My opponent today was Hikaru Nakamura from the US. He has been in great form recently, and won the Tata Steel tournament in January, where I shared 3-4th place. However, I had won our last two mutual encounters, so I was feeling pretty good about my chances nonetheless. As black in the blindfold game, I was surprised in the opening, and instead of following theory I could barely remember I decided to improvise. However, things soon went wrong, and with energetic play my opponent obtained a very promising position. He didn't make the most of it however, and with good defense the game was heading for a draw. In the end we arrived at an opposite colored bishop ending, which was a dead draw despite his extra pawn.

Then something interesting happened. I tried to make the move Bf6-d4, only to receive the message from the computer that I had just made an illegal move. I then realized that my bishop had been on e5 for the last few moves. This would have been an insignificant difference were it not for the fact that he had put his rook on c7 several times, where it can be captured by the bishop on e5. My opponent confirmed after the game that he had been suffering from the exact same illusion, that the bishop was on f6 instead of e5.

The rapid game went much more smoothly. Out of a Slav defense I soon got the opportunity to sacrifice a bishop for three pawns and an enduring initiative. I then proceeded to increase the pressure further, and when I got the chance to sacrifice a further exchange, leaving me a full rook down, the domination of my pieces was so great that I thought I would win in a few moves. Things were not that simple though. Very short of time he found a few good defensive moves, and for the next few minutes I looked in vain for a forced win, and lost my whole time advantage. However, I managed to find a couple of excellent moves, and forced his resigned on move 40.

Overall a good start, although due to a very unusual amount of decisive games, I'm only sharing 5-6th place with Anand, with 4 players on 2/2. One of those four is Gashimov, who beat Ivanchuk today, and will be my opponent tomorrow. Should be fun!

Magnus Carlsen, Monaco, 12.03.2011