Sergey misses the knockout

After Sergey took the lead in Game 8 expectations were extremely high since all pressure was on Magnus now. I actually recalled the famous encounter between Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund in 1998 when one of the goals collapsed before the game started leading to a legendary comment of the German TV commentator (who had the compassionate job to entertain the audience for more than an hour) that “a goal never had been more beneficial to a match” – a phrase that usually refers to a boring match getting more interesting after a goal was scored.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an english source.

Once again, Magnus deviated within the Spanish opening by playing the Archangelsk variation.
Watching commentary by Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson on chess 24 I happily realised I was actually listening to well known experts in this opening.

Nevertheless, hoping for an exciting game with chances for Magnus to equalize I got unpleasantly surprised soon when Peter stated after 23.Ra6:

This [Archangelsk line] is playable, maybe drawable, but not particularly enjoyable and definitely not equal.

Isn’t the idea of a pawn sacrifice always to get active play that creates decent winning chances (obviously including higher risks)? Aparently not. Just for esthetic reasons I would never play this line with White but Peter’s comment proved to be right as Magnus got into trouble.

Position after 38...Ne7?!

Position after 38…Ne7?!

After the inaccurate 38…Ne7 Sergey could have played 39.Qb3 leading to a very promising position as even 39…Nf5 allows 40.Bxf7 Qxf7 41.Qxf7+ Kxf7 42.Rxh7+ and 43.Rxc7.

Instead, the piece sacrifice 39.Bxf7 left Magnus in a highly complex position with two minutes left on the clock. However, he managed to defend quite accurately throughout until draw was agreed on move 74.

This game shows Sergey does not just go for a draw by any means but is (still!) ready to take his chances whenever it comes. Let’s see how this goes on when Magnus is playing White tomorrow in game 10.

As always, Niclas provides video analysis here.