Carlsen-So: A Deep Positional Impression

Carlsen-So: A Deep Positional Impression

Oct 15, 2015, 7:15 AM |

I came across Magnus Carlsen's game against Wesley So from the Sinquefield Cup 2015 Round 5 in Daniel King's video review for Chessbase Magazine 168.

This game left a deep impression on me, first and foremost for the concept of positional compensation for a pawn.


Notable lessons from this game were:

* 17. Bc4 highlighting White's control of d5 as positional compensation for the pawn.

* 22. Rhf1 with the idea of f4 and the eventual locking of the Kingside pawn structure favouring a Knight.

* 29. a4 removing any Queenside counterplay by Black.

* 54. c4 as simply endgame finesse, preventing any King activity

Lesson One: Positional compensation for the Pawn


White has just play 17. Bc4 and has sacrificed a pawn to obtain positional compensation in the form of control of d5. He has no less than 4 pieces trained in on that square.

Furthermore, notice his grip on the light squares at d5, e4 and f5 in the absence of a Black light squared bishop.

Observe the Black dark squared bishop, condemend to be bad whilst stuck on the colour of his own pawns.

White will ideally plan to obtain a good Knight versus bad Bishop scenario.


Lesson Two: Creating the right type of pawn structure for Knight versus Bishop


An intuitive plan that a majority of players would undertake would be Rdg1 followed by h4-h5 and g5-g6 storming the castled King.

Instead White chose 22. Rhf1 with the idea of f3-f4-f5 inducing a closed position favourable for his eventual Knight versus Bishop position.


Lesson Three: Preventing Counterplay



Despite being a pawn down, White has a complete bind on this position at d5.

Yet he does not rush. Here he plays 29. a4 exploiting the pin along the b-file.

By playing a4 himself, White prevents any future plans of Black playing ... a4 and opening lines on the Queenside.

For me, this is so impressive how patient Carlsen is in improving his position despite material deficit.


Lesson Four: Endgame finesse removing counterplay



With a protected passed pawn deep in the Black camp, White has a winning advantage.

Here he takes the time out to kill any hint of counterplay by the Black King by playing 54. c4 removing the King's access to d5.

Carlsen-So, Sinquefield Cup 2015 1-0



Inspiration in my own game



At the Singapore Chess meetup I was playing White in this Blitz game.

I considered Rae1 but then Black solidifies with ... f6.

I'd like to think the Carlsen-So game gave me the "courage" to play f6.

After ... ef White I believe has clear compensation with a weakened Kingside pawn structure, clear plan to double/triple heavy pieces on the f-file and an uncastled King