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The Clash of Titans: the Millionaire Magnus Carlsen Beat the Billionaire Bill Gates: Time Dominates

by Boris Schipkov

The founder of Microsoft, billionaire, computer programmer and philanthropist Bill Gates played a blitz chess game against World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen at the Skavlan Talk Show, a Norwegian TV program, in London, 22nd January 2014. Time controls: Bill Gates had 2 minutes, Magnus Carlsen - 30 seconds on the clock. In this game Time was the most important thing: many decisions was made by rivals, especially Magnus Carlsen with taking into account problems with time, with time trouble, with lack of time to find the best responses. Magnus Carlsen must win as quickly as possible, to checkmate the opponent, Bill Gates must play a long game with a lot of moves to win on time. So we see psychological background of the game: time dominates all. The point: Magnus Carlsen has much more experience in chess, he has played many games with various time controls.

Gates, Bill - Carlsen, Magnus [B00]
Skavlan Talk Show, London 2014

1. e4
A popular move.
This is a rare continuation, the Nimzowitsch Defence. Magnus Carlsen tries to surprise the rival to force him to think and spend time. Such somewhat strange openings are suited for blitz or rapid tournaments, but not for classical ones.
2. Nf3
A typical move against the usual openings, the Sicilian Defence 1...c5 or the Open Game 1...e5. However 2.d4 is a serious alternative, seizing the centre that is good according to general principles, heuristics. The position is unknown for Bill Gates, he finds himself into uncharted waters of the Chess Ocean. And we see that before Bill Gates did not play chess with only two minutes for all game.
Here Magnus Carlsen knocks the e4 pawn down and wastes 3 seconds to fix it (clock 0:26). An error!

3. Bd3
White defends the e4 pawn with the bishop. A bit unusual move, because now White cannot advance the central d-pawn. Probably Bill Gates also tries to astonish the rival, he thinks 7 seconds (clock 1:50). But according to the chess heuristics - Trading is good, if we can gain a tempo; Develop knights before bishops - the best move is 3.exd5, White trades pawns, and after 3...Qxd5 White gains a tempo with 4.Nc3, because Black must play the queen. For example, in the game Karpov, Anatoly - Hort, Vlastimil, Oslo 1984 White obtained a small but lasting advantage after 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. Nc3 Qa5 (here 4...Qh5 is worse, 5. Nb5 Kd8 6. Be2, and White is better) 5. Bb5 a6 6. Bxc6+ bxc6 7. Qe2 Nf6 8. Ne5 e6 9. O-O.
A novelty. Black can attack the bishop with 3...Nb4!?, e.g. 4. O-O Nxd3 (4...dxe4 5. Bxe4 f5 6. Bd3 Nxd3 7. cxd3 Qxd3 8. Ne5 Qd4 9. Nf3 Qd6 10. b3 Bd7 11. Ba3 Qf6 12. Nc3, and White has compensation for the pawn) 5. cxd3 c6 (5...e6) 6. e5?! (correct is 6. Nc3!? e6 7. b3, with counterplay) 6...Bg4! 7. Re1 (7. h3) 7...e6 8. Nc3 Bc5, with a small edge to Black in Philippy, Marco - Schaefer, Uwe, DESC email 2005. Magnus Carlsen prefers to keep the knight to play more complicated positions.
4. exd5!
Bill Gates finds the best move here, and plans to win a tempo in the case of 4...Qxd5 with 5. Nc3. Clock 1:44.
Magnus Carlsen activates the queen, intending to attack to crush the antagonist. Clock 0:24.
5. Nc3

Aggressive and strong! Many people would choose here the safe 5...Qd6 or 5...Qd8. Clock 0:23.
6. O-O!
Again Bill Gates plays the best move, castles short (clock 1:29). If White attacks the c7 pawn with 6. Nb5, then Black replies with the powerful 6...Nd5! 7. c4 Nf4 8. Bf1 Bg4! (Black sacrifices a pawn and a rook) 9. Nxc7+ Kd8 10. d3! (White loses quickly after the greedy 10. Nxa8? Nd4 11. d3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 Nxf3+ 13. Qxf3 Qxf3) 10...Kxc7 11. Bxf4+ e5 12. Bd2 Re8, and Black takes the initiative.
World Chess Champion develops the light-squared bishop and plans to storm the white king (clock 0:23).
7. h3?!
A dubious continuation, though logical, because Bill Gates intends to trade pieces that is good for him: after 7.h3 the best moves are 7...Bxf3 8. Qxf3 Qxf3, and without the queen Magnus Carlsen cannot checkmate quickly, so Bill Gates has real chances to win on time (clock 1:21). Here we see that Bill Gates almost always plays chess without a chess clock: he forgets to press the clock at once and wastes 1 second.
But 7. Be2 is better: White defends the knight with the bishop, and only then plays h3; 7....e6 8. h3, here 8...Bxh3 is possible, 9.gxh3 Qxh3 10. Re1 Qg4+ 11. Kf1 Qh3+, a draw by perpetual check.

A chess mistake (clock 0:22). Magnus Carlsen sacrifices a bishop, and the rival obtains a big advantage if defends well. This is a risky but logical move, this is a trap. Logical: if we want to win fast we must try to checkmate, therefore we must create complicated positions with queens where we can attack the monarch. Of course, if Magnus Carlsen has two or more minutes he prefers 7...Bxf3 8. Qxf3 Qxf3 9. gxf3 O-O-O, with a small edge to Black thanks to White's weak pawns on the kingside.
8. hxg4!
The best move and brave decision (clock 1:15). White grabs the bishop.

9. Nxe5?
Bill Gates falls into a trap, this is the decisive mistake (clock 1:10). If he has ten minutes he can find the only 9. Re1!, and White's king can fly to f1 and then to e2 square. After 9. Re1! Nxf3+ (in the case of 9...O-O-O! White must find the best 10. Be4! (10. Nxe5 is weaker, 10...Qh2+ 11. Kf1 Nxe5 12. Bf5+ e6 13. Bh3 f5) 10...e6 11. Nxe5 Qh2+ 12. Kf1 Nxe5 13. g3, with a big edge) 10. Qxf3 Qh2+ 11. Kf1 White has a huge advantage due to an extra piece. Magnus Carlsen's trap reminds me the Siberian Trap: one black knight attacks the defending white f3 knight, another black knight sits on g4, and the queen checkmates on h2.
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen checkmates the rival (clock 0:18). Magnus Carlsen spent 12 seconds, Bill Gates spent 50 seconds. Bill Gates is a great expert in business, computer programs and philanthropy, and Magnus Carlsen is a great expert in chess.
White resigned. 0-1


Gates, Bill - Carlsen, Magnus [B00]
Skavlan Talk Show/London 2014

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Nc3 Qh5 6. O-O Bg4 7. h3 Ne5 8. hxg4 Nfxg4 9. Nxe5 Qh2+ 0-1

Video. Skavlan: Magnus Carlsen vs Bill Gates


© 2014 Boris Schipkov