Carlsen's Idea against the Alapin by GM Magesh and GM Arun

Carlsen's Idea against the Alapin by GM Magesh and GM Arun‎

GM thamizhan
19 | Opening Theory

This week we shall an idea against the Alapin system for Black. The Alapin has been a super solid variation for White against the mighty Sicilian. Many of the players who are not ready to face the long theoretical battles in the Sicilian often prefer this system which makes the Sicilian players feel uncomfortable.


The main point being, the players who play the Sicilian mostly expect complicated positions and for them the Alapin is a dry system where it is not easy to complicate matters. As in most of the ideas against the Alapin white will always keep a slight edge and Black will be fighting for equality. 


In today's game we shall see a rare idea 6. ... Be7 employed by World no 1 Magnus Carlsen against David Howell's Alapin. The outcome of the opening was satisfactory for Black since he not only managed to equalize but also managed to put some pressure on White and soon utilized some of the inaccuracies by White, but misplayed it in the end to a draw.




After the exchange of Queens Black managed to find excellent resources and it was white who was trying to equalize. Mostly in Alapin systems the two bishop advantage plays an important role in the assessment of the position. It is also important to maintain a healthy pawn structure. Players who want to play the Alapin or to play against the Alapin should learn to convert small advantages and should improve their positional understanding.




In this game White did not have a clear opening plan and soon got into big trouble right after the opening. It all started with 9. Nfxd4, after which the b5-knight did not have a good square for retreat and one after another everything went wrong. So for the time being 6. ... Be7 instead of the usual cxd4 seems to be an interesting idea for Black players. To play such positions effectively it is very important to improve your technique (utilizing small advantages and improving the position and outplaying the opponent). Hence we suggest the readers to play a lot of games in this systems to get the feel for the position.

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