What is wrong with 10...Ne4 instead of 10...Nd7?

It seems to me that it was a better move -> Black exchanges one more piece which relieves his cramped position and he obtains the bishop pair.

Can someone explain why 10...Ne4 is inferior to 10...Nd7?

Here is the position I am talking about:

[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Anand, Vishwanathan"]
[Event "WCC 2014"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "r1bk3r/1p3ppp/p1p1pn2/4P3/1bP5/2N5/PP3PPP/R1B1KB1R b KQ - 0 1 "]

  • 1
    GM Bojkov: In case of 10... Ne4 11. a3! is very strong, for example 11... Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 and if 12... Nxc3 13. a4 Ne4 14. Be3 Black will have problems with both his knight and the dark squares. Nov 15 '14 at 20:33
  • @DagOskarMadsen: Yes, Black will have problems if he takes with the knight, yet if he simply retreats and posts knight on c5 I believe he can reach full equality. I will check this with an engine when I get more time ( things are becomming "hairy" on work -> tight deadlines and similar stuff... ) and strength ( analysis of the game 3 wore me down to be honest ). Thanks for the analysis :) Nov 15 '14 at 20:49

10...Ne4 doesn't help Black preserve the bishop pair. After the surprising move 11.a3!, Black is forced to take the knight on c3 with the bishop and then we reach a position similar to the one in the game, except that Black's knight is on a more vulnerable e4 square than on a safe square like d7. The pawn on c3 cannot be captured without a significant positional loss to Black.

   [FEN "r1bk3r/1p3ppp/p1p1pn2/8/1bP1P3/2N5/PP3PPP/R1B1KB1R w KQ - 0 10"]
   [White "Carlsen"]
   [Black "Anand"]

   1. e5 Ne4 2. a3! Bxc3+ (2... Nxc3?? 3. axb4 Ne4 4. f3! +-) (2... Ba5 3. b4 Nxc3
   4. bxa5+=) 3. bxc3 Kc7 (3... Nxc3? 4. a4! Ne4 5. Be3 f6 6. Bd3 Ng5 7. O-O
   Nf7 8. exf6 gxf6 9. f4 +=) 4. Be3 b6 5. Bd3 Nc5 6. Bxc5 bxc5 7. O-O-O+=
  • Sadly, it seems that Black can't equalize here... After looking through analysis of other GMs online ( ChessBase, Chess.com and many many others ) and after running this through engine I must agree that Black will be left without any counterplay but with seemingly solid position. I have tried to invent counterplay and to find a move to bring back Black into the game but it seems impossible with all that space and development advantage from White. +1 for thorough coverage ( this question and answer to it should be useful to others as well! ). Best regards. Nov 16 '14 at 2:13

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