Magnus Carlsen’s Mysterious Magic

This is my first post in 2015 and the holidays are almost over, so I thought I’d start the year with some magic.

The following game, or rather the 8 moves I’ll take a closer look at, left a deep impression when I first saw it years ago. It is still very difficult for me to understand what happened, even though it is possible to explain every single move taken on its own. But as a whole, it’s a mystery (Botvinnik said that it was possible to explain every game Fischer won against Taimanov and Larsen, but the total score of 12-0 was a mystery to him). Bear in mind that Jakovenko was rated 5th in the world at the time of the game.

How is it possible to win a game like this? I don’t think I would have won this had I played against a player rated 200 rating points less than me and yet Carlsen beats world’s number 5 so easily! What does Carlsen do that the others don’t and how come it works for him and it doesn’t work for the others? I can see the logic and intention behind every move of his, as explained in the notes, I’m sure Jakovenko did it too, and yet he managed to lose in 2 moves (33…Kd6?!, 34…Ra6?). I don’t think he would have lost this had he played against Houdini or Stockfish or Kramnik. But against Carlsen he lost. Honestly, I think it’s impossible to explain why it happened and that’s why we call it mystery or magic. Or perhaps we should call it talent, or genius, which some individuals possess – take Fischer from the Botvinnik example above. And perhaps it’s even better that some things cannot be explained. In this period of festivity a little bit of magic is more than welcome.
Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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3 Comments
  • Anonymous
    Jan 11,2015 at 7:54 pm

    psychological pressure ? like the "he is a coward" to Giri ?

  • Jan 8,2015 at 11:29 pm

    Actually you can see in the game viewer that Carlsen is white and Jakovenko is black.

  • Anonymous
    Jan 8,2015 at 10:25 pm

    Not sure if it can be determined from the above but who's black and who's white? Thanks, Darren

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