Carlsen beats Jakovenko, breaks 2800 barrier

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Nanjing r10Already sure of a sole victory, Magnus Carlsen added even more brilliancy to his Pearl Spring victory by defeating Dmitry Jakovenko in the last round. In doing so, at only 18 years old the Norwegian set a performance rating over 3000 and broke the 2800 barrier (assuming he won't play more rated games for the 1 November FIDE rating list).

The 2nd Pearl Spring tournament takes place September 27 - October 9 in Nanjing, China. It's a 6-player, double round-robin with Topalov (2813), Carlsen (2772), Leko (2762), Radjabov (2757), Jakovenko (2742) and Wang Yue (2736) playing for a € 250,000 prize fund. The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes plus 1 hour.

Round 10

We have trouble finding the words to rightfully describe what Magnus Carlsen has done in China. By winning the Pearl Spring Grand Slam tournament with a devastating 8 out 10 and an unbelievable 3002 performance rating, dropping just four half points with the black pieces in ten games against the world's best, he took home € 80,000 and a total of 28.8 rating points and broke the magical 2800 barrier.

It's unclear whether Garry Kasparov, who started coaching Carlsen this year, had already reached this level of play at at 18 years, ten months and one and a half week. We're talking early February 1982, a time when Kasparov had won the Soviet Championship twice shared. In the same year he won his first super-tournament himself, in Bugojno, finishing with 9.5/13 (!) ahead of Hübner, Polugaevsky, Ljubojevic, Spassky, Petrosian, Andersson, Larsen, Ivanovic, Timman, Kavalek, Najdorf, Gligoric and Ivkov.

In the light of the many draws that were played in Nanjing, it's interesting to give a quote from The Test of Time, in which Kasparov writes:

"Both [the first two Bugojno] tournaments produced a hard struggle, and therefore uncomprimising play was also expected of the participants in the 1982 event. And it has to be expected that these expectations were not betrayed - in each round there were interesting games, and it was only at the finish, when competitive considerations began to take the upper hand, that some short draws occured."

The Pearl Spring tournament was just one tournament, and a relatively short event, so it still remains to be see how Carlsen will develop from here, and how it will go against the top players who weren't in Nanjing. The good news is that he will meet about all of the others in the upcoming Tal Memorial: Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Morozevich, Ponomariov and Svidler. In less then a month the fairy tale continues...

Nanjing r10

Carlsen's last victory, today against Jakovenko, was a continuation of Kasparov and Karpov's theoretical discussion in the Queen's Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation. And just like in Valencia, Black got a solid but passive position out of the opening. It was instructive to see that White's early e4-e5 was good because of Black's lack in development and clumsy knights, and so both c5 and f6 pawn breaks were impossible to realize quickly. As soon as White's pawns started rolling the position got impossible to defend (although we're not sure whether Carlsen's 26th move was the most accurate).

The Petroff in Leko-Wang Yue was as dull as only a Petroff can be but Topalov and Radjabov fought out a game of no less than 95 moves in this last round. In a theoretically important line of the 9.Ne1 King's Indian there was a lot of manoeuvering (at some point 25 moves were played without a capture or a pawn being pushed!), and although Topalov seemed slightly better all the time, Radjabov skillfully held everything together.

Nanjing r10

Carlsen took those 28 rating points from all the players; none of the others managed to win points in Nanjing. In the end Radjabov, Jakovenko and Leko all ended on minus two and so nobody played that terrible, but only Topalov and Wang Yue could more or less keep their regular level. Some of Leko and Wang Yue's games really looked uninspired and we think Radjabov needs to work on his White repertoire, but for the rest, well, this tournament will only be remembered for one player!

Games round 10

Game viewer by ChessTempo

2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Round 10 Standings 2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Schedule & results 2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

Nanjing r10

Radjabov and Topalov analyzing after their 95 moves long game

Nanjing r10

Still the world's number one, but with a smaller margin: Veselin Topalov

Nanjing r10

A fantastic first prize of € 80,000: Magnus Carlsen


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