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Shelby Lyman on Chess: Relentless and Confident

Hint and Explanation: Limit Black’s Moves

Like many great players, Magnus Carlsen has few explicit secrets. In part because of his manner at the chessboard, his play — and the games themselves — are transparent. There is not much to hide.

In interviews he is ready to talk about his overall approach to the game — perhaps because he feels doing so is likely to intimidate at least as much as help his opponents.

Carlsen’s faith in his own powers drives the discourse.

“I’m definitely the best in the world,” he told Shortlist magazine. “My approach is based on that confidence. You should be cocky if you’re No. 1.”

Before he became the world classical champion, Carlsen’s play was raised to a new level by training for most of a year (2009-2010) with the former champion Garry Kasparov.

“The way he understands the dynamics of chess is incredible,” Carlsen said.

Carlsen likes to compare himself to the tennis player Rafael Nadal. “We’re relentless, gradually overpowering our opponent and never giving up.”

After drawing a game with Levon Aronian, of Armenia, in the recent World Rapid tournament, he said, “A very good, interesting game and I had to use all my powers to stay alive.”

Carlsen described another game, with Alexander Grischuk, as having been “completely in ruins” in the early stages. After “somehow surviving,” he managed a win, which earned Carlsen the World Rapid title.

Below is a win by Viktor Bologan against Elizabeth Paehtz from the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters tournament in Caleta, England.

Paehtz Bologan

1. e4 e6

2. d4 d5

3. Nc3 Nf6

4. e5 N(f)d7

5. f4 c5

6. Nf3 Nc6

7. Ne2 Be7

8. c3 O-O

9. a3 f6

10. b4 cxd4

11. N(e)xd4 Nxd4

12. Qxd4 a5

13. Be3 axb4

14. cxb4 Nb8

15. Qb2 Nc6

16. Bb5 fxe5

17. fxe5 d4

18. Bf2 Rxf3

19. gxf3 Nxe5

20. O-O-O Qd5

21. Bxd4 Nxf3

22. a4 Qe4

23. R(h)g1 e5

24. Qb3ch Kh8

25. Qf7 Bg4

26. Rxg4 Qxg4

27. Qxe7 Nxd4

28. Rf1 Qc8ch

White resigns

Solution to Beginner’s Corner: 1. c3! a4 (now the only legal move) 2. bxa4 mate!