Except for the draw against Karjakin in round 3, all my games have been decisive! This is not what I expected prior to the tournament. It.s partly a result of ambitious play combined with higher than usual variation in the quality of my play, but it is maybe mostly coincidental.
The round 4 and 5 losses against Caruana and Radjabov were of course frustrating. Against Caruana I was clearly worse after inaccurate play in the Berlin. I went on to blunder the c7-pawn without any compensation. Against Radjabov I seriously misjudged the middle game position and level of compensation for the sacrificed exchange. It is fair to say that both my opponents played very accurately in these games and converted their advantages flawlessly.
The rest day with the exciting football cup was just what I needed. Our team of international players, with help from two Azeri players in the final, won on penalty shoot out. I.m feeling more energetic, and although my play isn.t perfect, the results have been terrific after the rest day. Two wins in row with black are of course more than I could expect.
Yesterday Mamedyarov sacrificed a pawn in the opening for compensation. It was an interesting position and not clear who was better. At one point he could have sacrificed his bishop on h6 and forced a draw. His decisive mistake was probably 22.f5. He mistakenly thought he had Rd1 at the end of the variation, and his position just collapsed very quickly.
As in Zurich in February Nakamura tried the f3 Nimzo-Indian variation against me. I thought I was fine in the opening. Soon I discovered that 10. Bd7 was a mistake, as I had to play it back to c8 later to free d7 for my knight. My position seemed precarious, although it is not obvious that he had any forced winning or even significantly better continuations. Having spent 25 minutes on 26.Nxd3 Nakamura was short on time well before the first time control. The pawn-up ending was maybe slightly better for him, but the way he played in time trouble I got everything I wanted, and with the passed pawn on b2 it was a matter of technique in the end. The knight walk from e5 to d1 resulted in a winning exchange-up endgame. 0-1, and once again I.m the sole leader at +2 with Radjabov half a point behind.
I.m happy to see that Shamkir Chess 2014 is shown live on Norwegian television, and TV2 even has a crew onsite for the 2nd half of the tournament.
Having had black in four of the last five games, I have white against Karjakin Monday followed by black against Radjabov and finally white against Caruana in the last round.
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 27th, 2014