12 Mar

Carlsen & Son

In 1972, Reykjavik staged the epic Cold War world championship showdown between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky - a bold move for the Icelandic capital, but it soon paid off by instantly giving it its place in chess history. This is one of the main reasons why chess aficionados love to make the pilgrimage to Reykjavik. And even more so if they can play in a big tournament there, such as the Reykjavik Open, now underway in the Icelandic capital.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen will also be in attendance this year; though not to dazzle us with his play, but instead invited as the tournament’s Guest of Honor. Writing in his blog, Magnus said one of the reasons he accepted the invitation was so that he could see first hand how his father, Henrik, was getting on at the tournament. This is a wonderful role reversal. In Magnus’ formative years on the tournament circuit, it was Henrik who went along to watch his son play - now, for the first time in history, we have a World Champion going to a tournament to watch his father play!

When asked about the merits of chess for society, during an interview for New in Chess Magazine (7/2013), Carlsen Senior replied: “…I truly believe that playing some chess is a blessing for youngsters. Because simply analytically speaking, what you want to do with a child is to help it train the faculties needed for learning, thinking, analysing, making decisions. And chess is a game made for luring children into training these abilities.”

And like father, like son. When Magnus Carlsen accepted our invitation last year to become the Honorary Chairman of First Move, he said: “I love the way chess empowers kids. I consider First Move to be the most strategic way to give kids an advantage and help them live up to their full potential.”

But can his father live up to his full potential?

H Carlsen - GM JP Le Roux
Reykjavik Open, (1)
Queen’s Indian Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7 5.Qc2 Bb4 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Qxc3 d6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 Nbd7 10.e3 Qe7 11.Nd2 c5 12.f3 Rc8 13.b4 d5 14.bxc5 bxc5 15.Be2 Ne4?! 16.fxe4? You can't play meekly against a much higher-rated opponent - you have to be brave, and show no fear. White had much, much better with 16.Nxe4! Qxh4+ 17.g3 Qe7 (17...Qh3 18.Nd6+!) 18.Rb1 Ba8 19.cxd5 Bxd5 (19...exd5 20.Nxc5 Nxc5 21.dxc5 0–0 (21...Qxc5? 22.Qxc5 Rxc5 23.Rb8+ and White wins.) 22.Rc1 with the superior position and a pawn to the better) 20.Nxc5 Nxc5 21.Ba6! Bxf3 22.0–0! Be4 23.Rb4 and White is going to emerge from the tactical melee with a big positional and material advantage. 16...Qxh4+ 17.g3 Qe7 18.cxd5 exd5 19.Qb3 Ba8 20.e5 Rb8 21.Qc3 (See Diagram)  21...Nxe5! A bolt from the blue. Carlsen senior misses a discovered attack on his rook along the long a8-h1 diagonal. 22.Qxc5 22.dxe5 d4 23.exd4 cxd4 24.Qxd4 Bxh1 easily wins for Black. 22...Qxc5 23.dxc5 d4 24.e4 Ke7 25.0–0 Rhc8 26.Rfc1 Rb2 27.Ba6 Rc6 28.Nc4 Nf3+ 0–1

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