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    « Viswanathan Anand Qualifies For The Candidates; Carlsen Fails To Do So | Main | World Championship, Game 8: Call Off The Dogs; Send In The Puppies! »
    Thursday
    Nov212013

    World Championship, Game 9: Anand Blunders; Carlsen Leads 6-3

    It was the most exciting game of the match by far. Viswanathan Anand had enough of the Berlin and switched to 1.d4. Magnus Carlsen played the Nimzo-Indian, and when the champ replied with the aggressive 4.f3 it was already clear that there would be no quiet positional battles. The Neo-Saemisch, like its older brother with 4.a3, aims to build a big pawn center and then use that space advantage for the sake of a kingside attack. Black gets a queenside majority which he should try to use while slowing the enemy attack as much as possible, and the race is on.

    White's attacking chances were very real, and if Anand had played this sort of chess the whole match it might have turned out very differently. As far as I can tell at this point, the chances were generally level throughout the game up until the last move, but there are many crazy lines and White in particular had a wide variety of ways to prosecute his attack. What is clear is that Anand's 28th move was an outright blunder - a very simple oversight, really - and it turned what was still an unclear position into one that was dead lost for White.

    With that, the match is as good as over. Carlsen needs just one draw in the last three games to clinch the title, and he will have the white pieces in game 10 tomorrow. I would be surprised if that game goes more than two hours; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it's over in less than an hour. It would be nice if Anand surprised us with his psychological resilience and fighting spirit, but with a 3-point deficit I think he'll give in to the inevitable pretty quickly. We'll see; meanwhile, here is today's game, with light notes.

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    Reader Comments (11)

    Btw, Anand explained in the press conference what caused the blunder. He was looking at 28.Nf1 as a possibility to improve on 28.Bf1, because then after 28...Qd1 29.Rh4 Qh5 30.Rxh5 gxh5 White has 31.Ne3! (with the threat Nxd5 – Ne7+) 31...Be6 32.Bxd5 (with the threat Be4 and mate) and now Black has to give up the (second) queen with 32...Qxd5, because 32...Bxd5 loses immediately to 33.Nf5 (again with the lethal threat of Ne7+). In all the excitement, he forgot that once the knight moves away from g3, 28...Qd1 isn’t forced anymore since Black can defend the h4 square directly by Qe1.

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEyal

    Just a remarkable blunder. Anand was down to 8 mins with 12 moves left before the time control - I suspect he wanted as much time as possible to try to coordinate an attack on the h file and thus didn't even bother to double check b v n to block the check. But still really surprising.

    I'm not at all good enough to assess the respective chances if Anand doesn't blunder there, but it's worth noting that Carlsen easily rattled off the correct continuation in the postgame press conference (which Houdini has as a slight advantage for black), so anything better than a draw for either side hardly seems like a forgone conclusion. Some commentators, oddly, seemed to think Anand was close to a win, though. Am I missing something? Given the 30-8 time disparity at the blunder, that seems like a surprising analysis.

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

    The link to the game seems corrupted

    [DM: Just checked it - it works fine.]

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterguy

    The blunder knocked Anand down from having a 2819 IPR---essentially the same as what he had thru 8 games---to 2745. Carlsen slips a tad to 2983.

    I can understand the psychology of going for something beautiful, only to find it's just not there, then being derailed.

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenneth W. Regan

    Carlsen is simply the best player in the world right now. Many may not like his style of play or his apparent lack of humility but he has proven himself to be the best by rating and by winning the championship from Anand. It would be good to see Anand try to win tomorrow but I suspect you're right and he will quickly draw and end the match. Carlsen is a worthy champion and will likely remain on top for awhile if he stays motivated to do so.

    The game today was spectacular and easily the best of the match even if it was spoiled by a huge blunder at the end. When I was going through the game, it was obvious, even to me, that Anand couldn't allow the new black queen to cover the h5 square and when he did so, it was game over. It appears that the pressure of needing to win the game today took its toll and he cracked, but it was a great attacking game that would have crushed mere mortals.

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeal Bonrud

    "White's attacking chances were very real" and "chances were generally level" by which you must mean even.

    What are you saying? In between the above inconsistent ideas you say if Anand had played attacking chess the match might have turned out differently. Good grief, what otiose writing and thinking.

    [DM: They aren't inconsistent. The position was objectively equal, but a position can be objectively equal in many different ways. In some cases the position is dull and/or devoid of imbalances. To take a very simple case, imagine a rook ending where both players have three pawns apiece on the same side of the board (e.g. on f2, g3 and h4 for White, f7, g6 and h5 for Black) and the kings are covering their own pawns. Such a position is just about impossible for a competent player to lose. Then you have a position like today's, where White's attack is extremely dangerous. With good defense - which we saw - Black can hold and even having winning chances, but the slightest misstep can change the evaluation dramatically. (Black can get mated.) Having "serious attacking chances" doesn't mean one is winning or even has the advantage, because the other side can have compensation for those attacking chances.

    I don't really see anything odd or otiose about the claim that if Anand had played this sort of chess throughout the match it might have turned out differently. In the first eight games Carlsen was only in danger in game 3, while in this game, by his own admission, he was seriously concerned for a long time.]

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrandy

    We'll, I hope you're wrong about Anand giving in tomorrow and giving us a short game. I feel like Anand just lost all three games rather than Magnus winning them. I'd love to see some fight left in him. Otherwise this whole match just feels really quite sad, actually.

    So, if the match win is inevitable, any chance Magnus has some fun tomorrow and plays something like the Bird just to try to be a good sport in Game 10? Or will it be e4?

    [DM: I think the odds on 1.f4 are zero, but it would be amusing. In the press conference Anand said he would try, so hopefully there will be a full game.]

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

    Bottom line: this match was a totally imbalanced blowout. The playing strength differential made the difference. It was the same rating differential as Vishy playing number 65 in the ranking list. Those that said that the playing strength differential was meaningless, that match experience is more important, and that Magnus would crack under pressure have egg on their face.

    [DM: I guess your last sentence refers to somebody somewhere, but did anyone make such a comment on this blog? I'm sure I didn't, but maybe someone did. Anyway, I think a look at the games themselves and not just the score paints a less one-sided picture than you suggest. Assuming nothing crazy happens the rest of the way, there's no question but that Carlsen is a deserved victor, but Anand's errors were largely unforced (e.g. 28.Nf1?? in game 9; 23.Qg4?!, 30.Qf5?! and 38.Qg3? in game 6) and not primarily due to Carlsen's fantastic technical abilities (best seen in game 5 and parts of game 4).]

    November 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercalvin

    Before move 23.Qf4 Andand had a huge time advantage and a scared Carlsen had to find all the best (if not only) defending moves. Then oviously Anand tried to calculate some complicated Variations to the end. (Anna Karlovic later stated this as a question in the press conference,) Anand used about 45 minutes for that move. Of course Carlsen could also use Anands time, to calculate the most threatening variations. Thereafter the time pressure was on Anand. May be this was the decisive factor. So Annas Karlovics question must have been the more annoying for Anand,
    There is no need to speculate, what would have happend with Carlsen having the white pieces at move 23. Fore sure he is also a master in increasing pressure on his opponents in a sportive manner, aside from just making good moves.

    November 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

    The bigger question now is what will Anand do? Is he willing to get the title back? What does he need to do besides drink raw eggs and punch dead cows?

    [DM: Chase chickens, of course! (http://movieclips.com/WsSX6-rocky-2-movie-kentucky-fried-idiot/)]

    November 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGoodhumor

    As far as I know, noone said that match experience is more important than rating (whether rating is an all-accurate measure of playing strength is another story). But for example Svidler said (as mentioned on this blog via intermediaries Colin McGourty and myself) that match experience might almost compensate the difference in rating, making Carlsen just a slight favorite in the match.

    Svidler doesn't have "egg on his face" (safe to say that he knows more about chess than calvin or most people commenting on the Internet). First, he assumed that (or his assessment would only be true if) Anand would show top form, which he didn't. Second, any prediction can turn out to be wrong - so were for example predictions that Carlsen would dominate the candidates event, and the seven other players could only fight for second place.

    I agree with Dennis' reply, and find it a bit sad that a WCh match was decided by blunders - which doesn't take away that Carlsen deserved to win. But I wonder a bit regarding Carlsen's "fantastic technical abilities" in game 5. If Anand had played 45.-Ra1, the position would have remained even to drawish. After Anand's 45.-Rc1+? the remaining white moves seem pretty straightforward, mostly either grabbing or pushing pawns. Not really beyond the powers of IMs or FMs!? Question to one FM: Dennis, which of Carlsen's remaining moves made you say or think "Wow" - knowing that you use this term far more sparingly than Susan Polgar, if at all?

    November 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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