Qatar Master 2015 Round 5 Carlsen vs Li Chao

December 29, 2015 - Chess

Daniel King analyses the game Carlsen vs Li Chao from round 5 of the Qatar Masters.
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Hi my name is Rebecca Taxmen and I’m with Chess NYC. I’m going to talk to you today about the three principles to opening strategy. So when we get to the game we’re always like, ‘Uh, what do I do? There’s so many pieces. I don’t know how to start.” Well I’m going to give you three steps that are going to help you create a strong, confident opening.

First thing that we need to understand is these four center squares. These are considered a super square because this is where the center of the board is, the control center. For example, if I have my knight in the center of the board, my knight can control up to eight different squares, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. We can see that this is a very strong place for my knight. If I have my knight on the side of the board it can only control up to four squares, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Therefore, my knight is stronger in the center whereas most pieces are stronger in the center of the board. So at the beginning of the game you want to think about center control. First thing we can try and do is get our pawns into the center. Very important to try to get our pawns to control the center. The next important step that we want to focus on is piece development.

Now I like to think about my pieces as they are working for me. I want to give my pieces a job. If they’re sitting back here they’re not happy and they’re not doing anything. So my next step is to bring my pieces out and have them working for me. Usually we bring out the knights before the bishops. So I can bring my knight to F-3 and my other knight to C-3 and then I’m bringing them towards the center. Notice how I did not bring my knight to H-3, that would not be a good choice. Towards the center.

Next, I want to bring my bishops out, again towards the center controlling the center squares. The next step that we always want to consider is king safety, very important. I like to consider the king like a baby. The reason I consider the king a baby is because we always want to protect our babies just like we always want to protect our king. Therefore, the best way to protect your king at the beginning of the game is to castle. Now we have two places, two ways that we can castle. You can either castle on the king’s side or on the queen’s side.

Right away I can see that I can castle on the king’s side. To castle I move my king two spaces and then bring my rook to the other side and now my king is stuck behind a little fortress or, to keep with the theme of a baby, a crib and it is protected and safe. Just to review, the three important principles are controlling the center, piece development, and king safety. Those are the three things that we can do at the beginning of the game to go into the middle game confidently.

31 thoughts on “Qatar Master 2015 Round 5 Carlsen vs Li Chao

airan perez

amazing game, magnus showing why he is the world champion

Jordin Pagel

excellent commentary. Thank you.

Peter Butler

Thanks Daniel always enjoyed your reviews, ever since Short v K. I wonder if you were in the grandmasters box at their world championship when we all laughed out loud and the arbitrer had a coronary.

Jan Åge Pedersen

Wonderful Christmas present for the Magnus fans! Great commentary!

Harrish Vijay Parasara

Danny King, can please go through one of Vishy's amazing victories except the Aronian one?


Happy Christmas, Mr. King. Thank you for this excellent channel.


Kh8 was a pretty big mistake allowing the Ng6 tactic where as Ka1 didn't share the same waste of tempo. Still, I don't know that I play this from white's side. Terribly scary! Maybe in blitz…


Magnus, the Magnificent!


thanks for covering another Carlsen game, Daniel… very entertaining :)


What a great game this is. How refreshing to see Carlsen flexing his muscles and showing this young upstart who is the boss.


18… g5 19 Ng6ch Kg8 20 Nxf8 f4! 21 e6 Qxf8 22 Nxa2 fxe3 23 Qxe3 Qf5 24 Nc3 a4!? (24 … Nc2ch 25 Rxc2 Qxc2 26 Bd3 +-) 24… a4 unclear.


Daniel you didn't mention that Bxa2 was basically a blunder and that black is fine after Rfd8.


Happy Christmas, Master King!

Thank you once again for all your wonderful analyses.



What's going on with Magnus? He is playing so aggressive

Espen Larsen

This was an amazing game of chess! I enjoy these reports immensely, I listen to them over and over again. Thank you, so much, Daniel King.


These games are more exciting than the ones with two super players


Wonderful game from Magnus — worthy of the champ, and better than game vs Duda. Might be the game of the year?

However I would say that in this one case I don't think Daniel's analysis goes very deep. He has breezed over some defenses, in the effort to keep the video short. Interested viewers should see the Ramirez-Carlsen interview on youtube.
If any Black move is 'controversial' it is 14…Kh8 as King mentions, since Li ends up basically just losing 2 tempos after he has to move back to g8 again.

Abdollah Abdollah

Is this one of the best games ever or I am wrong ?!! who will ignore the mate attack and play H5 !!!! then H6 !!! ….. then killing D5 !!! then giving back the queen for securing end game !! …. …. Its like '' I don't care about my king … I will mate you first !! ''


When Carlsen played 24. d5 it was Li Ciao …


Magnus is fearless! (At this level – you have to be!)

Potential x10

I want a premium wooden chess board with wooden peices… but there to expensive.. where to find a cheap set


1:27 is my mom describing me.

Mhike Frances Marban

edi wow

Moris Smor

You already made the same video

sebastian cuello



Black didn't get a chance to move :3

Sharif Shaikh

very nice strategy

Amos Sailo


Logan Hill

Face palm when she places the horse/knight 4 up and 1 across when you can only put it up 3…

Ayman Triki

@Ethan Brodehl only in castling for one time in the game.

Micael Pedrosa

This is kind of "rules for newbies". In online matches, you can just play the side pawns at the begin, and the other guy thinks: "hoo, this one is a beginner, let just play my queen and end this fast!", and then when you start to play seriously, he realises that moving the queen was a bad decision! It's called the "newbie open" :)


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