Friday, November 8, 2013

Off-topic: Anand v Carlsen World Chess Championship 2013 match

I have often wondered if any Shroudies are chess-players like me, so with the Anand v Carlsen World Chess Championship match starting tomorrow-Saturday 9 November, I am using this off-topic post to find out.

[Above: Magnus Carlsen (centre), the new World Chess Champion, having drawn the 10th game of his match with Viswanathan Anand (right) on 22 November 2013, giving Carlsen 6½ points (3 wins and 7 draws) to Anand's 3½ (0 wins and 7 draws) in the best of 12 games match: YouTube]

I was the second highest rated chess player in Western Australia in 1967, with a rating of 2070, but I gave competitive chess away for ~45 years until August 2012 when I joined the Perth Chess Club. I am gradually regaining my chess `mojo' but my rating now is only 1782 and I doubt that I will ever get back to 2070.

I will try to watch the match live, since the timezone is favourable to me (the games start at 5:30 pm Perth, Western Australia time). But even when I am away from my computer, I have installed the Official App of the FIDE World Championship Match 2013 (Android version-there is also an Apple version) on my smartphone and hope to keep up with the moves in each game as they are played.

I am tipping India's 43 year-old defending World Champion, Viswanathan Anand (the

[Right: Viswanathan Anand, the defending World Chess Champion, 2013: Wikipedia]

underdog) to win against Norway's 22 year-old Magnus Carlsen, the world's highest rated player. World Championship Chess matches are quite different from normal tournament play and Anand is by far the most experienced in

[Left: Magnus Carlsen, World Chess Championship challenger, 2013: Wikipedia]

that format, having played for and won the World Chess Championship in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013, whereas this is Carlsen's first World Championship match.

I will update this post with my comments on each game and chess-playing Shroudie readers (if any) can comment on the games below this post.

Game 1, Carlsen v Anand, Sat 9-Nov-13, ½-½. This first game

[Above: The final position of game 1, after 16... Nc4, with Carlsen (white) about to play 17.Qb3.]

of the match started off as a Reti Opening and transposed into a Gruenfeld Defence. By move 9 the game had diverged from standard opening theory, each player trying to avoid prepared analysis. After only 16 moves the game was drawn by three-fold repetition of the same position: 13...Na5 14. Qa3 Nc4 15. Qb3 Na5 16. Qa3 Nc4 and Carlsen informed the Arbiter that he was about to play 17. Qb3, which would repeat the same position three times, and hence be a draw under the FIDE Laws of Chess 9.2:

"The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for at least the third time (not necessarily by sequential repetition of moves) a. is about to appear, if he first writes his move on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move, or b. has just appeared, and the player claiming the draw has the move."
Anand as black had a slight advantage and it was Carlsen who had to seek the draw, in his own words at the post-match press conference, to "pull the emergency brake." It was therefore an important psychological victory to Anand.

Game 2, Anand v Carlsen, Sun 10-Nov-13, ½-½. The second

[Above: The final position of game 2, after 25...Kg8. The players agreed to a draw since if Anand plays 26. Rg3 the same position would have occurred three times, and hence be a draw as in the first game.]

game of the match was a Caro-Kann Defence. With the white pieces, the 43 year-old Anand carried out his match strategy of seeking sharp tactical play to avoid long drawn-out `boring' positional games which are the 22 year-old Carlsen forte. However Carlsen nullified Anand's king-side attack by exchanging pieces and had started his own attack against Anand's queen-side castled king. Anand therefore found a way to force Carlsen to agreed to a draw by three-fold repetition (as in the first game) or else Carlsen would have a worse position. So the game was agreed drawn after Black's 25...Kg8. Since if the 12-game match is drawn, there will be a series of four rapid tie-break games and as Anand is probably the better rapid player, therefore draws probably put added pressure on Carlsen.

Game 3, Carlsen v Anand, Tue 12-Nov-13, ½-½. This third

[Above: The final position after Anand's 51... Bxg3+ taking Carlsen's last pawn and leaving a position with a king and a bishop each only, which is insufficient material to checkmate.]

game of the match was another draw, but this time after 51 moves and due to insufficient material to checkmate the opponent's king, under the FIDE Laws of Chess, 5.2.b.:

The game is drawn when a position has arisen in which neither player can checkmate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves. The game is said to end in a ‘dead position’. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the position was legal.
Although with bishops of opposite colours it is not impossible for white to checkmate black, if black creates a self-mate: e.g. black K on a8, black B on b8, white K on a6 and white B on c6. So perhaps they agreed to the draw? Carlsen opened with another Reti, 1.Nf3, but Anand obtained a slight advantage in the early middlegame, which he increased but it never became great enough to win. Even though on move 25, Carlsen was forced by Anand to retreat his Q to h1, where it only controlled two squares: h2 and h3! In the post-game press conference Carlsen described his position at that point as "scary"! So this was another psychological victory for Anand in that, as in the first game, Carlsen failed to obtain an advantage with the white pieces. Carlsen showed his immaturity and lack of respect for the World Champion by refusing Anand's offer of a draw on move 40, when the position was a draw, and he made Anand play on pointlessly for another 11 moves.

Game 4, Anand v Carlsen, Wed 13-Nov-13, ½-½. This was the

[Above: The final drawn position in the fourth game after Anand (White's) 64.Kxb3.]

fourth draw in as many games, but another fighting one. After Anand made what he admitted in his press conference was a miscalculation 18.Ne2, it looked like it was going to be a win by Carlsen who won Anand's a2 pawn by 19...Bxa2. But Anand attacked on the K-side and after I went and played at the chess club, turning my smartphone off so I would not be distracted by checking the "Official app of the FIDE World Championship Match 2013," when I turned it back on after my game four hours later, I fully expected to read that Anand had lost. Instead I even thought that Anand was winning! But after I got home and started watching the YouTube live streaming of the match, and I updated the moves on my computer's Houdini 3 program, I realised that Anand was just hanging in there, still being a pawn down in an endgame, and Carlsen is an acknowledge endgame virtuoso. But according to Houdini, Carlsen's advantage dissipated when Anand played 43.Rc8 and instead of 43...Rxc8 [-0.49] (about half a pawn advantage to Black) Carlsen played 43...Rdd3 with equal chances [=0.00]. The game was eventually drawn by agreement on move 64, when Carlsen (Black) was a lone pawn up in a simple rook and pawn ending (a book draw). Again, although Anand failed to win with the white pieces, I believe this game was more a psychological negative for Carlsen than Anand, since before the match Carlsen had been by expected by many to blow Anand away (as Fischer did to Spassky in 1972), especially if it got to a long-drawn out game.

Game 5, Carlsen v Anand, Fri 15-Nov-13, 1-0. Carlsen won the

[Above: Final position after 58. h4 whereupon Anand resigned.]

fifth game! He now leads the match 3:2. As White Carlsen opened with the English Opening 1.c4 and Anand transposed into his favourite Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Slav 1...e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 c6. But then Carlsen sprung what must have been part of his opening preparation against Anand, the little-known, Marshall Gambit, 4. e4. However, Anand played it well, indicating he was aware of the theory and practice of that opening and, according to Houdini, even obtained the advantage on move 12 when Carlsen castled Q-side. However, Anand emerged out of the opening with a position that looked inferior, with a bad B on d7 compared to Carlsen's dominating B on e4, and a pawn formation that was ragged compared to Carlsen's. But Anand's 23...Rb5 gained him sufficient counterplay. Indeed according to Houdini, Anand could have drawn with 45...Ba1 but anything else, including Anand's 45...Rc1+, lost. It will be interesting to see how Anand (and Carlsen) react to this loss by Anand. Now Carlsen only needs to draw the remaining seven games to win the World Championship. However, Anand lost the seventh game to Boris Gelfand in their 2012 World Championship match, but then Anand bounced back and levelled the match with a win in the eighth game when Gelfand became too confident. However, Carlsen is a much stronger opponent than Gelfand, and I now expect Carlsen to win the match and become the sixteenth World Chess Champion.

Game 6, Anand v Carlsen, Sat 16-Nov-13, 0-1. Carlsen won also

[Above: The final position at 67...Rg1 in the sixth game after which Anand resigned.]

the sixth game as Black! He now leads the 12-game match 4:2, and now only needs to draw the remaining six games (or even draw five and lose one) to become the next Chess World Champion. Anand as White opened with the Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 d3 Bc5. Anand opted for a Steinitzian closed centre 5.c3 and a K-side attack. Anand seemed to have the better early middlegame but Carlsen gradually obtained counterplay on the Q-side, giving Anand doubled b-pawns. Anand exchanged one of those but then Carlsen gave Anand doubled e-pawns. Anand, inexplicably, made an elementary positional blunder by 29.Rd1 ceding the a-file for no apparent reason. Then by 38.Qg3 Anand sacrificed his doubled a-pawns for Carlsen's d-pawn to obtain what should a drawn R and P ending. Carlsen made an error by not playing 43... h5 and Anand gave up another pawn by 44.h5, wrecking Carlsen's K-side pawn structure. The position seemed like a draw but Carlsen, who is famous for grinding out wins in what other grandmasters would agreed to as drawn, saw a winning method of sacrificing his doubled h-pawn for Anand's g2 pawn giving Carlsen a passed f-pawn supported by his Ke3. According to Houdini, Anand had only one move, 60.b4, which drew, and all others, including Anand's 60.Ra4, lost. Anand fought on ingeniously but eventually with Carlsen's pawn on f2 about to queen, supported by his Rg1, Anand would soon run out of checks and so after Carlsen's 67...Rg1, Anand resigned. Despite the 43 year-old Anand's physical fitness regime, it is clear that the 22 year-old Carlsen, who is also physically fit, plus his computer-like endgame play, can maintain his concentration longer than Anand and so avoid critical errors. Being two games up, with only six games to play, it is now almost certain that Carlsen will win the match and become the next World Chess Champion.

Game 7, Anand v Carlsen, Mon 18-Nov-13, ½-½. The seventh

[Above: The final position in game 7, which was agreed drawn after Carlsen's 32... Ne6 when Anand was about to play 33.Qf3, which would have repeated the position three times (see game 1 above)]

as drawn. I don't understand why Anand had the white pieces two games in a row. The game was another Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 as in game 7, with Anand diverging from 5.c3 that he played in game 7, with 5.Bxc6. On move 10 Carlsen played g6 to keep Anand's N from occupying f5, and then, after both players had castled Q-side, Anand levered open the h-file with 15.h4, 16.h5 and 18.hxg6. But even though Anand's R penetrated to h7, Carlsen was ready with a counter, bringing his Rs to h8, protected by his Q on f6, and then exchanging them on h7. The game then petered out to a draw with each side having a Q and a N and a weak isolated pawn. A draw was agreed after Carlsen played 32...Ne6 and Anand was about to play 33.Qf3, which would have repeated the same position three times (see game 1). The score is now Anand 2½ : Carlsen 4½ with only 5 games to play.

Game 8, Carlsen v Anand, Tue 19-Nov-13, ½-½. Game 8

[Above: The final position in game 8, after Anand played 33...h5.]

ended in another draw. Carlsen opened with 1.e4, Anand's favourite and a rarity for Carlsen. This was undoubted a psychological ploy by Carlsen, showing Anand that he is confident and unafraid of him. And instead of Anand responding with his favourite Sicilian, he answered 1...e5. Carlsen continued with the Ruy Lopez and Anand played Carlsen's favourite in this match, the solid but drawish Berlin Variation. Anand varied with 4...Nxe4, the Exchange Variation, and obtained a lead in development and his Q2 and Re1 controlled the e-file. But Carlsen's position had no weaknesses and after regrouping his pieces and easing his cramp by exchanges, an exactly symmetrical K and pawn ending was reached on Carlsen's move 28, and the draw was agreed to after Carlsen's 33...h5. Anand showed no fight at all. As I commented below:

"The match is effectively over now with Carlsen two games up with four games to play. Anand seems to think so too, by not playing Sicilians as Black, nor gambits as White. It looks like he has already conceded the match and his goal now is not to be beaten by too much? Unless Anand's desperate plan is to lull Carlsen into a false sense of security, and get to the last two games being still two down, and then throw the kitchen sink at Carlsen, hoping he will lose the second last game. Then Carlsen might be so rattled at the prospect of not winning the World Championship that he thought was already won that he might then lose the last game also?"
Let's hope it is the latter. At the post-game press conference, Anand promised to "liven things up":
"Of course the match situation explains itself and I guess it's my job to liven things up but I guess I will try in the next game," Anand said in the post game conference." ("I will try to liven things up in next game: Anand," The Times of India, November 19, 2013).

For Anand's reputation's sake, he better!

Game 9, Anand v Carlsen, Thu 21-Nov-13, 0-1. Carlsen won the

[Above: The final position in the 9th game, after Carlsen, with 2 queens played 28...Qe1, so that after Anand's 29.Rh4, Carlsen could play 29...Qxh4, leaving Anand with no attack and Carlsen a R up.]

9th game to go three games up (3.0 : 6.0) with three games to go. That is, Carlsen only needs one draw in the remaining three games to win the World Chess Championship. Anand as White opened with 1.d4, the first time either player had done so in the match. Carlsen defended with the Nimzo-Indian 1...Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 and Anand revealed his aggressive intent by playing 4. f3 the Kmoch Variation according to Chess Opening Explorer, although I thought and Anand said it was in the post-game press conference, the Saemisch Attack. The opening continued 4...d5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. bxc3 after which it definitely is the Saemisch Attack and if the same position is arrived by transposition, Chess Opening Explorer calls it the Nimzo-Indian, Saemisch variation. The game was very exciting with Anand pawn-storming Carlsen's castled K on the K-side and Carlsen pawn-storming Anand's undefended Q-side. But despite Anand's threats on the K-side, Houdini rated Carlsen's position as better, indicating that Anand had no winning line. Indeed at the post-match press conference Carlsen said that he could see no win for White. And the severe time trouble Anand got into indicated that Anand could see no winning line either. The crisis was reached when Anand played 23.Qf4 and Carlsen defended against Anand's threatened mate on g7 after 24.Qh4 and 25.f6 g6 26.Qh6, by 23...Nc7. Anand then played 24.f6 and Carlsen, according to Houdini, missed a win by the safer 24...g6 instead of the scary 24...gxf6. The game continued 25.Qh4 Ne8 26.Qh6 b2 27.Rf4 allowing Carlsen a second queen 27...b1=Q+ and then instead of 28.Bf1 Qd1 29.Rh4 Qh5 30.Nxh5 gxh5 31. Rxh5 Bf5 which drew, Anand blundered by 28.Nf1??. Immediately Carlsen played 28... Qe1, so that if 29.Rh4 Qxh4, and Anand resigned. Anand explained at the press conference that he had seen in previous calculations that 28.Nf1 lost to 28...Qe1, but when the position arrived on the board he forgot that and suddenly thought it won, overlooking that after 28.Nf1 the N was no longer on g3 to prevent Carlsen's second Q on e1 sacrificing itself for Anand's Rh4. At least Anand did "liven things up" and went down fighting. Few would blame him now if he agreed to a draw in the next game, making Carlsen the 16th World Chess Champion.

Game 10, Carlsen v Anand, Fri 22-Nov-13, ½-½. The tenth

[Above: The final position in game 10 and of the match, when Anand had just played 65...Nxc5.]

game was drawn due to insufficient material when Anand took the last pawn on the board by 65...Nxc5 leaving White's K versus Black's K and N, making Magnus Carlsen the new World Chess Championship! Carlsen opened with 1.e4, probably challenging Anand to play his favourite Sicilian Defence, 1...c5. Anand took up Carlsen's challenge and did play 1...c5. Carlsen then steered the game into his favourite for White, the Rossolimo Variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5. After exchanging his KB for Black's QN, 6.Bxd7+ Bxd7 Carlsen established a `Maroczy Bind' by 7.c4. Carlsen had a space advantage but Anand managed to keep his pieces coordinated. After Carlsen's 26.Qd2 Houdini rated the position as a slight advantage to White [0.14]. But then Anand started making mistakes. The first was 26...Nf6 [0.37]. The next was 28...Qg5 [1.28] which in the postgame press conference Anand admitted was a "blunder". Carlsen took advantage of Anand's blunder by 29.e5 [1.49], winning Black's d6 pawn. But then Carlsen too quickly played 30.exd6 [0.22], which allowed Black to regain the pawn, instead of increasing the pressure by 30.Nc3 [1.40] as the d6 pawn was pinned. Anand regained the pawn 30... Rc6, 31...Qd8 and 32...Rcxd6 but that lead to exchanges of Qs and both Rs on d6, leaving a N and pawn ending, with Carlsen holding a slight [0.19] advantage. After 46.Ng8+ Kf8 47. Nf6 Carlsen could have had a draw by threefold repetition (47...Ke7 48.Ng8+ Kf8 49.Nf6 Ke7 50.Ng8+ Kf8) as anything else would lose for Anand but Carlsen, spurned that opportunity to become World Champion and tried to win by 47.Nxh6. Carlsen probably calculated 9 moves ahead to 56.a8=Q f1=Q 57.Qd5 in the game continuation where he had a draw in hand anyway in that Anand would have a Q and N but no pawns versus Carlsen's Q and 3 pawns. Anand won one of Carlsen's pawns but that allowed Carlsen to exchange Qs leaving Carlsen with K and 2 isolated pawns versus Anand's K and N. That position was a draw since Anand's K would take Carlsen's h3 pawn and Anand's N would stop Carlsen c4 pawn from queening. They played on until Carlsen's had only his K and Anand had only K and N, an automatic draw because of insufficient material to mate (see my comments above on the third game). So Carlsen is the 16th World Chess Champion, at 22 the second youngest ever (after Garry Kasparov who was also 22 when he won the title in 1985, but was a few months younger than Carlsen) and so because of his youth Carlsen is likely to remain World Chess Champion for at least the next decade.

Posted: 8 November 2013. Updated: 16 June 2017.


Anonymous said...

Anand had white twice in a row because they switched order of colours halfway through the match. This means Anand will have black in the last game, but for now, it seems like the match will be over before that happens.

Stephen E. Jones said...


Thanks for your comment. I was starting to wonder if anyone else was reading this off-topic post. Are you a Shroudie (or anti-Shroudie) and a (competitive) chessplayer?

>Anand had white twice in a row because they switched order of colours halfway through the match.

OK. I did not realise they were going to do that. But it seems fair though, come to think of it.

>This means Anand will have black in the last game, but for now, it seems like the match will be over before that happens.

The match is effectively over now with Carlsen two games up with four games to play. Anand seems to think so too, by not playing Sicilians as Black, nor gambits as White. It looks like he has already conceded the match and his goal now is not to be beaten by too much?

Unless Anand's desperate plan is to lull Carlsen into a false sense of security, and get to the last two games being still two down, and then throw the kitchen sink at Carlsen, hoping he will lose the second last game. Then Carlsen might be so rattled at the prospect of not winning the World Championship that he thought was already won that he might then lose the last game also?

Stephen E. Jones