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    Entries in 2013 World Championship (32)

    Sunday
    Nov102013

    Jaideep Unudurti on the Anand-Carlsen Match

    Jaideep Unudurti is an Indian journalist who often writes about chess; happily, he also regularly comments on this blog. He has written what he describes as a "mood piece" on the match for today's (Sunday's) Economic Times. Have a look.

    Sunday
    Nov102013

    World Championship, Game 2: Another Short Draw

    The opening and the character of play were a bit different today, but the result and the duration were similar. Today's game was even shorter in terms of time than yesterday's, drawn in just under 70 minutes. Viswanathan Anand opened with 1.e4, which is very much in keeping with the standard pre-match forecast that Anand wants to go for forcing lines while Magnus Carlsen wants positions where the play will be slower and less forcing.

    That's less easy to do with Black, where the task against 1.e4 is often to decide which forcing options one prefers to see. Carlsen's choice of the Caro-Kann was a surprise, an opening more commonly chosen by his opponent, and then 7...e6 was possibly a second surprise for the champion. White played normally, and then made important decisions on moves 15 and especially 18. At the latter juncture 18.Qg4 is the testing move, when Black in turn has an important choice between 18...Kh7 and 18...f5. Carlsen expressed skepticism about the latter move, but based on an interesting email game and the engine's deliverances I'm skeptical about his skepticism. Maybe we'll see about this in a later game of the match, though I suspect not.

    Reasonably expecting his opponent to be better versed in the complications, Anand chose the safety-first approach with 18.Qxd5, and forced a draw by repetition several moves later. Not exciting for the fans, but an understandable decision by the champion. Tomorrow is a rest day, with the action picking back up again on Tuesday. Game 2 (with light comments) can be replayed here; subscribers will receive more detailed comments (plus a video) later.

    Saturday
    Nov092013

    Parimarjan Negi, Satirist

    He's not just the second-youngest grandmaster of all time (so far), he - Parimarjan Negi - also has a nice touch with light satire on his blog. Worth a look, especially as many of the current entries are about the world championship.

    HT: Manoj Khatri

    Saturday
    Nov092013

    World Championship, Game 1: An Easy Draw For The Champion With Black

    The match got off to a great start for the champion. Even though Magnus Carlsen played a line that would have been hard to predict, Viswanathan Anand looked more comfortable both at the board, from a physical perspective, and also with respect to his position on the board. Anand's idea with 9...dxc4 10.bxc4 Nb6! just about killed White's opening as a try for an advantage, and indeed Carlsen said afterwards that he had no options to play for a win and "had to pull the emergency brake and go for a draw."

    The only real question about this 16-move game is whether Anand should have forced the repetition. Both players seemed to agree that both that Black had the better prospects if anyone did, but that there was nothing concrete or terrifying. Perhaps so, but my surmise is that with colors reversed Carlsen would have kept going, and not only because that's what he usually does.

    So it is in general a good start for the champion. He got to dictate the play and achieved a comfortable draw with the black pieces. Carlsen's attempt to play anti-theory theory and go for a slow game didn't succeed at all. One hopes that after months of preparation Carlsen can show more than this with the white pieces. Still, Carlsen can console himself that his opponent remains too willing to take the bird in the hand. Opportunities against a player like Magnus Carlsen aren't going to present themselves in every game, so when you've got them you should use them, even if it means foregoing an easy draw with Black.

    The game can be replayed here, with light but relevant notes. (Subscribers will receive much more detailed coverage later today.) Anand will have White in game two, tomorrow, and then Monday will be a rest day.

    Saturday
    Nov092013

    Four Hours To Go: Make Your Predictions

    The match will start in a few hours, but it's not too late to make some predictions. Who do you think will win this best-of-12 game match, and what do you think the score will be?

    (There's still time to sign up for my match coverage, but the deadline for free bonus materials is coming soon: the start of the match, give or take a little bit - we won't follow FIDE's "zero-tolerance" policy in this matter.)

    Friday
    Nov082013

    It's Not Too Late To Sign Up For My Match Coverage

    I mentioned it a couple of days ago, but now that it has scrolled down a ways I'll mention it again and make it semi-official: I do intend to cover the match in detail for subscribers, who will receive the analysis of all the Anand-Carlsen games, video coverage of the games, and if you sign up before the match starts, I'll throw in the videos and PGNs I did for last year's Anand-Gelfand match.

    The price is $25 for the whole thing, but don't pay yet. If you're interested, please drop me a note with your email address via the "Contact Me" link below.

    Thursday
    Nov072013

    The World Championship Festivities Begin: The Opening Ceremony and Press Conference

    Today (yesterday for some of you) the world championship match between the champion, Viswanathan Anand, and his challenger, Magnus Carlsen, began with the opening ceremony and a very interesting press conference.

    The one important bit of information we have from the opening ceremony is that Carlsen will have the white pieces in game 1, which (I think) also means he's scheduled to have them in games 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12. (Since the Kramnik-Topalov match that double-up in the middle has been the procedure, but I haven't confirmed that it will be the case here too. If I'm right, then Anand will have the white pieces in games 6 and 7.)

    More interesting still was the press conference, which you can watch below. Interestingly, Anand declared his team of seconds: Indian GMs Krishnan Sasikiran and Chanda Sandipan, Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, and Hungarian super-GM Peter Leko. Even more interestingly, and I suspect a little painfully for the champion, Carlsen said he would not return the favor and acknowledge his seconds. A psychological point to the challenger there.

    A couple of minutes later someone asked Anand what he thought of Carlsen's answer, and he replied that neither player could be expected to tell the whole truth, implying that he had further helpers elsewhere. An intriguing answer, but it looked somewhat defensive, as if he were trying to make up for the damage done by Carlsen's earlier non-answer answer. It strikes me that he in fact lost a second psychological point there, first by demonstrating that Carlsen had gotten under his skin and second by giving further information to his opponent. Perhaps if Carlsen thought the four official seconds were the whole team, he and his team could conceivably have drawn overly specific conclusions, while now they might maintain a little extra mental flexibility.

    There was even a third little moment of psychological interest when someone asked Carlsen a question in Norwegian. Carlsen said it didn't deserve to be translated, and replied in Norwegian as well. A small thing, but that little bit of non-deferential behavior also indicates that Carlsen is there to be his own man and not to be friendly in any sense with the champ. Not rude, of course, but certainly distant - wholly other. Amusingly, later in the conference Anand is asked a question in an Indian language, and likewise replies without translating.

    Now for some speculation: who is working with Carlsen? First of all, while I'm sure he's not actually there on site, it seems that Garry Kasparov is or at least has been assisting Carlsen in some capacity. Second, as we saw here, Carlsen's countryman Jon Ludwig Hammer has at least been involved in his pre-match training. Whether he is there or not; again, who knows? My guess is that he is, both on his merits and to have a friendly face and a countryman there in addition to his family and manager. My next guess is Ian Nepomniachtchi. "Nepo" is a very strong GM who has seconded him before, and as they are of the same generation (both born in 1990) and as Nepomniachtchi comes across as a very upbeat guy, he seems an obvious choice for the team. Beyond that I have no idea, except that Peter Heine Nielsen won't be on his team. (He was a long-time Anand second who helped Carlsen in the Candidates', but promised to stay out of this match.)

    Finally, here's a completely ridiculous thought: might Hikaru Nakamura be on Carlsen's team? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think he has any events coming up until Wijk aan Zee in January. They share the Kasparov connection too, and can thus discuss the Kasparov files without divulging any big secrets to each other. Please note that this is pure conjecture without a shred of evidence - I'm throwing this out only as an interesting and amusing possibility.

    As Anand intimated and most of you probably already knew or surmised, the players probably have off-site help as well (which is almost surely the case for the Carlsen-Kasparov connection). So even if Anand has some unappointed spies casing the Carlsen compound for clues, that won't disclose all of his connections. Speaking of which, here's an interesting bit of speculation about things on the Anand side of the equation: it could be great for him to have Vladimir Kramnik helping out (if he would be willing to do so). I would be more inclined to accept this possibility, and to relish the idea of a Kasparov-Kramnik proxy war, were it not for Kramnik's somewhat recent comment that Anand is intimidated by Carlsen. It's possible that it was a bit of clever disinformation designed to throw Carlsen off the trail and to drive him to overconfidence...but I doubt it.

    That was rather a lot of speculation; hopefully real news will come out to take its place. Once it does, we'll be ready to report it.

    Meanwhile, it's getting close to time for the action to begin. The games are set to begin at 3 p.m. Indian time, which translates to 10:30 a.m. Central European Time (sorry, Europeans with day jobs) and 4:30 a.m. ET (sorry, Americans who like to sleep). Game 1 is Saturday - we're almost there!

    Here's the press conference; the action begins around the 7:20 mark.

    Wednesday
    Nov062013

    How Will I Cover The Match? You Decide

    A few people have written asking if I will cover the upcoming Magnus Carlsen-Viswanathan Anand match in a way similar to what I did last year with the match between Anand and Boris Gelfand. I covered the match on the blog to some extent, but worked up some deep analysis and videos for subscribers, sending both to them by email.

    After spending some time thinking about it, here's what I think I'll do. If you're willing to pay $25 (or more) for the same deal, please drop me a note via the "Contact Me" box in the right sidebar along with your email address, and if enough people have signed up by Friday afternoon ET I'll send out a note requesting that you go ahead and send that amount to me via PayPal. If not enough people are interested, then I won't, and no one will have committed any money. And here's a bonus: If the plan does succeed I'll send subscribers the Anand-Gelfand videos and analyses as well!

    Order now, operators are standing by...

    Wednesday
    Nov062013

    The World Championship Match Site

    It's here, up and running. We're about a day away from the opening ceremony, and play begins on Saturday. We're almost there!

    Wednesday
    Nov062013

    Nigel Short on the Carlsen-Anand Match

    Not so much that's new here in this piece by Nigel Short on the upcoming world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and titleholder Viswanathan Anand. Not much, but something. In particular, it settled a discussion I was having with a friend as to whether Garry Kasparov was in fact helping Magnus Carlsen beyond offering a bit of advice. It seems from this interview that he is in on Carlsen's team (at least to some non-trivial extent).

    HT: Brian Karen