Home Page Chess Life Online Archives Rogers on Chennai: Carlsen Leads 4-2 after Anand Collapse
|Rogers on Chennai: Carlsen Leads 4-2 after Anand Collapse|
|By GM Ian Rogers|
|November 16, 2013|
The monsoon rains came to Chennai on Saturday, the rains so strong that parts of the Hyatt Regency hotel, the World Championship venue were scattered with buckets and towels to contain unexpected leaks.
The rain matched the mood in India after a couple of bleak days which saw their greatest ever cricketer play his last innings and then retire, and their greatest ever chessplayer losing twice.
The cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, has the status of a demi-god in India, a country where cricket is often talked of as a religion. Chess is big in India, though nowhere near cricket.
Tendulkar's face would be known by almost every Indian and his endorsements exceed those of Anand by at least a factor of ten. Anand has, however, toppled Tendulkar for a number of major awards, including Sportsman of the Millenium in 1998 and Greatest Indian Sportsman of All Time in 2010.
While during the period of the world title match Anand and/or Carlsen have been on the front page of newspapers on a daily basis, Tendulkar has been on every front page, every back page, and many pages in between - one newspaper added a 12 page supplement about his career.
Yet one could hardly accuse the Indian media of skimping on their chess coverage. In a move unthinkable to their cash-strapped US counterparts, one national paper has decided to task seven reporters and photographers with the job of covering the world title match comprehensively, stretching deadlines for the first edition if a particularly long game has taken place.
As reported earlier in CLO, the early signs in the world title match were positive for the local hero Viswanathan Anand, as he drew the first four games with favourite Magnus Carlsen.
Since then, however, the full houses at the Chennai venue have witnessed two games of the type for which Carlsen has become famous; long, drawn-out endgames where Carlsen attempts to convert the smallest of advantages into a point.
Friday's game five saw the first decisive game of the match.
Chennai World Championship Match Game 5
Position: After White's 34th move
After a neutral opening, Carlsen took the queens off the board and started probing. Contrary to popular opinion, Carlsen believed he had a small edge but after
The challenger, as he explained afterwards, decided that Black's counterplay was so strong that he had to be careful not to be worse.
Now Carlsen spent eight of his remaining 15 minutes – Anand had 9 – before playing.
with a very firm hand and a poker face.
As a bluff, the body language worked like a charm. Anand admitted after the game that he thought he must have miscalculated and was lost, wishing he had played 34...Rg8!?, with the idea of meeting 35.Rh6 with 35...Bg6.
The next few moves were played quite quickly
35...Bd1 36.Bb1! Rb5 37.Kc3
but now Anand started to think again
37...c5 [05.19] 38.Rb2 [04.36] e5! [04.18]
Preparing what Anand thought was desperate but necessary counterplay, the immediate 38...a4 being met by 39.b4.
39.Rg6 [1.34] a4 [03.41]
This had been prepared by Black's 38th move, but 39...g4 would have been safer.
40.Rxg5 [00.44] Rxb3+ [01.17] 41.Rxb3 Bxb3 42.Rxe5+
The time control having been reached, Carlsen settled down to calculate his way through the complications. After the game he mentioned the cute variation 42.Bd3 c4! with the point that 43.Rxe5+ Kd6 44.Kxd4 cxd3! unexpectedly wins for Black.
42...Kd6 43.Rh5 Rd1! 44.e5+ Kd5 45.Bh7
In the 9 minutes Anand spent on this move, the computer engines and the pundits were confident that Anand would find 45...Ra1! 46.Bg8+ Kc6 47.Bxb3 Rxa3 with an easy draw, e.g. 48.Kc4 axb3 49.Rh6+ Kd7 50.Kc3 Ra2 and White cannot keep both kingside pawns.
46.Kb2 Rg1 [0.28]
Another seven minutes gone, the time probably spent looking at the desperation variation 46...Re1 47.Bg8+ Ke4!?
47.Bg8+ Kc6 48.Rh6+!
Played very quickly, but, if he had not already mentally given up, Anand would have realized that this was another moment where he has some very serious choices
The active 48...Kb5 only just fails to 49.Bxb3 axb3 50.Kxb3 Rxg2 51.a4+ Ka5 52.Rxh4 Re2 53.Kc4! Rxe5 54.Rh8! when Black is probably lost, but the unlikely 48...Kc7! might just hold. After 49.Bxb3 axb3 50.Kxb3 Rxg2 51.Rxh4 Black can continue 51...Re2! when it seems that White has nothing better than 52.a4 (52.Rh5 Kc6! 53.a4 Re3+ offers White nothing.) 52...Rxe5 53.Kc4 Kb6 54.Rh6+ Kc7 when even if White wins the c pawn (as he probably will, there are plenty of theoretically drawn positions where the superior side has two extra rook pawns. (Check it out in your Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual – it's not enough to own the book; reading it helps as well.)
49.Bxb3 axb3 50.Kxb3 Rxg2 51.Rxh4 Ke6?
Now Black's cause is definitely hopeless. 51...Kc6 was stronger, but probably not good enough after 52.a4 Re2 53.Kc4 Rc2+ 54.Kd3 Ra2 55.Re4 Kd7 56.h4. However 51...Re2!? would keep the game alive and make Carlsen's technical task very difficult.
52.a4! Kxe5 53.a5 Kd6 54.Rh7
Played with a flourish – Carlsen knew he was going to win now.
54...Kd5 55.a6 c4+ 56.Kc3 Ra2 57.a7 Kc5 58.h4 1–0
The handshake was greeted by a smattering of applause from the 350 spectators, a few of whom had mistakenly thought that the game had been agreed drawn. (They were put straight by their neighbours and, eventually, 1-0 going up on the display board.) A despondent crowd emerged from the dark of the Hyatt ballroom into the Chennai evening light.
Worse was to follow the next day. Playing the first of two consecutive Whites, Anand's camp indicated that solid play would be the order of the day, since a second loss would be disastrous.
Sure enough, Anand played solidly but nearing the first time control, and under no time pressure, Anand had a brain fade...
Chennai World Championship Match Game 6
Position: After Black's 37th move
A bizarre blunder, which Anand could not explain after the game.
38.Qf4 would hold the balance without difficulties.
38...Rxe4 39.Qxd6 Rxe3 40.Qxe7 Rxe7 41.Rd5 Rb7
Presumably Anand had thought that the rook endgame would be easily drawn, but he soon realized otherwise. However he now starts defending excellently.
42.Rd6! f6 43.h4 Kf7?!
43...h5 would retain good winning chances. Black's winning plan would involve manoeuvring his rook to f5 (via e7 and e5) and then bringing his king to the queenside.
Now the Black rook can never find a stable square on f5.
44...gxh5 45.Rd5 Kg6 46.Kg3 Rb6 47.Rc5 f5 48.Kh4!
Careful play. 48.Kf4?! looks far more natural but after 48...h4! White must avoid 49.Rxf5? Rf6! 50.Rxf6+ Kxf6 51.Kg4
when, incredibly, Black wins this pawn ending by a tempo after 51...Ke5! 52.Kxh4 Kf4!.
Black's last hope.
49.Rxb5 Re4+ 50.Kh3 Kg5 51.Rb8 h4 52.Rg8+ Kh5 53.Rf8 Rf4 54.Rc8
By now Anand was 100% sure that he had a draw in hand, and he was spending little more than a minute per move.
54...Rg4 55.Rf8 Rg3+ 56.Kh2 Kg5
And now, one moment of carelessness ruins five hours of hard work...
Immediately Anand knew what he had done, but both players understood that there was no saving White any more. (They were wrong, by the way.)
58.Rc8 Ke3! 59.Rxc4 f4 60.Ra4?
The logical defence, aiming for checks from the side.
Computer programs showed that White can draw with the ridiculous looking 60.b4, when the b pawn provides counterplay just in time. At the post-game press conference neither player believed it, Carlsen labeling the move “much too slow”.
It is hard to know what was more amazing – the move 60.b4 or the fact that most commentators in Chennai expected Anand to find such a non-intuitive move.
60...h3! 61.gxh3 Rg6!
From here until the finish, Carlsen plays with absolute precision.
62.c4 f3 63.Ra3+ Ke2 64.b4 f2 65.Ra2+ Kf3 66.Ra3+ Kf4 67.Ra8
67.Ra1 loses to 67...Re6 followed by 68...Re1.
So does Anand have any chance to retain his world title?
Everything about the course of the match to date indicates otherwise, in particular Anand's two fade-outs in the fourth and fifth hour and most worryingly Anand's pessimism about his play.
Perhaps failing to beat Carlsen since 2010 has taken a psychological toll on Anand since there has hardly been a game in Chennai where the World Champion has not underestimated his chances and overrated Carlsen's positions.
In game 3 Anand thought his advantage was not enough to win and therefore failed to look for a possible winning combination.
In game four he deemed himself “basically lost” even though he had reasonable compensation for the pawn he had sacrificed in the opening.
In game 5 above he missed draw after draw because he thought he was doomed and in game 6 he might have had a chance of finding the move 60 saver had he not already mentally resigned.
In order to beat Carlsen twice in the next six games, Anand has first of all to believe he can do so. That will be hard enough, but then he must play better than Carlsen, a task he looked capable of early in the match but now seems a distant prospect.
Anand has 24 hours to turn his mental state around (and perhaps find a winning novelty in the Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez).
Failing that, the chess world will have a new World Champion before the month is out.