2014 World Chess Championship (Carlsen vs. Anand)

2014 World Chess Championship
Sochi, Russia (November 7th-28th)
NorwayIndiaNorwayIndiaNorwayIndia

 
12
pts.
Carlsen
Anand
Official Site: https://www.sochi2014.fide.com/

Dear Chess Fans!

Today the opening ceremonies will officially launch the 2014 World Chess Championship between champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger, Viswanathan Anand. In this highly-anticipated battle between the young and old generations, it will certainly make for a handsome book afterwards… the changing of the guard, so to speak. Is it really the changing of the guard? With all eyes on Sochi, Russia for the next three weeks, it extends the intrigue of Anand who has been a consummate professional with a storied career.

The Indian legend has held the world title five different times in all three championship formats. His experience will weigh heavily and he tries to reclaim his crown from the man who has become the face of chess. Last year, Carlsen had become the youngest world champion after having shattered many records of Garry Kasparov including the highest Elo rating. While only 23, he does not have the distinctive style of his champion predecessors, but makes up for it in his persistence and will to win. He will try to draw out the games into long maneuvering battles. He describes himself as a cross between Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov.

The 12-game format will begin tomorrow on the 8th and include a total of seven rest days with the tie-breaks on 27th (if needed) and the closing on the 28th. There will be ample coverage from many sites with the official site offering extended functionality of analysis and live commentary done in many languages. Stay tuned for updates!

Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum


114 Comments

  1. When you have to safeguard your assets, you have a lot more to worry than your trespasser. This time around, it should be more electrifying watching how Anand goes about trying to steal grand prize from Mozart‘s assemblage. Not an easy task, but it’s achievable.

  2. Nice article, but I am not buying the view that Magnus has already arrived to the point where he needs to find new challenges to maintain his drive. As revealed by Gary himself, he held the title for 20 years before motivation became an issue. However, I do believe that Carlsen’s primary psychological hurdle going into this rematch will be the consideration that he could actually lose this match and toss the Magnus Carlsen Era into uncertainty.

  3. Opening Press Conference

    The first press conference was done is a very traditional format of a welcoming, introductions, short speeches and a Q&A. FIDE Press Officer Anastasia Kharlovich presided and Polina Tsedenova was the translator. Former World Champion Boris Spassky was in attendance as well as several Women’s World Champions (i.e., Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antoneta Stefanova, Zhu Chen). Speeches were made by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Russian Chess Federation President Andrei Filatov, Chief Organizer Ilya Merenzon followed by the participants Carlsen and Anand.

    At the dais were Polina Tsedenova (translator), World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Russian Chess Federation President Andrei Filatov, Challenger GM Viswanathan Anand, FIDE Press Officer Anastasiya Karlovich, 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov, and the match organizer Ilya Merenzon. Photo by Chessdom.

    Both players stated that they were happy to be here despite giving little elaboration. However, when asked who they had on their teams, Anand immediately and crisply answered, “Sasikiran, Wojtasek and Gajewski”. On the other hand, Carlsen answered, “The Dane and the Hammar” referring to Peter Heine Nielsen and Jon Ludwig Hammar. Most certainly there are other helpers offsite. Another former champion Anatoly Karpov gave some laudatory comments, but also came bearing gifts. The former world champion announced that he has donated two authentic chess sets for the winner

    Magnus Carlsen held certainly questions close to his vest including what he was doodling on a piece of paper. When asked by a Norwegian journalist whether he felt he was the favorite, he responded, “What do you think?” He continued that such a status was meaningless unless one played well.

    There were questions asked of the panel which included the conditions of the playing venue which revealed there would not be a glass cube as seen in Chennai. Other questions were concerning Anand’s attitude after losing his title and then roaring back to win the Candidate’s tournament. He mentioned that he was indeed depressed after the result, but healed after time passed and decided he would pursue another chance.

    Many had speculated that he would retire after his devastating loss. He was also asked about the role of Aruna Anand and he said simply, “Well… she’s kind of a wife” which evoked a 1000-watt smile from the Mrs. The last question of the press conference was interesting which resulted in Carlsen responding, “I’m not a very spiritual person.” Of course, this raises so many other questions that will likely be raised in future interviews.

    Opening Ceremony

    Arguably the world’s most well-known and well-liked chess couple.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    Opening ceremonies are usually a gallant show of pomp and circumstance. The pageantry of these events are usually visually stunning with some sort of chess theme. President Ilyumzhinov officially opened the games and there was a proclamation read from Russian President Vladimir Putin to welcome the world championship to Russia.

    There was a creative method for drawing colors which apparently entertained both Carlsen and Anand. A famous Russian magician asked both players to draw large balloons from a velvet-draped box. Carlsen drew a black balloon and Anand the white. The magician then grabbed the black balloon and with a pen, burst the black balloon from which a black bird apparently emerged. He repeated this trick and Anand was visibly moved by this hocus-pocus. It was a nice touch that did not take away from the formality of the exercise.

    Abracadabra! The players loved it!

    Beautiful chess-themed choreography.

    Igor Burtman… blow that horn!! 😎
    Photos by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    There was wonderful entertainment with performances by beautifully-costumed dancers, pop singer Tina Kuznetsova and an interesting jazz performance by a Russian quartet lead by Igor Burtman. The jazz band was led by a saxophonist who was expressive in his playing. It appeared that the audience were not connoisseurs of jazz from the tepid applause given after the first number. However, at the end of their last number, there were shouts of appreciation typically of a jazz set. In a place with a rich history in classical music, this may have been quite a diversion, but many were appreciative.

    There were a number of dignitaries in the crowd such as Boris Spassky and several former World Champions. The Russian women received medals of merit for winning the Olympiad. Kateryna Lagno was not present to receive her commendation. It was interesting to see Spassky enjoy the festivities. He has had an eventful life and his last few years have been challenging, but he seemed to enjoy being in good company.

    Russia’s Olympiad champion Olga Girya with two former world champions… an ebullient and elegant Antoaneta “Ettie” Stefanova along with Zhu Chen. Photos by Anastasia Kharlovich.

  4. WCC2014-1: Wild Ride… Soft Landing

    The first round of the 2014 World Chess Championship was definitely a bitter fight. Anand must’ve followed the advice of many and tried to steal a point early. In a unexpected Grunfeld, Anand tried to apply central pressure which caused Carlsen to eat up time on the clock. The body language of Carlsen was not optimistic, but his careful handling of the middlegame proved incisive. Anand’s space did not materialize into an attack and soon white’s weaknesses became evident.

    For the last 20 moves of the game, it was Anand who was fighting to stave off all types of mating patterns. In the end, the former champion found the ideal setup and was able to create counterplay on the black king. Tense moment for both players. Carlsen got the worst out of the opening and Anand had to hold a precarious ending. Nevertheless an exciting start to the match.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  5. WCC2014-2: Anand slips, Carlsen ahead

    There was a lot begin made of today’s 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise. When game #2 started 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 all the puns started about the Berlin Wall started, but Carlsen played 4.d3 avoiding a wall that has not been dismantled in top level play. Others anticipated a Najdorf Sicilian.

    While there was no symbolic main line Berlin Defense on the anniversary of the wall’s dismantling, Carlsen dismantled whatever Anand erected.

    Anand was looking for a playable position, but instead fell slightly behind in space. Carlsen surprised even further with 12.Nxb6!? which straighten black’s pawns 12…axb6, but allowed him a freeing 13.d4. Carlsen’s 14.Ra3 is not a typical “ROVER” but the idea is not new. The rook would soon help launch a dangerous attack as four pieces were aimed at the black monarch.

    Carlsen came up with an inventive “ROVER” or “rook up and over” maneuver that eventually helped him gained an edge. Anand later collapsed under pressure.

    According to the official report,

    White’s strategy looked very straightforward and obvious, but it turned out difficult for Black to parry the threats. At the press-conference Anand blamed his 18th move and suggested 18â?¦Qf7 instead, pushing the opponent’s queen away from its strong position. Carlsen agreed with him, saying he did not obtain much out of the opening apart from slight initiative. However, after 19.Rg3 he already was quite optimistic. (see reports)

    While white looks to be attacking it was really a plan to seize control of the center. It was interesting how white abandoned the useless d-file, but got an “Alekhine’s gun” on the e-file to get a decisive advantage. However, Carlsen failed to strike with 29.Re7! and played 29.b3?! This allowed Anand to slide back into the game.

    Anand almost fought his way back into the game, but stuff happened.

    After 32.Qf3! the queen was looking to dominate the position and 32…Rxe4 33.Qxe4 f3+ 34.g3. Anand was now on the verge of saving the position until (with three minutes to make six moves) played the howler 34…h5?? After Carlsen’s 35.Qb7, the game was over immediately. It would have been quite a coup for Anand to survive such a position in time pressure, but it was not to be. (See GM Alejandro Ramirez’s analysis below)

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  6. I’m confused by a line in GM Ramirez’s analysis. When recommending 29. Re7 as an alternative to 29. b3, he gives Black’s response as 29. …Qd6. I’m certainly not qualified to argue with him, but the Rb7 looks like it’s just hanging to me in that line. Perhaps …Qd5 was the intended move (which still looks bad, as it appears Black just starts shedding pawns).

    On another note…sometimes, certain players are just bad matchups due to styles. Perhaps this helps to explain Anand’s indecisiveness when he plays Carlsen. You could see it later in the first game of the match, and it was evident throughout this game. A hallmark of Anand’s style is quick, solid, practical decisions. To this rank amateur, Anand will need to commit himself to that approach if he wants to fight his way back into the match. (Yes, it’s only -1, but it’s also only 12 games.)

  7. Hi Boyd,

    In the line you are mentioning, I believe the threat was 30…f3+ winning the queen.

    I agree. There is something about Anand where he looks like a deer facing headlights. He does look indecisive and is not able to discern Carlsen’s weaknesses. Even when Carlsen makes a blunder, he somehow has second thoughts. In one of the games last year, he said he had blundered when in fact, it was an excellent move (I remember the move as …Rd4!). This is troubling. Hopefully, he will correct this psychological block.

  8. WCC2014-3: Tiger breaks Thor’s hammer!

    A crushing victory by challenger Viswanathan Anand over champion Magnus Carlsen today in a supreme example of opening preparation. Anand admitted in the post-game press conference that he had prepared as far as move 24, but had to check the subtle differences. In fact there were two main games that served as precedences in today’s game… Tomashevsky-Riazantsev and Aronian-Adams.

    From this expression, Carlsen seemed perplexed at this position at move 17. He took a lot of time in the opening and perhaps did not realize that he was in Anand’s preparation the entire time. Later, he praised Anand on his effort. Photo by Chessbase.

    Anand improved on the Aronian-Adams (diagram #1) replacing 20.Qe2?! with 20.fxe4! (diagram #2) seen in Anand-Carlsen. This created lasting pressure and created the positional bind similar to what followed in Tomoshevsky-Riazantsev.

    Anand said that he was familiar with all the material, but in a game of such important, one does not simply play instantaneously. In Tomashevsky-Riazantsev, white played 8.h3 instead of Anand’s 8.Bd3 and won the game cleanly in 36 moves. While this game deviated earlier it was even closer than Aronian-Adams which did not deviate until move 20 with Aronian’s 20.Qe2. Thus, Anand’s choice seems to be an improvement most certainly found by his team. Like a Tiger on the prowl, Anand followed the Tomashevsky example to arrive at almost the exact position after 26.Rc6.

    Notice that the position of Tomoshevsky-Riazantsev (diagram #3) is virtually the same except the pawn on h3. Anand bore in deeply with 22. Qc6 bxa3 23. exd5 Rxd5 24. Qxb6 Qd7 25. O-O (25.Qa6 was suggested by GM Teimour Radjabov) 25…Rc8 26.Rc6 (diagram #4) and black was unable to find any counterplay despite radical attempts after 26…g5?

    With Carlsen suffering the entire game, he lashed out with the desperado 26…g5? which brought all types of condemnation in Twittersphere and from the broadcasts. However, Anand felt that the position was still complicated and had to be wary of allowing counterplay. However, the 27…Bb4 and 28…Ba5 moves were simply losing. Anand finished cleanly with 33.e6! Kf8 34.Rc1 trebling on the bishop. Carlsen resigned.

    …and the match is even! Anand had to be pleased with the performance and also relieved to have evened the score after a nice comeback. This will be a match of wits as well. Now it is Carlsen’s turn to weather a loss. Photo by Chessbase.

    Social networks blew up immediately citing Anand’s first victory in a world championship match against Carlsen and the first classical victory in nearly four years in 25 games. This is new territory for Carlsen who is defending his crown for the first time and also having to deal with a bad loss in such a situation. It is one thing to lose from a blunder, but another to be totally out-prepared and not have a chance to play normal chess.

    Certainly the Carlsen Team will have to go back to the drawing board to repair the damage. Thor’s hammer has been broken… or was it his Hammer that was broken? Whomever was in charge of the preparation (GMs Jon Ludwig Hammer or Peter Heine Nielsen) will have to replicate the success of the first match and steer Anand from his legendary prep which commentator Peter Svidler touts as “top five” in history. Time will tell… a battle within a battle continues!

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  9. I believe Anand said something that is very important. Much was made in social networks of his preparation as if he simply banged out the moves from memory. Of course, his preparation was deep and thorough. When the question was asked by chess.com’s Peter Doggers about his preparation and the Tomashevsky-Riazantsev game, he stated

    “I am or was familiar with all the material, but of course that are differences in every position with h3 and without … I also had to check other openings. It’s not like I spent all day on this line. I had to check other stuff as well, but luckily i managed to play this quite well and remembered what to do.”

  10. WCC2014-4: No fireworks in Sicilian


    Fire on board? Not today.

    Just when it appeared that we were heading for another swashbuckling fight, the world champion ended that hope with 3.g3 instead of 3.d4. Of course, a Najdorf or Scheveningen is not where Carlsen would want to go since Anand is at home in those complications. He chose a slow system that has positional bite, but should offer black chances to gain a fluid game. That’s exactly what happened.

    The game continued with a light skirmish for the center after 9…Bg4 10.Qd3. The position got a bit interesting after white played the odd-looking 15.Qf1!? but black was doing well at this point. After black made a few concession and developed a defensive posture, Carlsen was able to obtain a better structure, but black has little to worry about. Even in the end, black’s active queen was able to maintain the balance.

    Interesting posture adopted a couple of times in this match.
    Photo by Chessbase.

    This game did not have much character and the press conference was not inspiring either. Carlsen criticized his play saying, “I thought I played terribly.” He appeared to be in a very somber mood often taking long pauses to deliver his answers. Anand did not have much to reveal in his answers and they seem to be laconically similar to those in previous conferences. Certainly the audience will have to prepare more incisive questions.

    Here was an interesting question. Not sure if it was serious or not, but both players politely answered.

    It lead to…

    With eight rounds to go, both players will rest on tomorrow and Anand will have white on Friday. After game five, both players will play the same color two games in a row.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  11. WCC2014-5: Tense draw… match still tied

    The Tiger didn’t catch any prey today.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    Very exciting day today at the World Chess Championships between world champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Viswanathan Anand. With Anand playing the white pieces, he opted for 1.d4 and faced the surprising Queen’s Indian. Anand showed the depth of his preparation once again as he had no way of knowing that Carlsen was going to essay the QID, but played some enterprising moves. For example, 13.d6!? was a tricky move requiring care as black to avoid getting a worse position. On 13…Bxg2 white plays 14.dxe7 Qxe7 15.dxe5 Bxf1 16.exf6 Qxf6 17.Qxf1 and white has two minor pieces for a rook… clearly for choice.

    Carlsen opted for 13…Nc6 14.dxe7 Qxe7 15.Bg5 h6 16.d5! There were a couple of queen sack variations stemming from 16…Rad8 17.Bxf6 Qxf6 18.dxc6! Rxd1 19.Rxd1 with compensation. Anand continued to forge ahead with 20.Nd5! sending Carlsen into a think. The champion had to tread carefully at this point. If on 20…Qxb2, then white wins two pieces for a rook in a long, forced variation. Carlsen had a keen sense to take the knight end though it would render his knight immobile on the rim.

    This was a tense moment for Carlsen. He decided on 23…Qf6 and treaded safely.
    Photo by Chessbase.

    Finally, Carlsen bit with 22…Qxb2 which receive condemnation from the commentators. Now a pawn down, white compensates by applying immense pressure on the central files most notably the f7-square. With a high sense of danger, Carlsen played 23…Qf6 and faced 24.Qxf6 gxf6 25.Re7 Kg7. White could have improved on 26.Rxa7 with 26.Kg2 threatening 27.Bxf7! However, after taking the pawn, the game had reached a critical moment. The commentators felt that Anand still had some slight chances after 26…Nc6 27.Ra4 stifling the knight and going for a superior ending versus black’s weakened pawn structure. Hikaru Nakamura disagreed.

    After 27.Rb7?! the game transpired into a quick liquidation and they shook hands. This must certainly be an uncomfortable position for Carlsen as he was under pressure once again. Team Anand seems to be getting the better of Team Carlsen in terms of preparation, but with the match still tied, Carlsen can press with white for the next two games.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  12. WCC2014-6: Knightmare loss for Anand!

    “Sometimes you’re very, very lucky.”
    ~Magnus Carlsen

    The chess world is still buzzing on social media about today’s game in which blunders were traded. After having played a rather unambitious version of the Kan Sicilian, Viswanathan Anand allowed Magnus Carlsen to create pressure on the kingside and tried to solve his problems tactically. While white had the advantage, it appeared that black would be able to mount adequate counterplay. Then the unthinkable happened… the move that sent tremors around the chess world… 26.Kd2?? was played!!

    26.Kd2?? will now become an infamous footnote in history.

    Round 6 Press Conference

    Video by chess.com

    You can clearly see Carlsen pause to write move after making it. Then when Anand played 26…a4, he put his head down in disgust… twice!

    No… it wasn’t a transmission error and 26.Kd2?? was on the board. Anand took little time to play 26…a4?? to a sigh of relief of Carlsen fans… and of course Carlsen himself. Why? Because Anand had missed a rare opportunity at this level to win a game for free with 26…Nxe5! netting material after 27.Rxg8 Nxc4+ 28.Kd3 (28.Ke2 Rxg8 with the advantage) 28…Nb2+, recapturing the rook and then hitting g2. Whenever a player (at any level) realizes such a missed opportunity it is hard to keep composure in the game at hand. Anand must’ve been rattled and begin to go downhill quickly.

    An exasperated Anand failed to regain composure. Photo capture from chess24.com.

    There is no way to explain the double-blindness that occurred other than the human element of fear, nervousness and tension accented by adrenalin infusion. One can have a blind spot in any given game, but it rarely happens at world championship level. Carlsen, who looked a bit disturbed at the beginning of the press conference, could not explain his error, but mentioned that he saw his blunder immediately after completing the move. “That’s always the way it is,” he stated. In his immense respect for Anand, he restrained his glee until the end and finally broke a smile.

    Anand was visibly shellshocked but could only offer that “when you’re not expecting a gift, sometimes you don’t take it.” True enough, but this was no ordinary gift. He offered that he was fixated on the …a5-a4-a3 idea during the game. Due to the egregious nature of the errors, the press conference focused on the Kd2 blunder with several permutations of the same question. Anand handled the situation quite admirably. Press Officer Anastasia Kharlovich had to finally tell the journalists to move on to other questions besides “Kd2”. Of course, there would be one more after that.


    “When you’re not expecting a gift, sometimes you don’t take it.”
    ~Viswanathan Anand


    This has to be a setback for Anand since there is no amount of preparation that can correct this. Of course, Anand could have played a more ambitious line of the Sicilian, but he will have to face white again after the rest day. Anand has come back many times in his career including in this very match where he matched Carlsen’s win with one of his own… in brilliant fashion. He and his team will have to find the chink in Thor’s armour… a suit that does not seem impenetrable.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  13. After Anand decided to exchange his knight, he was forced to defend like a madman. His fate was in the balance for quite some time; he burned his time, but found just the right move to survive. But, having to defend for so long had to be draining. Unfortunately, tomorrow is not a rest day. You have to wonder how many more marathons this 43 year old tiger can endure before he breakdown. This is very interesting!

  14. WCC2014-7: Tortuous battle drawn in 122 moves

    Game seven battle almost broke a record for moves played in a world championship match. Photo by Vladimir Barsky.

    A lot has been made of Magnus Carlsen’s youth in this match against the middle-aged Viswanathan Anand. Perhaps too much is being made of this, but today’s game would put these theories to the test. Unlike game two’s flirtation with the Berlin, the game entered a topical variation and both were ready for a theoretical fight. The game followed a line played in several GM-level games including Giri-Radjabov (1/2, 52). However, Anand was the first to deviate with 25…Nf7 instead of 25…f5.

    Apparently Anand’s subsequent knight maneuver was dubious as it led to him have to sacrifice a piece and hold a difficult ending. After white’s 28.Ng3, Anand thought for 30 minutes and must have felt something had gone wrong after 28…Ne5. A forcing line ensued after 29.Rh8+ Rg8 30.Bxe5 fxe5 (30…Rxh8 31.Bxf6+) 31.Rh5. In most variations white ends up with dangerous steamrolling pawns which would afford white good winning chances and probably the end of the match.

    After 33.Rxe5, black had to play actively.

    Anand played the zinger in 31…Bxg4! and a battle within a battle was launched. After the piece sacrifice, fans had to turn off the chess engines which are materialistic and still don’t understand the nuances of some unbalanced endings. After 33.Rxe5 b6, Stockfish gave white a 2.22 evaluation. Most others agree that there was a lot of chess to be played… literally.

    For the next 40 moves, white was trying to immobilize the black pawns and create threats, but the white couldn’t help because the black rook would harass it endlessly. Anand came up with the study-like 70…bxc4! and paralyzed white’s progress after 76…Rc3! White’s last pawn was eliminated and while white eventually rounded up black’s pawns, he couldn’t win the R+N vs. R ending after trying for 20 moves.

    Carlsen tried to crack Anand’s fortress, but it was in vain.

    So Anand holds the draw and it should give him a sense of relief and satisfaction, but he has to go back at it tomorrow after this 122-move marathon. Much is being made of the drain on Anand’s energy, but it appears that he is up to the task. His team will force the issue with some deep prep from the white side to pull even. Meanwhile, another win by Carlsen would put him in the driver’s seat to defend his title.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  15. WCC2014-8: Draw! Zzzzzzzzzz!

    Today’s eighth game for the World Chess Championship was perhaps the most uneventful encounter with only a few moments of tension. However it wasn’t the draw that was necessarily evoking boredom. It was the posture of world champion Magnus Carlsen sleeping at the board that was captured in countless photos and viewed by millions on various media. Carlsen was seen in various degrees of inattention which included slumping with his eyes closed and his hand propping his head up at an angle.

    Photos by Vladimir Barsky and video captures at sochi2014.fide.com.

    There were some remarks of condemnation on social networks (primarily chess.com) calling the posture “disrespectful to Anand,” “classless” and “inappropriate”. Some even used expletives. Of course one can argue whether or not his untoward posture at the board was a horrible image for millions of viewers (including potential sponsors). Many of us have seen politicians fall asleep during important deliberations and even the occasional chess player sleeping during the round. However, to see the world chess champion falling asleep at the board during the world championship may be unprecedented. It certainly did not help the global image of chess as a watchable and potentially exciting event.

    When discussing this match, many looked at the physical fitness as one of the elements that would yield an advantage to Carlsen… especially after a 6-1/2, 122-move game the previous day. However, Anand looked fit as a fiddle and Carlsen looked a physical wreck at the board. Perhaps there was a bit too much made of the age difference and fitness regiment since conventional wisdom is not holding up here. Carlsen seemed to be in poor physical shape early in the early part of the game. At the press conference, a few reporters were persistent in asking about his sluggishness. Following were some of the questions about his physical condition.

    Question #1: Magnus, it seemed that you fall (sic) asleep at the start of the game. Were you tired after yesterday’s game?
    Magnus: I was not in the best of shape to start, but felt that I managed to be fresher as the game progressed.

    Question #2: Magnus, how do you feel the short game will affect you going into the rest day and the rest of the games?
    Magnus: It was a good result for me… for sure. Obviously as the match prgresses the free days become more valuable.

    Question #3: You said you were not in the best of shape in the beginning. Can you elaborate?
    Magnus: No.

    Question #4: Does it worry you that you were not in the best of shape?
    Magnus: As I said, felt better as the game progressed… and was a good result for me and now I have a free day so I’m not too worried,

    Question #5: So you don’t think it will be a problem in the games to come?
    Magnus: I hope not.

    He did not reveal why he he appeared sluggish at the board, but reports state that he got up at 9am to prepare with his team. He did not want to reveal whether it was a health issue or whether the was simply off of his normal routine somehow the previous night. Fortunately, for him the draw was quick and he benefited from a rather straightforward game without mind-dizzying complications.The draw was indeed a “good result”.

    Anand’s ending had an interesting precedent…
    Hammer-Zoler at 30th Andorra Open (2012).

    The game was another Queen’s Gambit Declined which has become a theme in this match. It was dubbed by Nigel Short as a “condom variation” which you use once and throw away. When informed at the press conference at the new name, Carlsen was asked if he will reuse it. He said, “We’ll see.” Of course this game has a few twists with Carlsen’s 10…Be7!? and Anand’s Bf1-c4-a2-b1 with a battery on b1-h7 diagonal. However, the attack could never yield an substantive attack and the game entered a rather level ending.

    Jon Ludwig Hammer admitted that he won an ending almost identical. While the similarities are shocking there were some differences, most notably the strength of the defending player! It is uncertain whether Anand knew of this example.

    Anand-Carlsen (diagram #1) bore a striking resemblance to an ending played by Carlsen’s second! Notice the similarities! It had the same piece and pawn composition, but in Hammer-Zoler (diagram #2), white was able to win despite black’s king being already centralized. The final zugzwang maneuver was instructive.

    Hammer tweeted a link to this referenced game…

    The ensuing four-game mini-match may be one the most important in Anand’s long career. Since we are on the subject of sleep, Carlsen will be careful not wake a “sleeping giant” or a sleeping tiger. Stay tuned!

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  16. WCC2014-9: Carlsen still +1 after quick draw

    The game was not nearly as gallant as this photo. Beautiful shot showing the tense moments building in the match! Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    Not much excitement in today’s game, but the 20-move draw in the Berlin Defense has set the stage for what is to be a grand finale of the 2014 World Championship. There is still an exciting subplot with Magnus Carlsen clinging to a one-point lead and facing two whites in the last three games. Viswanathan Anand’s team will be working to produce a stunner tomorrow before the rest day. The idea may be to steal a game before the break and put more pressure on the champion.

    What will the respective teams be planning in terms of preparation? Will Anand vie for 1.d4, 1.e4 or 1.Nf3? Will we see a slugfest tomorrow or a position grind? Will Anand go for an all-out assault and apply pressure? Tension is mounting and it is not certain who will crack first. Carlsen already escaped after Anand missed a catastrophic blunder in game seven and was lethargic in game eight. Former world champion Garry Kasparov gave his assessment on both players.

    and on Anand…

    Despite the quick draw today, both players can be assured that the game will reflect a competitive bout. There has been much more intrigue than the Chennai match, one that was decided early. Carlsen admitted that Anand was a bit more prepared that he was today. The champion also admitted that his play in the match has been a bit uneven despite his +1 lead. Anand on the other hand has to force the issue, take risks and evoke complications. We are in for quite a ride.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  17. Magnus offers draws when he’s satisfied that he’s exhausted all means. Anand accepts draws when Magnus sticks his hand out. Anand needs to push further and he really has one more chances to do that. Nxe5 will haunt him for quite some time.

  18. WCC2014-10: Curry hot + Nordic cool = draw

    Carlsen avoided a landmine today, but can he withstand the pressure?

    Today was a key game of the match and many thought that Viswanathan Anand was going to press for a win against Magnus Carlsen. The Tiger from Madras was definitely on the prowl after facing a Grunfeld Defense in which he faced a rather less contemporary treatment from the world champion. The move 7…Na6 has had some discussion in the past but had fallen out of favor. Did the Carlsen Team come up with a novelty perhaps?

    Certainly 7…a6 is the latest, but the text follows Anand-Kasparov, 1999 which would be in the challenger’s terrain. So why would Carlsen go for this? We would soon find out. The battle took on typical Grunfeld characteristics with active black pieces and a central advantage for white. However, black was soon struggling to avoid being caught flat-footed. The game followed another in history and Wojtaszek-Ponomariov, 2012. Anand sharpened his sword with Wojtaszek’s 12.Bg5!? and the Carlsen Team came of with the wrinkle after 12…h6 13.Be3 Bf5 14.Rad1 Ne4!?


    Anand tried to heat things up a bit,
    but Carlsen kept his cool.


    There was a thought that white had a strong advantage to press for the advantage with 19.d6 instead of the text 19.Ng5. Even with this move Carlsen stated that he didn’t think his road to equality would be easy. However, after 19…Bd4! it seemed that black had stifled the strength of the d-pawn a bit. Carlsen also got help from Anand after 26…Be5 27.Bxe5 Rxe5 28.Bxb7? Most were saying that 28.g3 kept the options open because after 28…Rxb7 29.d7 Nc6 30.d8(Q)+ Rxd8 31.Rxd8+ Kg7 32.Rd2 the game was draw quietly. Shipov made this comment about Anand’s form.

    What a pity.

    However, there are still two games left and Carlsen has not shown good form and could just as well be down a game. The Anand team will come up with a sharp novelty in an attempt to win in game 11. If Anand wins with black, it would put immense pressure on Carlsen. If they draw, then game 12 will be a tense bout. If Carlsen wins, the match is simply over.

    While Anand has proven to be more stable in this match, his play has not translated into winning results. Perhaps we will see him unleash the Sicilian in order to steer the game into favorable complications. Meanwhile, Carlsen will try to close out the match with a win to avoid a tense finale after another rest day.

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  19. WCC2014-11: Carlsen defends Title 6½-4½!

    Congratulations GM Magnus Carlsen, World Champion!

    Norway Norway Norway

    After Magnus Carlsen won a tense Berlin Ruy Lopez, he could proclaim, “Ich bin ein Champion!” In a game in which he was under serious pressure from Viswanathan Anand, he kept his Nordic cool and waded through the complications… particularly after Anand’s stunning 23…b5!! Later Carlsen capitalized off over the overzealous 27…Rb4?, gobbled the exchange, collected the point and the match.

    In the post-game press conference, Anand felt that his exchange sacrifice was motivated by nervous energy that built up over many moves. The also stated that Carlsen’s nerves were a bit more stable during the match. In fact, this was not apparent and there was the infamous 6th game where the champion walked into a blunder with 26.Kd2?? There was the tenth game when Carlsen was out of sorts at the board and Anand agreed to a quick draw.

    26.Kd2?? will now become an infamous footnote in history.

    It appeared that Anand created many changes to win in the match, but he was not able to go forth at the right moments. Nevertheless, he gave a good account of himself and put up a valiant fight. When asked if he planned to retire from chess, Anand gave a curt reply, “No.” That received applause. Anand gained many supporter and was lauded for his comeback at the Candidates. However, there would be some melancholy moods.

    As for Carlsen, he successful defends his title for the first knowing that many upstarts were watching for chink in his Thor armor. There are a number of candidates who may be competing for the crown in 2016 and two of them are playing a match in St. Louis right now. Of course Fabiano Caruana is solidly #2 on the Elo rating list and others such as Wesley So and Chinese Yu Yangyi and Ding Liren are still improving. Exciting times for chess!

    Video by GM Daniel King.

  20. WCC2014: Closing Ceremonies

    Magnus Carlsenstops to sign autographs.
    Photo by Vladimir Barsky.

    Viswanathan Anand and wife Aruna Anand exchanging pleasantries with former champion Anatoly Karpov. Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    Magnus Carlsen was re-crowned as the world champion, a berth that will last until 2016. He defeated challenger Viswanathan Anand 6.5-4.5 in an exciting, albeit imperfect match. The match was viewed by millions in nearly 200 countries. The results were announced by Chief Arbiter Andrzej Filipowicz.

    The closing ceremony brought both competitors on the stage to receive commendations and most importantly the champion’s cup and wreath presented to Carlsen by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin made congratulatory remarks before the award presentation. It was the first time a Head-of-State had made such remarks to the champion.

    FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov preparing to award medals.
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

    President Vladimir Putin on stage with challenger Viswanathan Anand, champion Magnus Carlsen and FIDE President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Photo by Vladimir Barsky.

    Carlsen gives his remarks after receiving the trophy.

    In his remarks, Carlsen thanked his team (including his doctor and cook) for their diligence during the match. He also gave thanks to the fans and in a touch of class, honored his opponent Viswanathan Anand. Ilyumzhinov made additional comments extolling the success of the match and its organization. He mentioned that Putin opened the door for the match to be held in Russia. Leading up to the match, the match had no bidders. However, he has already announced that the World Championship in 2016 will be held in the USA.

    Vintage autographed board.

    GM Magnus Carlsen, World Champion
    Photo by Anastasia Kharlovich.

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