13 Apr

Magnus, Movie & Moves

We’ve all watched in awe over the years the moves of World Champion and the First Move Honorary Chairman, Magnus Carlsen.  But tomorrow at Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York, we finally get the chance to watch the long-awaited movie of Magnus that follows his meteoric rise to the chess summit, and all filmed with footage from over a decade from behind the scenes.


The young Norwegian filmmaker, Benjamin Ree, spent years making his documentary Magnus, as he followed the career trajectory of the 13-year-old from his homeland as he rose from child prodigy to become one of the biggest names in the game. With inside insight, Ree tells the compelling tale of Magnus’ personal sacrifices, friendships, challenges and his supportive family.

The good news is that a lot of interest has been shown in Ree's movie Magnus - and this could be a boon for for extra interest in Carlsen’s upcoming title defence against Russian Sergey Karjakin later this year, also in New York. All four initial public screenings of Magnus sold out well in advance, and such has been the interest shown by the largely New York-centric festival moviegoers that TFF have now added an unscheduled fifth date. And if you miss it at TFF, then you can catch Magnus in the theatres with its general release in the fall of 2016.


But it’s extremely doubtful whether Magnus will be able to spare the time in his hectic schedule to attend the premier of Magnus on Thursday, because he’s currently hard at work preparing for the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament in Stavanger, which runs 19-29 April.

Carlsen heads the field that also includes ex-world champion Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Li Chao (China - and Karjakin’s late replacement), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), Pentala Harikrishna (India), and last but not least wild card qualifier Nils Grandelius (Sweden).

Grandelius is set to become the first Swede to play in a super-tournament since Ulf Andersson in the late 1980s, after the 22-year-old surprisingly beat off local favourite Jon Ludvig Hammer, the Norwegian No.2, in late March to easily win a four-player qualifier (that also included Women’s World Champion, Hou Yifan of China, and the new Norwegian teen ace, Aryan Tari) in Fagernes, Norway.

GM Nils Grandelius - GM Jon Ludvig Hammer
Norway Chess Qualifier, (4)
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Ragozin variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 Something akin to the Nimzo-Indian, the Ragozin variation - named after the leading Soviet player and opening theorists of his day, Vlacheslav Ragozin (1908-1962) - is a very flexible, solid and a reliable system against the QGD, that found a new lease of life recently following the publication of a refreshing new book on it, The Ragozin Complex, by IM Vladimir Barsky, and published by New In Chess. 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 c5 8.dxc5 Nbd7 9.Qd4 Qa5 10.a3 White has to relieve the tension of the pin on c3 quickly, or else Black will get a grip on the position. 10...Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 0-0 And not 11...Qxc5? as the simple 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.e3 leaves Black's pawns shattered with a hopeless endgame in prospect. 12.Qb4 Qc7 Hammer is hoping that his lead in development - and White's smashed queenside pawns - will offer him compensation for his pawn. The only flaw in his plan, though, is the power of White's dark-square control over the board with some of those crippled pawns and the influence of his bishop. 13.Bg3 Qd8 14.Nd2 A prophylactic move, preventing Black getting in safely ...Ne4 and the recapture of the pawn on c5 with a good game. 14...Re8 15.e3 Ne4 16.Nxe4 Rxe4 17.c4! d4 18.Be2! The last two moves from White has helped with his development - and now by returning the pawn, White has two powerful bishops and open files for his rooks. 18...dxe3 19.0-0 exf2+ 20.Rxf2 Qg5 Hammer has opted to 'press the gamble button' by seeking complications with the sacrifice of the exchange, as after 20...Ne5 21.Raf1 Qd4 22.Kh1 f6 23.Rd1! Qe3 24.Bf1 Black's position is looking a bit loose as he can't fully complete his development with the threat hanging over b7. 21.Bf3 Nxc5 22.Bxe4 Nxe4 23.Re2 Nf6? Strange, after sacrificing the exchange for complications, Hammer now rejects the best offer here of establishing his knight on the dominant e4 outpost with 23...f5 - it could well be the case that Hammer decided that a timely exchange sacrifice coming from White on e4, could well compromise his position. That's possible - but it had to be a better chance for him there than now with the sad retreat back with his knight and no prospects at all. 24.Rd1! Grandelius' dominating rooks down both of the open e- and d-files certainly look, much like his name, grand! 24...Kh7 Trying to circumvent any complications coming that will see White gaining a tempo from a capture on a8 with check, such as 24...Bg4 25.Re5 Qg6 26.Qxb7 and White has a big winning plus. 25.Re5 Qg6 26.Qb1! It's definitely a truism in chess that when you are material ahead, then exchanging pieces makes the win all the more easier to achieve - and even more so when it involves the exchange of queens. 26...Qxb1 27.Rxb1 The problem on b7 never goes away for Hammer; it sealed his fate in this game that proved to be such a decisive loss for him. 27...b6 28.c5! (See Diagram) Grandelius expertly clears up now. If Black captures on c5, then after Rxc5, there comes the further exchange of pieces after the unstoppable Rb8. 28...Be6 29.c6! Passed pawns must be pushed! Black has good salvaging chances after the exchange of pawns on b6, with 29.cxb6 axb6 30.Re3 (30.Rxb6? Nd7!) 30...Bc4 31.Rbe1 b5 - but after 29.c6, Black can more or less resign anytime now. 29...Rc8 30.Rc1 Nd7 31.Re3 Nc5 32.c7 Black can't do anything now with the pawn on c7 now like a bone stuck in his throat. 32...Kg6 33.Rd1 Nb7 34.Red3 Kf6 35.Rd8 Ke7 36.Rxc8 Bxc8 Black's king is cut off from the queenside by the rook on d1, meanwhile the knight has to stay on b7 to also now stop Rd8, and the huge pawn on c7 can't ever be captured: all of this leaves White the easy task of ending the game. 37.Kf2 Be6 38.Ke3 Bc8 39.Be5 f6 40.Bg3 h5 41.h4 Ke8 42.Rd5 g6 43.Rd4 Ke7 44.Ra4 Forcing a further weakness on b6 that will ultimately decide matters. 44...a5 45.Rd4 Bf5 46.Kd2 Bd7 47.Re4+ Kf7 48.Kc3 Bc8 49.Bf2 Nd6 If 49...b5 50.Rd4 Ke7 51.Rd5 and one of the queenside pawns will now fall. 50.Re1 Nb5+ 51.Kb2 Nd6 52.Rc1 b5 53.Rc6 Nc4+  1-0 After the simple Ka2, Black has no answer for the coming a4.

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