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    « World Championship, Game 7: An Easy Draw For Carlsen | Main | World Championship, Game 5: Carlsen Wins, Leads 3-2 »
    Saturday
    Nov162013

    World Championship, Game 6: Carlsen Wins Again

    In games 1 and 2 of the world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and his challenger Magnus Carlsen, the players were warming up. In games 3 and 4, the match heated up, with both players having a game to press and a game to defend. Finally, in games 5 and 6, the match exploded and maybe came to a de facto end.

    Just as in game 5, small concessions and errors by the champion allowed Carlsen to press and press, and while Anand was on verge of a draw he never quite managed to find the final path to safety. As a result, Carlsen won his second straight game, has taken a 4-2 lead, and unless Anand can regain - or maybe just gain - some confidence and get the kind of position he likes he has little chance of saving his title. The only other hope is that Carlsen will crack up, but that seems unlikely unless Anand can first stop his own bleeding. For the sake of the match's drama and for Anand's legacy I hope it happens, but right now he's in danger of getting routed.

    On to specifics about the game. Carlsen repeated the Berlin Defense, which served him very well in game 4, but this time Anand avoided the "endgame" with 4.d3. Anand's 10.Bg5 was a new move, but Carlsen found a nice way to neutralize the pin with the Breyer-like Nc6-b8-d7 maneuver on moves 13 and 14. The game appeared headed for a draw, and had Anand played something like 23.Qe2 a handshake might have been forthcoming. Instead he played 23.Qg4?!, and after 23...Bxe3 24.fxe3 Qe7 25.Rf1 c5 26.Kh2 c4! White's center was a bit weak, and it was evident that Carlsen would once again get to play on for a long time, and for only two results.

    From here Anand made a couple of unnecessary concessions: 30.Qf5?! (rather than 30.d5), which allowed Black to open the e-file under favorable conditions, and the pawn sac/blunder 38.Qg3 (Carlsen wasn't sure which it was during the press conference, and Anand didn't bother to clarify the matter for the record). Even so, just as in yesterday's game, Anand entered the second time control with a position that was inferior but still well within the margin of a draw.

    As usual, though, Carlsen kept looking for ideas, and his great idea to sac the c-pawn to further activate his king and to create a passed f-pawn bore fruit. With 60.b4! (a move Anand dismissively rejected in the press conference - something he has made a habit of doing in this match and just about always mistakenly) White still could have held the draw. His 60.Ra4? sealed his fate. It would have sufficed to draw if he could have removed his own b- and c-pawns from the board, but he couldn't advance them in time and lost. (The game, with a few comments, can be replayed here; subscribers stay tuned later this afternoon.)

    One last comment on the game for now, and it's that Anand seems to be suffering from a home-field disadvantage. Where in other countries he could go out in public unrecognized and without being mobbed, his freedom is constrained in India. The local journalists are asking him questions that are often either impolitic or foolish, and his patience is speedily diminishing, and today's presser finished with him suggesting that the questioner must not understand English. The burden of being the hometown hero seems to be weighing heavily on him. Maybe he should go out in public and experience some love from the fans to buoy his spirits, as the bunker mentality approach of "me against the world" doesn't appear to be working.

    Any thoughts from my readers on the scene?

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    Reader Comments (17)

    I noticed Anand seemed to dismiss 60. b4 in the press conference, but didn't Carlsen also say it was "too slow", or am I mistaken? In any event, that line seems not all that obvious to me. It really is amazing how accurately Carlsen has been playing these endings -- not just at Chennai, but in almost all of his games the last couple of years.

    [DM: Yes, Carlsen did reject it as well. But it does draw - it's easy to confirm when you run through the line - check with the engine of your choice. That doesn't mean it's easy to work out after six hours, though! Incidentally, the fact that it is a draw takes nothing away from Carlsen's idea. It was the very best try, and sure enough it worked.]

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMikeO

    It looks bad for Anand. I remember reading last year that the game 7 lost to Gelfand hit the Anand camp really hard and that they went into all-out crisis mode. I'd imagine the effects of that after game 5 this year were mixed at best, and it's hard not to think that now Carlsen will spend the rest day relaxing and brushing up on an opening or two while Anand will have a hard time resting when the most natural thing to do would be to panic. It doesn't help that for all the great opening work Anand might have, Carlsen has no reason to stretch for a win in the remaining games, and will no doubt immediately go for any 3-fold repetition he sees.

    [DM: I disagree...maybe. It depends on what you mean by "stretch". He shouldn't take any special risks - that's right. But calling off the dogs is a terrible idea. It lets Anand regain his emotional bearings, it takes the edge of excellence off his play, and gives Anand the chance to make another push. Always run through the finishing line!]

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

    I don't know what the interest in the match is in India, but maybe Anand found himself not in the shadow of Carlsen the grandmaster but of the Little Master - Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest ever Indian cricketer and a world leader who played his last test match in Mumbai, which ended today.

    One is going out on a glorious high, the other on a match too far.

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

    Luck was not with him for these games. And considering Carlsen won both the games from drawn position and mistakes that normally a good amateur won't make shows what extreme commercialisation has done to the royal game.The very approach towards the cerebral game that started from Kasparov is only to win in any way by the pressure of behaviour media,money and adding to it now appeared a new band of child prodigies who can solve 50 piece puzzles before they learnt to talk .They could have banged their head with the uncertain theory or something better in solid scientific research but chess board is much more easier million,Soon chess boards are going to vanish from aristocrats drawing rooms and oneday the game would evaporate like boxing.With Carlsen winning these championship, as Kasprov said will begin the carlsen era and with that era chess shall become more boring than ever before,Who can beat a boy who calculates better than the super computers.

    [DM: I can understand not being thrilled with the Carlsen aesthetic, which focuses on the competitive and technical aspects of the game, but that has its place in chess and is if anything less dependent upon computers than a style and approach like Anand's. And while my preference is for Anand - most from solidarity with a fellow 40-something! - I'd have to disagree about "luck". Carlsen wins endings like that against just about everyone. He is tremendously talented and has worked hard to cultivate that ability. In this respect he is like Fischer and Karpov, both of whom also had terrific technique and forced their opponents to solve every possible problem for agreeing to the draw.]

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKrisanu

    Generally, home field disadvantage could well be the case - at least it isn't as clear as some people suggest that playing in Chennai favors Anand.
    But the questions that upset Anand today were apparently asked by Norwegian journalists, twice by different ones and the second one insisted:
    Q What will you do now?
    Anand: I will do my very best [what else can he say, certainly not "I will play the King's Gambit in game 7"]
    Q What do you mean by "very best"?
    Anand: Don't you understand English?
    (Then press officer Kharlovich didn't allow further inquiries)

    Legitimate journalistic curiosity, or an attempt to upset Anand or make him look bad?

    [DM: Oh, I didn't realize that the journalists in question were Norwegian. That makes a difference, and makes the questions in even worse taste.]

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Alas, Kramnik may have a point after all. I thought Anand started really well in the games 1 to 4. Now it seems like an almost impossible task to retain the championship. But as they say, cornered animals fight the hardest. With nothing to lose, Anand might just go all out in the next round.

    Yes, Anand dismissed b4 but note Carlsen also thought it was too slow.

    It was also not a local journalist who pressed Anand about "do your best". One would think journalists are little bit more thoughtful not to force the issue with a guy who lost 2 games in a row in a title match.

    As you said, it is good for the chess and audience that Anand come back strongly in round 7. I sure hope so !

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSS

    A potential problem is that Anand, having lost two straight games, will find it psychologically near impossible to shoot for more than a draw on Monday, despite having white; he will be so eager not to lose that a win may prove out of reach in game seven without a blunder by Carlsen. If Anand has some unexploded bomb in terms of preparation, which he may use to try to unbalance Carlsen, Monday's the day to unleash it.

    November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTEF

    @krisanu:

    I can't make much sense of your comment. You seem to say that in the old days,
    really bright kids chose careers in science, but now, attracted by the money, some of them have turned to
    chess instead? And this is unfortunate for the game, because it will become less aristocratic and
    more like boxing, and finally it will disappear?

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDarkHelmet

    Watching the video footage, it looks like Anand was a bit tired (shave?), nervous, and tried to play the whole endgame in a very 'active' way, starting with Qg3, then h4-h5, and the strange 51.Rb8 instead of 51.b3 liquidating the queenside.

    It also looks like he was playing a lot on instinct, and didn't use that much time on the clock at some critical points. I wonder if it wasn't some kind of 'posture' thing ("you're not going to win this endgame and I'll draw it in no time"). Or maybe he wanted to go quick to the next game, being frustrated with his opening. It turned terribly wrong, for sure.

    Now I think Anand's best chance is probably to let the anger take on and break loose on the chessboard. He has to use his strength (initative play), no matter what the computers tell him. Playing cautiously on Carlsen's technical playground will do him no good.

    Maybe we'll see a King's gambit ? ;-)

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergues 222

    Well I doubt that Anand can come back now.Carlsen is at his best .I do not know if it is luck or hard work .But ,he is talented .and that is luck too.Clearly he is lucky right from his birth to be better than average.Anands loss in the second game is apparently connected to his by chance loss in the first game .an elementary misjudgemnt .His mistakes after moves 40 in the second game shows his desparation to win which finally resulted in loss.The win pressure in the subsequent games would make Anand more vulnerable to mistakes for which Carlsen would be waiting.That is how the secret geometry of chance and luck works and the pattern that from the last two games have started unfolding clearly shows on whom the stars are shining brighter.

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkrisanu

    I think Kramnik did Anand a disservice by declaring that he was scared of Carlsen. I know he was just responding to questions about the match but making his opinion public probably undermined the shaky confidence of his sensitive friend, who was probably aware of it.

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAD

    Anand was happy to secure a draw with the black pieces when he got the kind of dynamic positions that are his strong suite. Carlsen is truly a new era in chess as he calls into question the culture of premature draw offers in professional chess that relies on computer evaluation and neglects the sporting element. This fighting approach will be Carlsen's lasting impact on the game of Chess as a World Champion. I predict a renewed interest by amateur players in the study of the Endings instead of the emphasis on Chess openings.

    [DM: Carlsen isn't unique in chess history, in the sense of being someone who plays on to the bitter end. Fischer famously did this, and before him Alekhine was a breath of fresh air after Capablanca's pronouncements about the draw death of chess. Even in the recent past Topalov was playing positions to the death, and with a much more fan-friendly style than Carlsen's. He might inspire some imitators, but I'd be really surprised if rank-and-file players start to emphasize endings, as it takes a lot more time and effort than most people have or are willing to spend developing skill. But it would be interesting if you're right.]

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPolo

    Carlsen will be our new world champion, unless Anand manages to get right back in it with a win. That'll be hard psychologically for Anand, hard to play for the win for five hours physically and this against Carlsen. Even if he does, it will be extremely tough for Anand to get momentum going to equalise the score somewhere along the line. I think it is safe to say that if Game 7 will not be an Anand victory, this is over.

    I'm not going to root for Anand making a comeback to increase the dramatic value of the match. If Carlsen can manage to turn this into a rout, then that's what it should be.

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPerseus

    it is all over for anand now. Also while the endings ere "drawn" Carlsen is right to insist the draw be proved, Anand's draw happy tendencies are now coming back to haunt him. I am a big anand fan but he has now met his match. We can all speculate about a younger Anand being able to cope etc., but clearly it seems Anand can no longer maintain the same consistency that Carlsen can: on the day the better player is winning, The King is dead. Long live the King!

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdev anand

    I don't think Anand was really ready for these long endgames. I think he may have thought its possible Carlsen like so many others in matches since the kasparov v karpov would often just agree to draws if the opening did not produce any concrete ideas.

    I think the way to prepare for carlsen is to play out endgames to bare kings against a computers. And just get used to it so it no longer makes you uncomfortable.

    That said I think people are reading a bit too much into 2 games. Yes Anand made some mistakes and Carlsen really didn't. But Carlsen also did not see that b4 was drawn. He also admitted not seeing h5. He admitted he wasn't sure if it was a draw or a win after that. Carlsen is a human and Anand is generally better in the openings than Carlsen.

    Kramnik was down 3 points after 6 games to Anand and he still made a match of it. Anand still has some chances.

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe McCarron

    There is a practical matter of age and energy how much ever Anand tries to overcome it by training hard. All of Anand's fatal mistakes are coming in the 5th or 6th hour when he probably does not have the energy to calculate many lines and simply chooses to ignore some lines based on intuition (his ignoring of the b4 line is one such thing).

    [DM: I think the "fatal mistake" way of looking at things is itself a mistake. In both losses there was a series of concessions and inaccuracies that made the position increasingly more difficult to hold. The last mistake was only that: the last one.]

    As per Anand's legacy it is already assured. From about 2005 or so till 2009 /2010 he pretty much dominated. It is not an as extended period of domination as that of kasparov or futuristically that of carlsen; nevertheless a pretty good period of domination that will ensure his legacy.

    November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGS

    "As per Anand's legacy it is already assured. From about 2005 or so till 2009 /2010 he pretty much dominated. It is not an as extended period of domination as that of kasparov or futuristically that of carlsen; nevertheless a pretty good period of domination that will ensure his legacy"

    In which universe did Anand "dominate" from 2005 to 2009/10? Topalov was clearly better in 2005, Kramnik was clearly better in 2006 and Carlsen was clearly better in 2009/10. That leaves 2007-08, and I don't know if he "dominated" even then, at least Kramnik was the favourite in their 2008 match.

    November 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermoi

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