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J. Polgar v. Carlsen 2022


July 15 2022

This month, Judit Polgar played reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in a quick casual game of chess.

==The interactive diagrams==

The diagrams here, when viewed on the world wide web, are interactive diagrams. Click on “>” below the diagram to advance the position one move; click on “<” to go back one move. Click on “reset” to return to the position being discussed in the notes.

==The Game==

On July 2nd, 2022 during the candidate’s chess tournament in Spain, Grandmaster (and at one time world #8 player) Judit Polgar sees reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the park and they play a casual (“Skittles”) game of chess as a crowd and camera crew watch and record the event. Polgar is White and Carlsen is Black in this game. Both players had only three minutes to make all of their moves.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6

It’s unusual for Carlsen to play the Sicilian Taimanov (For people familiar with ECO codes: B48), but he has played it a couple of times in tournaments, both this year, one game as Black against Grandelius and another game, again as Black, against candidates winner Nepomniachtchi in a rapid game.

Judit Polgar is no stranger to the Sicilian Taimanov, having played it with the Black pieces in a famous 1994 game against Shirov in Argentina.

5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f3 Be7 9. O-O-O b5 10. g4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bb7 12. e5

The usual moves to make here are Kb1 or g5, but Polgar played the novelty move e5 which has not been seen in master level play before.

12... Nxg4 13. Rg1 Nh6

White could not play 13. fxg3 because then Black’s bishop would had taken the rook on h1.

While 13... Bxf3 is technically Black’s best move here, there were a number of tactical complications Black would had been exposed to, such as 14. Bg2 Bxg2? 15. Qxg2 and now both Black’s a8 rook and g4 knight are under attack, causing him to lose a piece.

14. Bd3 Bf8

Black is now forced to put his dark-squared bishop back on its home square. Other moves are worse. For example, if Black instead played 14... O-O?, Black would had been exposed to a mating attack:

14... O-O? 15. Rxg7+ Kxg7 16. Rg1+ Ng4 17. Rxg4+ Kh8 18. Qh6 Bg5+ 19. Rxg5 Qxc3 20. Qg7#

Black can make other moves after 14... O-O?, but they all lead to checkmate.

Back to the game that was on the board, it continued as follows.

14... Bf8 15. Be4 Rc8?

Rc8 was a blunder; White can now move and win:

16. Bb6!

Black cannot save both his queen and king. For example, if Black now plays 16... Qxb6??, White can mate with Qxd7#:

Since there is no move which both puts his queen on a safe square and defends the d7 square, Magnus was forced to give up his queen. Magnus and Grandmaster Anish Giri immediately saw that the position was lost for Black and exclaimed “Oh my God!”; the crowd quickly caught on and cheered for Judit’s 16. Bd6! move.

Magnus could had resigned at this point, but, having a strong fighting spirit, Magnus decided to continue on for a few more moves:

16... Bxe4 17. Bxc7 Bc6 18. Bd6 Nf5 19. Ne4 1-0

And this is how Judit Polgar beat Magnus in only 19 moves.

==See also==

A one-page summary of this game is available as a PDF file

The code and graphics to make the chess game diagram come from a variety of open source projects. There is a list of contributors and copyrights for the hard working people who made these chess diagrams possible. Also, the diagram code has a GitHub page.

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