"MK" writes in with the following questions and comments; my replies are interspersed:
1) Betting odds show that you should bet on Carlsen - if you believe Carlsen has more than 77% chance of winning. If you believe Anand has more than 28% chance of winning, you should bet on Anand (odds offered are 45/17 - i.e. you bet 17 and casino puts in 45 for a total pot of 62). Who would you bet on?
I'm not interested in promoting gambling, nor would I want anyone to lose money by following my guesses! So no answer here. (One comment though: I assume the odds you give add up to more 100% because of the house's take.)
2) Whats your advice to Anand (or what do you expect Anand to change)
I would expect more games like games 3 and 9, where Anand puts pressure on Carlsen. Moreover, Anand should play forever when he has a small advantage - primarily for psychological reasons, but also because Carlsen is a bully on the chessboard, and doesn't like to defend. Carlsen is great in endings where he can push, but has lost plenty of endings when he has had to defend. He's an incredible player, but he's human.
a) Last WCC Anand played a little scared or maybe we should call it cautious (i.e. he didnt push when he had a marginal advantage whereas Carlsen played till the very end when Carlsen had a marginal advantage) (another example is he played the Berlin defence late in the match despite being he was 2 games down. Do you think Anand needs to push more and believe in himself and be more optimistic?
Yes to both comments.
b) Do you think Anand showed a better approach during the Candidates? I thought he did but his unwillingness to work out a win against Andreikin disappointed me a little.
I'm not really bothered by the Andreikin game, because at that point in the event the a loss would have been more harmful than a win would have been beneficial, in both cases relative to a draw. But there were a couple of other games earlier in the event where I did have some of the disappointment you're alluding to. He did play well there, but I think what we might call his "cynical minimalism" is just never going to work against Carlsen, even if it does against everyone else in the world.
c) Last WCC, Anand lost a game or two in the end game. Do you think his endgame technique needs to be sharpened and that he should expect Carlsen to continue pushing even in equal situations till bare kings
There's only so much sharpening he can do. I think in the endgame he will always be Carlsen's inferior - that's the strongest aspect of Carlsen's game - but he must avoid playing "Neville Chamberlain chess" at all costs. Carlsen will never give him peace or be satisfied with small concessions; he'll greedily take those gifts and then beat his opponent over the head with them. Game 3 last year was an example of this that Anand didn't seem to learn from at all. Anand had been better and missed some great opportunities to win. At some point he gave up trying to win, but rather than offering a draw from a position of strength he gave away the rest of his advantage as if to lay down his arms, and only then offered a draw. At this point Carlsen no longer had any need to shake hands, and managed to put some slight pressure on Anand for the next dozen moves or so. It's not that Anand was in any trouble, but there was absolutely no reason for him to take up the role of supplicant, forfeiting the psychological advantage he had enjoyed all game long.
d) Related to C above what does Anand need to do to improve his stamina in the 3rd / 4th / 5th hour of the game
Whatever physical exercise his doctor recommends, plus long training sessions simulating the kinds of pressure Carlsen will put him under.
e) Anand was fidgety / nervous in the last WCC. I think he needs to focus on his diet and workouts and also maybe spend time with his wife/son before each game to lower his stress levels.
Agreed. And at a bare minimum, he should find some way to hide his nervousness during the game - the way his fingers trembled looked awful, and must have boosted Carlsen's confidence while doing nothing for his own.
f) if Carlsen lost, would he be very demoralized so much so that his performance in the next Candidates matches will be materially adversely impacted?
Doubtful. He's young and resilient, and there will be plenty of time between a hypothetical loss here and the next Candidates. The latter event won't occur until late 2015 or early 2016.
g) If Anand won, I think it might be the greatest achievement of his career.