First of all, I apologize for not blogging before this, but I've not been playing much yet, and I was, perhaps understandably, not that eager to blog after an upsetting loss :) More about that slightly later. I did not play in the first round against Jamaica, since they were clearly not the strongest team on paper, and I thought the other guys on the team needed to warm up. However, the match turned out to be very tense, apart from on board 4, where IM Hansen won rather cleanly for Norway. After surviving some scares in the middlegame the other boards were finally drawn 1.5-1.5, which meant a narrow win for us, 2.5-1.5 in the end.
In the second round round we faced a slightly stronger opponent, Portugal, so I was ready to get into action. As white against GM Luis Galego (2500) I quickly got a potentially nagging edge, only to blunder a couple of moves later, giving him a possibility to equalize completely. When he didn't grab this opportunity however, I consolidated the position and assumed control over the game again. Subsequently, a tactical skirmish followed, which I handled better in his looming time-trouble, and finished him off relatively easily with a mating attack on move 44. 1-0. My team mates also did their job very well, which resulted in a convincing 4-0 rout.
Naturally, we were in high spirits before the next round, and were slightly disappointed to find that our opponent would be Russia5, a local youth team, which had overperformed in round 2 with a win against Montenegro. Why Russia were allowed have 5 still puzzles me, but that's another matter. Anyway, I decided to sit out again, which turned out not to be a bad decision, as we won convincingly, 3-1. In the 4th round we were to face Georgia on board 6, our first serious test. And how miserably we failed...
I was black against GM Baadur Jobava (2710), a very dangerous and creative opponent, who I've played many interesting games with before. Initally things went very well, and after an unorthodox opening I was facing a promising queenless middlegame. However, I quickly went wrong, missing a key tactical point on move 20. As a result, it all turned around, and I was forced to find a way to stay in the game rather than fight for the initiative. Jobava continued to play very energetically, and I made a further couple of errors in serious time-trouble, and by the time control on move 40 my position was quite hopeless. I decided to continue for i bit, and got an unexpected chance for a draw on move 50, which he had completely missed. Alas, it was not my day, and it turned out that with a few accurate moves the win was still his for the taking. 1-0 after 64 moves. The rest of the match went no better, and only GM Hammer was able to make a draw from a somewhat unpleasant position, resulting in a crushing 3.5-0.5 win for Georgia.

In the next round we faced another powerful team, Spain, whose 1st board is GM Alexei Shirov, who I will, along with Anand and Kramnik face in the Grand Slam final in Bilbao after the Olympiad. After a painful loss against GM Loek Van Wely in the round before, he decided that did not want face me with black right before Bilbao, and I was instead paired with GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (2697). Eager to go all-out for a win, I decided to avoid a clash in the opening, and postpone the clash until the middlegame. I quickly got a comfortable position with some attacking chances on the kingside, and not too much counterplay for him. On the 20th move I made the double-edged decision to temporarily sac two pawns in return for a strong initiative. My opponent was clearly not very comfortable with the situation, especially as I also had a huge lead on the clock. With 6 minutes left he made a serious mistake on the 23rd move, and when he resigned, still with equal material on move 29, his position was in complete shatters, with my mobile centre pawns running over him any minute. 1-0. The rest of the match went more or less as expected, with 1 loss and 2 draws, resulting in a 2-2 draw, an excellent result for us! Next we face England, with GM Michael Adams (2728) on the first board, and former World Championship candidate GM Nigel Short (2690) on 2nd board. Should be an exiting match, which the whole team looks forward to.

Magnus Carlsen, Khanty-Mansiyisk, September 26th, 2010