Entries in Viswanathan Anand (83)
Well, sports fans, Monday was a bad day for those of us who are hoping that Viswanathan Anand will win or at least be competitive against Magnus Carlsen in their coming world championship match. It would be wrong to draw too sweeping a conclusion from his ouster in the Corsica semi-finals at the hands of Sergey Fedorchuk, but it certainly doesn't lend itself to any optimistic scenarios either. Fedorchuk won the first rapid game with Black, and then drew from a position of strength with the white pieces - and he could easily have played for a win in that game too.
In the previous round Anand had blanked Pavel Tregubov 2-0 while Fedorchuk had struggled to overcome Csaba Balogh. They drew their rapid games, and the first blitz game was also drawn. Fedorchuk had White in the second blitz game but no advantage, but when Balogh went crazy with 17...Qh5? and 19...e5 he was quickly crushed.
In the other half of the draw, Hou Yifan made things as difficult for herself as possible before qualifying for the finals. As she did yesterday, she began her quarterfinal match with Martyn Kravtsiv by losing with the white pieces. As yesterday, she won the rematch and then won the blitz playoff 2-0. In the semi-final round she unexpectedly played Robert Ruck, who had defeated second seed Ivan Saric 1.5-.5, winning the second game with the pieces.
In the Hou-Ruck match Hou broke the pattern by winning the first game with White, but the overall pattern of needing to suffer continued intact. She lost the second game, and then lost the first blitz game to boot - both losses were with Black. She won the second blitz game, and then it was time for an Armageddon game. She had White and five minutes against Ruck's four minutes and draw odds, and she came through with a good win.
Tuesday will see the battle of the 2673s, and the silver lining for Anand is that he gets an additional day of preparation for the Carlsen match.
"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.
In Corsica a rapid (15' + 3") knockout event is underway. Viswanathan Anand and Hou Yifan were invited, while the other 14 players earned their spots by their performance in a qualifying tournament immediately preceding the k.o. Anand is the top seed by a considerable margin, Ivan Saric (2678) is second, and then Hou Yifan and Sergey Fedorchuk are the third and fourth seeds, respectively, both sporting ratings of 2673. (Of course, they should use their rapid ratings rather than their classical ones, but if the players don't mind there's no reason why I should.)
In these events the pairings always begin with the top seed playing the bottom one, #2 playing the second from the bottom seed, and so on. At the start the top players are generally huge favorites, but although Anand easily dispatched his 2376-rated IM opponent 2-0 and Saric also won 2-0, both Hou and Fedorchuk opened their matches by losing with White against mid-2400 rated opposition! Not to fear: both won the rematch and then blanked their opponents 2-0 in the added blitz games.
The top four won't play each other tomorrow, but if they all win in the quarter-finals Anand will play Fedorchuk and Saric will play Hou on Tuesday.
In the previous post I linked to a short interview of Viswanathan Anand focusing on his performance in last month's world rapid & blitz championships, and in that article he singled out several games of special importance. Those games, with my brief notes (including his win over Magnus Carlsen), can be replayed here.
Once again "our" man on the scene Jaideep Unudurti has scored an interview with ex-world champion and current world championship contender Viswanathan Anand. It's a short piece and there's no "red meat" about the coming title tilt with Magnus Carlsen, but there are some interesting comments about the recently completed World Rapid & Blitz Championships, especially the rapid portion of the event.
It's worth a look, and I hope to present the games Anand referred to in a subsequent post.
So we have something new for the world championship match this coming November between titleholder Magnus Carlsen and challenger (and former champ) Viswanathan Anand. The match won't be in Norway or India, or FIDE favorites Elista or Khanty-Mansyisk. Instead, they'll face off in Sochi, Russia, which may not be entirely controversy free either. It had to be somewhere though, and without alternative sponsors it's probably good to get this taken care of as soon as possible.
According to the FIDE website (HT: Chess Today) the deadline for bids on the world championship rematch between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand has come and gone, with nary a sponsor to pick up the tab. Not Norway, not India; no one. The FIDE page basically says "stay tuned", which might mean that come November the journalists will pack their bags for Elista or Khanty-Mansyisk.