6+ wins.]
33.Bxd7 Qc1+ 34.Qf1 Qxf1+ 35.Kxf1 Bc4+ 36.Kg1 Bxa2 37.Ba4 Forcing off a pair of bishops makes the technical task much simpler.
37...e5 38.f3 [Good technique because 38.Bb3+ Bxb3 39.Rxb3 e4 lets him struggle for a while, albeit without hope. After exchanging bishops, White will play e3-e4 to fix a weakness on e5 before advancing the king.]
38...Bh6 39.Bb3+ [diagram]He played quite quickly for the first 15-20 moves but by the time the game was over I was ahead on the clock. 1-0