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    Monday
    Nov172014

    World Championship, Game 7: Drawn in 122 Moves

    While Viswanathan Anand's Kan Sicilian is in the shop, he decided to go back to 1...e5 and the Berlin Defense. In game 2 Magnus Carlsen this with 4.d3 and went on to win a nice game, but this time decided to enter the famous ending. The players followed a trendy line, with the first officially new move occurring on move 25. That began the game, and three short moves later Anand found an idea that dictated the game's character for the next 50 moves or so. Anand began a combination that resulted in an ending where Carlsen had a rook, knight and two pawns against Black's rook and four compact pawns, with all the pawns on the queenside.

    White's fundamental idea was to put a pawn on c4, the knight on d5 and put the rook on the 7th rank, and if he could achieve that without Black doing anything special in reply he would most likely win (whether Black went for a rook swap or not), but achieving that setup wasn't at all easy. It took Carlsen a long time to legitimately threaten it, and once he was about ready to put that plan into action Anand started pushing his queenside pawns and advancing his king in search of counterplay. It wasn't easy, but Anand calculated everything correctly and managed to liquidate all of White's pawns by move 77, reaching an ending with rook and two pawns vs. Carlsen's rook and knight. Carlsen wasn't yet ready to call it a day, and while he eventually picked up both of Black's pawns Anand had no trouble holding the resulting ending, which has been known since forever to be a theoretical draw. Carlsen finally gave up the ghost and allowed the rooks to be traded, "unfortunately" finishing the game two moves before tying the old record for world championship games. (The record for moves, that is; the record for time is just about impossible to break under current time controls.)

    Carlsen thus continues to lead the world championship match with a 4-3 score; Anand will have the white pieces tomorrow. Meanwhile, the game, with my brief notes, can be replayed here. (Subscribers to my match coverage will get more detailed coverage later tonight.)

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    Reader Comments (2)

    This was much more like it, even though it was a Berlin. Anand played the theoretical moves and then executed a well-thought-out plan to achieve a draw. Carlsen, of course, made him put in the effort of proving the draw, but Anand was up the the challenge and while behind on the clock, nonetheless never seemed to be particularly concerned by developments (nor was there a reason to be).

    As an added bonus, the chess commentariat got an object lesson in the value (or lack thereof) of computer evaluations. Stockfish was especially amusing, rating the position as clearly winning for white (R + 4 vs. R + N + 2), then slightly better for white (R + P v. R + N) and then suddenly realizing that the position was dead drawn... when black lost a pawn.

    [As an aside, apologies for the comment on Game 6; I misremembered the point at which ...a6 was played and made a fool of myself criticizing it. c2-c4 had not been played when Anand went for it, so of course it was still normal.]

    [DM: Ah, that makes sense: 4...Nc6 5.c4 a6 would be a little strange for Black.]

    November 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGMC

    GMC, good point on the computer evaluation for this game. I don't watch a computer at all, generally, but I was on the Playchess server during the critical part of this game. I saw several people who stated Anand was done after the bishop sac. I wanted to ask, what else is he to do? Even a patzer like me could see that that was the best drawing chance. If the bishop sac was losing, then the losing move was somewhere before that.

    Kudos to Svidler for pointing it out ahead of time. Kudos to Svidler in general. It's so nice to see how a top notch player thinks about positions in a match like this. When I listen to Peter's post mortems of his own games, and his commentary here, I wonder how he ever loses a game. Just goes to show how difficult it is to win at this level.

    November 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMikeO

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