Winning Ideas In Magnus Carlsen’s Best Chess Games

There is a lot we can learn from the best chess games of Magnus Carlsen.

In the brand new 16-hour course Style Bender: Magnus Carlsen’s 50 Best Games, GM Arkadij Naiditsch reveals exactly how Magnus Carlsen continuously dominates the strongest players in the world.

Enjoy this free preview of the course – an exciting game between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri, played at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in 2019.

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Here are two more of Magnus Carlsen’s best games for you to enjoy.

1.) Carlsen – Wojtaszek, 41st Olympiad Open 2014, Round 4.3

Many beginner chess players look for an elusive opening novelty to win their games quickly. They choose tactical openings despite the advice to use the opening to reach a playable middlegame position.

In one of the best games of Magnus Carlsen, we learn how proper piece placement can transform a modest opening into a deadly attack against a player rated 2735 Elo! The simple truth is you cannot launch an attack with poorly placed pieces.

In fact, Wojtaszek resigned on move thirty-three with queens on the board and an equal material count.

The Sicilian Defense is chosen by many because it is such an effective defense. When playing the Open Sicilian, there are many options for Black.

Using the strategy employed by Magnus Carlsen in this game could cut down your opening study workload with White. Even if you don’t play 1.e4, this game is an excellent reminder to ensure your pieces are on their best squares.

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 g6 5.d3 Bg7 6.Be3 e5 7.Nh3

Sicilian Defense Closed 7.Nh3
Sicilian Defense Closed 7.Nh3

7.Qd2 is the more popular choice and has appeared in four hundred games more than Carlsen’s choice.

The following position was reached after 17…Qd8

Carlsen Wojtasezk 17...Qd8
Carlsen Wojtasezk 17…Qd8

Magnus played 18.Rad1, which brings his last piece into play and prepares d4. Continuing with his precise piece placement, Magnus responded to 18…Rc8 with 19.Qe2 to prevent an attack on his queen with …Nc4 after d4.

Carlsen Wojtasezk 20.d4
Carlsen Wojtasezk 20.d4

You can see the classical elements of centralized pieces, bringing all the pieces to good squares and control of the center in this position. All of this from a modest opening choice against a super-GM.

There Are Timeless Principles in Chess

Here is the final position of the game. Take note of the central control with pawns on e4 and d4; the rook and queen are on the semi-open f-file pressuring the f7-pawn. The rook on e1 will soon shift to f1 to increase the pressure on f7.

All too often, we forget the classical guiding principles in our rush to memorize opening theory, but as Magnus has shown, they apply at the highest levels. What makes this one of the best games of Magnus Carlsen is how easy he made the win appear.

Carlsen Wojtasezk 33.Bxd5 the final position of one of the best games of magnus Carlsen where a super GM resigned in a position of equal material.
Carlsen Wojtasezk 33.Bxd5

Carlsen – Wojtaszek, 2014.08.05, 1-0, 41st Olympiad Open 2014 Round 4.3, Tromso NOR

the best games of magnus carlsen blog image

2.) Carlsen – Karjakin, World Championship Match 2016, 10th game

All chess players would like to win their games early in the game, but these chances diminish as you play stronger opponents. 

In this endgame masterpiece, Magnus demonstrated how effective it is to play across the whole board. This is a strategy to use earlier in your games as well. 

Take notice of how Magnus’ space advantage made his pieces more active than Karjakin’s pieces.

Learning to get the most from a space advantage is an excellent chess skill you can use in selecting your opening repertoire. The Advance Variation against the French Defense and Caro-Kann Defense will work well for you.

To improve at chess you should in the first instance study the endgame blog image

Two years earlier, Magnus Carlsen was asked to predict his next challenger. Sergey Karjakin was not on Carlsen’s list, yet he was leading the match with three remaining games.

Magnus trailed by a whole point and needed a win to force a tiebreaker. Magnus needed to decide if he should take risks now or wait until the last two games. 

He avoided taking risks, kept the calculation to a minimum, and avoided any sudden changes in the pawn structure. This is not an unusual approach by Carlsen, but it could have cost him dearly if Karjakin hadn’t missed a draw by repetition on move twenty.

The Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense Is a Tough Nut to Crack

Magnus chose to play the move 4.d3 against Karjakin’s opening choice of the Berlin Defense in the Ruy Lopez.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0-0 6.Bg5

Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense 6.Bg5
Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense 6.Bg5

Alexey Shirov used 6.Bg5 against Carlsen at Biel, in 2012. In this game, it isn’t surprising both Carlsen and Karjakin played precisely in the opening.

On move eighteen, Karjakin offered Carlsen the chance to exchange bishops on e6. The opportunity to weaken Karjakin’s pawn structure was accepted and after 19.Bxe6 fxe6 Carlsen chose to defend his knight with 20.Nd2.

Carlsen Karjakin 20.Nd2
Carlsen Karjakin 20.Nd2

Defending the knight on f3 with 20.Kg2 loses after 20…Nhf4+ 21.gxf4 Nxf4+ forking the king and queen.

In this critical position, Karjakin missed his chance for a draw and played 20…d5. Instead of this move, 20…Nxf2+ 21.Kg2 Nh4+ 22.Kg1 Nh3+ 23.Kh1 Nf2+ 24.Kg1 Nh3+ is a draw by repetition.

Carlsen Karjakin 20...Nxf2+ one of the best games of Magnus Carlsen known more for the missed draw than excellent endgame play of Magnus.
Carlsen Karjakin 20…Nxf2+

After missing his chance for a draw Karjakin, the endgame play of Magnus Carlsen proved too strong.

Carlsen – Karjakin, 11.24.2016, 1-0, World Championship Match Round 10, New York, NY USA

In Conclusion

There is and quite likely will only be one Magnus Carlsen. Even strong grandmasters will find it hard to play the positions Magnus Carlsen thrives in.

This small sample of the best games of Magnus Carlsen shows how much we can learn from his games. 

Consider for a moment how much more wisdom you will find in another forty-seven of the best games of Magnus Carlsen.

Don’t hesitate any longer! 

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