22 November 2014

Problems with Knights

These six chess problems all feature knights in a critical role. They were assembled as a problem solving contest for the Black Knight's Joust, a youth chess tournament that I am directing today. All entries with six correct answers submitted before the start of the last round become eligible to win a prize.

At the King's Clash two weeks ago, the solution to all six problems was the move of a king. One entry had six correct answers. The young player won a book.

The knight's move may not be the first in the winning combination. It is often the last.

The first two are from Gioachino Greco, c.1623. Number three is based on one in several problem books. Number four come from a game won by Lionel Kieseritzky in 1842. The fifth, from Horwitz--Bledow (1837), contains a common idea that can arise in the opening. Problem number six is from the 21st match game between Louis-Charles de la Bourdonnais and Alexander McDonnell (1834).

Black moves first







21 November 2014

Anand -- Carlsen, Game 10

World Champion Magnus Carlsen leads challenger and former champion Viswanathan Anand 5-4 after nine games. The match is being played at the Olympic Media Center in Sochi, Russia. Yesterday's game 9 started with the variation of the Berlin Defense to the Spanish Opening that appeared in game 7. Game 7 was on the verge of setting the record for longest World Championship game ever played, but fell short by two moves.

With three games remaining, Anand is under pressure to produce a win. Both players have demonstrated exceptional opening preparation for this match. Both are confident.

Following these games live and blogging them while in progress is both enjoyable and exhausting. The games start at 3:00 pm in Sochi, which is 4:00 am my time. Because of the importance of game 10, I set my alarm for 4:00 am for the first time during this match. I also prepared the beginning of this post last night.

I predict the game's first moves: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4.

Every time that Anand has had White, these have been the moves. Will they vary today?

Anand,Viswanathan (2792) - Carlsen,Magnus (2863) [D97]
WCC Sochi (10), 21.11.2014

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0–0 7.e4 Na6 8.Be2 c5 9.d5 e6 10.0–0 exd5 11.exd5 Re8

These moves were played rapidly, and now Anand begins to think. Carlsen opted for a Grunfeld Defense, as in game 1 of this match. However, Anand varied from that game on move 4.

After Carlsen's 11...Re8
I have played the Grunfeld and have played against it. However, I have no experience  with 5.Qb3 and subsequent moves.


Anand spent about ten minutes. 12.Rd1 is the most popular move, and was Anand's choice when he had the diagram position twenty years ago. 12.Be3 and 12.Bc4 have also been played by Grandmasters.

12...h6 13.Be3 Bf5 14.Rad1 Ne4N

After Carlsen's 14...Ne4
Reference Game:

Wojtaszek,Radoslaw (2713) - Ponomariov,Ruslan (2729) [D97]
Poikovsky Karpov 13th Poikovsky (2), 29.09.2012

14...Qb6 15.b3 Rad8 16.Rd2 Ng4 17.Bf4 Qa5 18.Rc1 g5 19.Bg3 Bxc3 20.Qxc3 Qxc3 21.Rxc3 Nf6 22.Bb5 Ne4 23.Re3 Nxd2 24.Rxe8+ Rxe8 25.Bxe8 Ne4 26.Ne5 f6 27.Nc4 Kf8 28.Bb5 Nxg3 29.Bxa6 bxa6 30.hxg3 Ke7 31.f3 Bb1 32.a3 Bc2 33.Na5 Kd6 34.Nc4+ Kc7 35.Na5 Bg6 36.Nc4 Bf7 37.d6+ Kd7 38.Kf2 Bg6 39.Ke3 Bc2 40.Na5 Kxd6 41.g4 Bg6 42.Nc4+ Ke6 43.Na5 Kd5 44.Nc4 f5 45.gxf5 Bxf5 46.Na5 Bd7 47.Nc4 Bb5 48.Nd2 a5 49.Ne4 Bc6 50.Kd3 Ke5 51.Nxc5 Kf4 52.Ke2 Kg3 53.Kf1 g4 54.fxg4 Bxg2+ 55.Kg1 Bd5 56.b4 axb4 57.axb4 Kxg4 58.Kf2 Kf4 59.Na4 Bc6 60.Nc3 a6 61.Ne2+ Ke4 62.Ng3+ Kd3 63.Nf5 h5 64.Ng7 h4 65.Nf5 h3 66.Kg3 Kc3 67.Ne3 Bg2 0–1


When the reference game was a long Black win, it dawns on me that Carlsen could be seeking to bring this match to a rapid conclusion. If he manages a win with Black, he needs only one draw in the last two games to secure his title.


Peter Svidler, who with Sopiko Guramishvili is providing live commentary for the official site, thinks that it is likely both players are still in their preparation.


Anand spent fifteen minutes on this move.

Svidler, who plays the Grunfeld, thinks that Anand's advanced central pawn is strong. I find it reminiscent of a game Garry Kasparov played in his youth, which he comments upon in some depth in Kaparov on Kasparov, Part 1: 1973-1985 (2011).


I expected 16...Kh7. Anand had been thinking for eight minutes as Svidler and Guramishvili return from a short break.

Svidler is confessing that he considered Carlsen's move, although he did not mention it earlier.

After Carlsen's 16...Qf6
17.Bxh6 Qxb2

A queen swap here followed by exchanges of bishops for knights to double the opponent's pawns seems to make the d-pawn less of a threat. Black should hold the position.

18.Qxb2 Bxb2

Although 19.Bxa6 is tempting, keeping the bishop pair on the board offers better prospects for applying the sort of pressure that could lead to a win.

In general, I like having the Black side of the Grunfeld with a two to one pawn majority on the queenside. However, in my experience, Black's c-pawn usually gets exchanged for White's d-pawn. Here, that d-pawn is a potential monster.


Susan Polgar suggested this move in a tweet while Anand was contemplating 18.Qxb2.

Anand has 51 minutes remaining. As Carlsen is thinking, I notice that he is a player who tips his head from side to side while calculating potential exchanges. It is subtle, which helps to explain why I had not noticed it before.

Carlsen has been thinking for twenty minutes.

"The gloves are off," Fabiano Caruana tweeted.

After thirty minutes of thinking, Carlsen played.


Problems with the delay, feed, or hackers caused Svidler to briefly perceive that 19...Bxg2 had been played.

20.Nxe4 Rxe4 21.Bf3 Re7 22.d6 Rd7 23.Bf4

I had these moves in my database before they were played.

After Anand's 23.Bf4
White's d-pawn is blockaded and Black's knight may now have time to find a more useful square, perhaps Na6-b4-c6. Would Anand snap it off on c6? Perhaps, Carlsen needs to slide the other rook to c8 first.

23...Nb4 24.Rd2

Surely White cannot let the a-pawn drop. Or, can he?


This move must be much stronger than my idea.

Svidler has introducing a guest, an expert on the Grunfeld, when the live commentary feed died. Perhaps the broadcast is working elsewhere in the world.

Refreshing my browser brought it back, so the problem seems to be local.


Anand has 22 minutes to get to move 40.

25...Re6 26.h4

Anand avoids backrank checkmates and also prevents g6-g5.

The problems I was having listening to the commentary continue, so I am missing interesting Grandmaster analysis. These problems seem to stem from my notebook computer, which often has connectivity issues. It is a nice box, but the internal WiFi seems substandard. The video works fine on my iPad, but the battery needed charging so I switched to my notebook.

I suppose that I could move the charger to where I am sitting in the living room. These First World problems with technology are soo troubling.


The analysts are not optimistic concerning Anand's ability to play for a win in this position now.

After Carlsen's 26...Be5
27.Bxe5 Rxe5 28.Bxb7 Rxb7 29.d7 Nc6 30.d8Q+ Nxd8 31.Rxd8+

White looking at the position after 26...Be5, I entered some moves in my database. These moves were soon played on the board.

31...Kg7 32.Rd2 1/2-1/2

I did not get as far as the last move by each player in my guess-the-move.

The draw should be considered a victory for Carlsen in terms of the match situation. With two games remaining, Carlsen leads 5.5-4.5.

In the press conference, Anand mentioned 24.Re1 as an alternative to 24.Rd2. The commentators seemed to suggest that Anand lost control of the position near that point in the game.

20 November 2014

Carlsen -- Anand, Game 9

When I awoke at 4:10 am, the ninth game of the World Championship had been underway a few minutes. I grabbed my iPad from the side of the bed and checked on the game. Seeing that it was another Berlin Defense, I put the iPad down and went back to sleep.

No, I do not consider the Berlin boring. Rather, I expected another long game and could use the sleep. Sleep avoided me. At 5:00 am, I checked on the game again. It appeared that Magnus Carlsen could force a draw against challenger Viswanathan Anand. With a one point lead in the match, Carlsen retains his crown if he can manage a draw in every remaining game.

Carlsen's reputation is to play on until "every resource is exhausted," as Peter Svidler so ably put it during the commentary on an earlier game in this match. Perhaps a short draw, however, would be a way to increase psychological pressure on Anand. The challenger is under growing pressure to find a way to win. He has one win against Carlsen in the past few years. That win was last week.

I played a couple of blitz games on Chess.com while still in my warm bed. After a stunning game in which my opponent resigned a rook ahead, I returned to the World Championship game. It was over.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) -- Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [C67]
WCC Sochi (9), 20.11.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3

The oldest game in the Chessbase database with 9.h3 is Gaprindashvili,N -- Vreeken,C from a preliminary round of the Women's World Championship in 1978. It is a hot move now, having been played by such players as Aronian, Caruana, Karjakin, and Grischuk. Carlsen also played it in game 7 of this match.

9...Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Ne2 

Carlsen played 11.Bf4 in game 7. 11.Ne2 is relatively uncommon, but is something that Anand should be prepared for.

After Carlsen's 11.Ne2
Reference Game:

Carlsen,Magnus (2772) - Jakovenko,Dmitrij (2760) [C67]
Dortmund SuperGM Dortmund (1), 02.07.2009

11...Be7 12.Bg5 Be6 13.Nf4 Bd5 14.Bxe7 Kxe7 15.Ng5 Nd4 16.Rad1 Ne6 17.Ngxe6 Bxe6 18.h4 a5 19.a3 a4 20.Rfe1 g6 21.f3 Ra5 22.c3 Rb5 23.Re2 Ra8 24.Rd4 Raa5 25.Kf2 Rxe5 26.Rxe5 Rxe5 27.Rxa4 Rb5 28.b4 c5 29.Ra7 cxb4 30.cxb4 Kd7 31.Ne2 Rb6 32.Ke3 Bc4 33.Nd4 Kd6 34.Ra5 Ra6 35.Rxa6+ bxa6 36.g4 hxg4 37.fxg4 Ke5 38.Nc6+ Kf6 39.Kf4 Ke6 40.h5 gxh5 41.gxh5 Bd3 42.Ke3 Bf1 43.h6 Kf6 44.Ne5 Bb5 45.Kd4 Ba4 46.h7 Kg7 47.Nxf7 Kxh7 48.Ng5+ Kg6 49.Ne6 1–0


There are ten prior instances of  this move in the reference database that I use. Four of these games were decisive, with two wins for each side.

12.Rd1 Ba6 13.Nf4

After Carlsen's 13.Nf4

Reference Game:

Dominguez Perez,Leinier (2726) -- Ponomariov,Ruslan (2741) [C67]
ESP-chT CECLUB Honor Leon (5.2), 09.11.2012

13... Rd8 14.Bd2 Nd4 15.Nxd4 Rxd4 16.a4 Bc8 17.a5 a6 18.Be3 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 b5 20.Nd3 Be7 21.Bc5 Bd8 22.Nb4 Rh6 23.f4 f5 24.c3 Bh4 25.Rd3 Rg6 26.Kh2 Bb7 27.Nc2 Bc8 28.g3 Bd8 29.h4 Be6 30.Nb4 Bc8 31.Rd2 Bb7 32.Rd1 Bc8 33.Rh1 Bb7 34.Kg2 Be7 35.Nd3 Bd8 36.Kf2 Rh6 37.Re1 Bc8 38.Nb4 Kf7 39.Rd1 Ke8 40.Re1 Kf7 41.Re3 Rg6 42.Ke2 Rh6 43.Kd2 Rg6 44.b3 Rh6 45.c4 Rg6 46.Kc3 Rh6 47.Nc2 Re6 48.Nd4 Re8 49.Rd3 bxc4 50.bxc4 Bd7 51.Re3 Be7 52.Bxe7 Kxe7 53.e6 Bc8 54.Kb4 Kf6 55.Kc5 Bb7 56.Nxc6 g6 57.e7 Ba8 58.Re5 Bb7 59.Nd8 Bg2 60.Nc6 Kf7 61.Nb4 Rxe7 62.Rxe7+ Kxe7 63.Nxa6 Kd8 64.Nb4 Ba8 65.Nc6+ Kc8 66.a6 1–0

14.e6 Bd6 15.exf7+ Kxf7 16.Ng5+ Kf6 17.Ne4+ Kf7 18.Ng5+ Kf6 19.Ne4+ Kf7 20.Ng5+ ½–½

Spanish Opening games in this match have averaged 71 moves. Perhaps Anand's novelty refutes Carlsen's preparation, so Carlsen opted to bail. Perhaps a short draw was all he wanted from the beginning.

The Berlin Defense was revived in popularity after many years of neglect when Vladimir Kramnik adopted it in his World Championship Match against Garry Kasparov. Kasparov could not win with the White pieces. Since then, many games have demonstrated that either side can fight for advantage as there are several imbalances in the position.

19 November 2014

Lesson of the Week

The lessons this week focus on elementary tactics that build a foundation for more complex tactics. They stem from a major blunder by the current World Champion. Magnus Carlsen is the highest rated player in history and regarded by growing numbers as the strongest player ever. Even he makes mistakes, however.

In the sixth game of the current World Championship match with Viswanathan Anand, Carlsen played 26.Kd2 to reach this position.

Black to move

Anand was in some time pressure and missed the correct response. He could have gained an advantage that would have made a win in this game likely. He went on to lose and remains one point behind.

My advanced students are asked to find the combination that Anand could have played.

Some of them are presented with other positions inspired by this game, which was a Sicilian Kan.

Black to move

This position arose in Ricardi -- Polgar,J 2001. It is one of the reference games for the Kan in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO)

Black played 25...Kg8 and the game was drawn by repetition a few moves later. Pablo Ricardi sacrificed a rook to expose Black's king. How would he have continued the attack if she had played 25...Ke7?

Beginning students are shown the solution that Anand missed in the first diagram and are given a worksheet with six elementary discovery problems created after a pattern found in Bruce Pandolfini, Beginning Chess (1993). Each problem in Pandolfini's book has ten pieces or fewer. I have found a lot of value creating worksheets for my students with similar problems.

Beginning Tactics: Discovery

White has a winning move in each of these positions.

18 November 2014

Anand -- Carlsen, Game 8

Carlsen's Theoetical Novelty

There is a lot of talk that Magnus Carlsen does not study the openings, but simply plays very good chess. He plays better chess than anyone else, ever.

Viswanathan Anand is almost a legend in his opening preparation. Even Vladimir Kramnik, no slouch in terms of preparation for a match, was thoroughly out-prepared by Anand.

Today's game, thus, becomes very important because Carlsen played a novelty that neutralized White's chances in a well-known position of the Queen's Gambit.

Anand,Viswanathan (2792) -- Carlsen,Magnus (2863) [D37]
WCC Sochi (8), 18.11.2014

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 c5 

6...Nbd7 was played in game 3.

7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.a3 Nc6

The players have reached a fairly common position in the Queen's Gambit declined.

After Anand's 9.Qc2

Carlsen opts for a relatively rare move. 9...Qa5 is the most common move.


There are nine prior instances of this move in the ChessBase database. Other moves played in this position are 10.Rd1, 10.O-O-O, and 10.cxd5.


 This move is essentially the novelty, although it appears once in the ChessBase database, played by an A Class player, Gunther Manheimer in 2010.

10...d4 was played in Showalter -- Janowski 1898, and has been the main move since.
10...dxc4 was tried in the 2002 Championship of Israel, Lev -- Ruderfer. White won in 67 moves.

11.Rd1 Qa5 12.Bd3 h6 13.Bh4 dxc4 14.Bxc4 a6 15.0–0 b5 16.Ba2 Bb7 17.Bb1

After Anand's 17.Bb1
White has his battery aiming at the king. However, due to Carlsen's moves 9 and 10, the Black king cannot become trapped.

17...Rad8 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Ne4

19.Qh7+ was shown by Anand during the press conference. 19...Kf8 20.Ne4 Rxd1.

19...Be7 20.Nc5 Bxc5 21.Qxc5 b4 22.Rc1 bxa3 23.bxa3 Qxc5 24.Rxc5 Ne7 25.Rfc1 Rc8

After Carlsen's 25...Rc8
There are no imbalances in the position.

26.Bd3 Red8 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Rxc8+ Nxc8 29.Nd2 Nb6 30.Nb3 Nd7 31.Na5 Bc8 32.Kf1 Kf8 33.Ke1 Ke7 34.Kd2 Kd6 35.Kc3 Ne5 36.Be2 Kc5

After Carlsen's 36...Kc5
37.f4 Nc6 38.Nxc6 Kxc6 39.Kd4 f6 40.e4 Kd6 41.e5+ ½–½

Carlsen leads the World Championship Match 4.5 - 3.5. Tomorrow is a rest day.

17 November 2014

Carlsen -- Anand, Game 7

A Record of Sorts

Half-way through the World Championship in Sochi, Russia, Magnus Carlsen leads Viswanathan Anand 3.5-2.5. Carlsen has his second consecutive White today. Anand opted for the Berlin Defense against Carlsen's Spanish (Ruy Lopez).

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) -- Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [C67]
WCC Sochi (7), 17.11.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3

This move seems to be growing in popularity among top players. 9.Nc3 is the main line.

After Carlsen's 9.h3
9...Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5 Rh6 14.g3 Bxg5 15.Bxg5

We have bishops of opposite color.

After Carlsen's 15.Bxg5

15...Rg6 16.h4 f6 17.exf6 gxf6 18.Bf4 Nxh4

Anand wins a pawn

19.f3 Rd8 20.Kf2

Reference Game:

Anand,Viswanathan (2817) -- Nakamura,Hikaru (2753) [C67]
Grand Slam Final 4th Sao Paulo/Bilbao (7), 07.10.2011

20.Rxd8+ Kxd8 21.Kf2 Nf5 22.Rh1 Ng7 23.Bd2 Bf5 24.Nd1 Bxc2 25.Ne3 Bd3 26.Ng2 Ne6 27.Rxh5 Rg7 28.Bc3 Ke7 29.Rh6 Rf7 30.g4 Bb1 31.a3 f5 32.g5 Nxg5 33.Nf4 Ke8 34.Rg6 Nh7 35.Rg8+ Rf8 36.Rg7 Rf7 ½–½

20...Rxd1 21.Nxd1 Nf5 22.Rh1

Carlsen gets to use the h-file

22...Bxa2 23.Rxh5 Be6 24.g4 Nd6 25.Rh7

After Carlsen's 25.Rh7

Reference Game:

Giri,A (2768) -- Radjabov,T (2726) [C67]
Tashkent 2014

25...f5 26.g5 Nf7 27.Rh5 Rg8 28.Kg3 Rh8 29.Rxh8+ Nxh8 30.Bxc7 Ng6 31.Nc3 Kd7 32.Bb8 a5 33.Na4 Kc8 34.Bf4 b5 35.Nc5 Ba2 36.c3 a4 37.Bd6 Bd5 38.f4 Kd8 39.Kf2 Nh4 40.Ke3 Ke8 41.Nd3 Be4 42.Nf2 Bd5 43.Ba3 Kf7 44.Kd4 Ke6 45.Nd3 Ng6 46.Nc5+ Kf7 47.Na6 Nxf4 48.Ke5 Nd3+ 49.Kxf5 c5 50.g6+ Kg8 51.Nxc5 Nxc5 52.Bxc5 ½–½

26.Ne3 Kd8 27.Nf5 c5 28.Ng3

After Carlsen's 28.Ng3

Anand spend thirty minutes on this move.

I was considering  28...Ng5 29.Rh8+ (29.Rxc7 was my line Nh3+ 30.Ke3 Nxf4 31.Rxb7) 29...Rg8 30.Rh6 (30.Rxg8+ Bxg8)

29.Rh8+ Rg8 30.Bxe5 fxe5

30...Rxh8?? 31.Bxf6++-

31.Rh5 Bxg4

I guessed this move, reasoning that liquidating White's kingside pawns was Anand's only chance to fight for a draw.

32.fxg4 Rxg4 33.Rxe5 b6 34.Ne4 Rh4 35.Ke2 Rh6 36.b3 Kd7 37.Kd2 Kc6 38.Nc3 a6 39.Re4 Rh2+ 40.Kc1 Rh1+ 41.Kb2

After Carlsen's 41.Kb2

41...Rh6 42.Nd1 Rh6 43.Ne3 Rh6 44.Re7 Rh2 45.Re6+ Kb7

After Anand's 45...Kb7
I had mentioned during earlier games that I was observing without reference to computer evaluations, as were the commentators. However, I noticed after that claim that the left side of the game board on the official website contains a vertical bar indicating the computer's evaluation.

Once I observed it, it became harder to ignore. At least it offers no numerical evaluation and no lines. While Carlsen was contemplating this position, Svidler made the point that a computer evaluation of +1.85 in such an endgame position means only that White is ahead materially.

If the evaluation suddenly jumps higher, then there is a concrete win.

There is no question that White has an advantage in this position, but finding a concrete win is not so easy. It may be that it is not possible.

46.Kc3 Rh4

Black's rook restrains White's king from the side. There is a passive quality to Black's defense, but it is White that has the complex problem to solve.

47.Kb2 Rh2 48.Nd5 Rd2 49.Nf6 Rf2 50.Kc3 Rf4 51.Ne4 Rh4 52.Nf2 Rh2 53.Rf6 Rh7 54.Nd3 Rh3 55.Kd2 Rh2+ 56.Rf2 Rh4

After Anand's 56...Rh4
57.c4 Rh3 58.Kc2 Rh7 59.Nb2 Rh5 60.Re2 Rg5 61.Nd1 b5

Swapping all the pawns should certainly be a draw.

After Anand's 61...b5
Carlsen has a lot more time remaining than Anand. At move 60, they reached the last time control. The players now get thirty seconds per move.

62.Nc3 c6 63.Ne4 Rh5 64.Nf6 Rg5

After Anand's 64...Rg5
Anish Giri tweeted that it should be a draw now, and probably always was. He referred to Anand as "king of the fortresses".

Peter Svidler pointed out one of several stalemate possibilities in the position: 65.Kb2 Kb6 66.Nd7+ Ka5 67.Ka3 b4+ 68.Kb2 Rg2

65.Re7+ Kb6

Carlsen spent a lot of time on his move. Anand moved instantly.

Jan Gustaffson  tweeted that he doesn't see why everyone thinks it is an easy draw, as he would lose it. The moves in his tweet were the next ones played on the board.

66.Nd7+ Ka5 67.Re4

Here, Svidler suggested that Black needs to start checking.

67...b4? does not work to provoke stalemate because of 68.Ne5.

Svidler now prefers 67...Rh5, but 67...Rg2+ seems to hold.

Anand is thinking.


The checks begin. In one of the lines that might result from this decision, Anand will give up some pawns but can draw. It's one thing to work out such lines on a board without the pressure, it's quite another to do so from Anand's chair.

Anand's rook is proving quite active. Even his king and pawns have found something to do. If White wants to lose, he could find a way.

68.Kc1 Rg1+ 69.Kd2

After Carlsen's 69.Kd2
69...Rg2+ 70.Ke1

Where does Black's rook belong? With correct play, the game should be a draw. Defense is not trivial. Anand must find the correct approach.

70...bxc4 71.Rxc4 Rg3 72.Nxc5 Kb5 73.Rc2

After Carlsen's 73.Rc2
73...a5 74.Kf2 Rh3 75.Rc1 Kb4 76.Ke2 Rc3 77.Nd3+ Kxb3 78.Ra1

After Carlsen's 78.Ra1
Carlsen should have no expectations of winning this position, but there may be some benefit from torturing Anand a bit longer.

78...Kc4 79.Nf2

Svidler and Sopiko Guramishvili are feeling trapped as commentators. They are certain that the game is a draw, but Carlsen is keeping everyone at work as long as possible.

79...Kb5 80.Rb1+ Kc4 81.Ne4 Ra3 82.Nd2+ Kd5 83.Rh1 a4 84.Rh5+ Kd4

84...Kd6?? 85.Nc4+

85.Rh4+ Kc5 86.Kd1 Kb5

86...Rg3 87.Ne4+

87.Kc2 Rg3 88.Ne4 Rg2+ 89.Kd3 a3 90.Nc3+ Kb6 91.Ra4 a2 92.Nxa2 Rg3+ 93.Kc2 Rg2+ 94.Kb3 Rg3+ 95.Nc3 Rh3 96.Rb4+ Kc7 97.Rg4 Rh7 98.Kc4 Rf7 99.Rg5 Kb6 100.Na4+ Kc7 101.Kc5 Kd7 102.Kb6 Rf1 103.Nc5+ Ke7 104.Kxc6 

After Carlsen's 104.Kxc6
104...Rd1 105.Rg6 Kf7 106.Rh6 Rg1 107.Kd5 Rg5+ 108.Kd4 Rg6 109.Rh1 Rg2 110.Ne4 Ra2 111.Rf1+ Ke7 112.Nc3 Rh2 113.Nd5+ Kd6 114.Rf6+ Kd7 115.Nf4 Rh1 116.Rg6 Rd1+ 117.Nd3 Ke7 118.Ra6 Kd7 119.Ke4 Ke7 120.Rc6 Kd7 121.Rc1 Rxc1 122.Nxc1 1/2-1/2

They did not get the record of the longest World Championship game ever played, which remains the 124 move draw Korchnoi -- Karpov 1978.

"This now makes no sense to me whatsoever." Peter Svidler

To play so long and not go for the record. Why? It might be pointed out that Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov played their marathon with adjournments, so today's game was the longest WCC game played at a single sitting.

Carlsen leads 4-3. Anand has three more Whites in the remaining five games.

15 November 2014

Carlsen -- Anand, Game 6

Viswanathan Anand is defending a difficult position in the Sicilian Kan against Magnus Carlsen. It is game six of the World Championship match. The match is tied at 2.5-2.5.

Anand had the first White, so now Carlsen gets White two games in a row. After this game ends, the match is half-way through the standard games. Carlsen starts the second half with White.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) -- Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [B41]
WCC Sochi (6), 15.11.2014

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4

I have been looking at this position with some of my students who have been going through Paul Morphy's games from the First American Chess Congress 1857.


The correct move, in my opinion. It accounts for nearly half of the games in the database after 4.Nxd4. Louis Paulsen played 4...Bc5 three times against Morphy. Although Paulsen managed to draw one of these, they were all difficult for Black. Howard Staunton also played 4...Bc5 in his first match games against Adolf Anderssen in London 1851. Anderssen won a nice game with a model attack on the king. I went over that game with two students yesterday.

4...Nc6 and 4...Nf6 are playable.

5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4

6...Qc7 is more popular. Of course, the pin of the bishop is a standard plan in the Kan.


After Carlsen's 7.Qd3
7.Bd3 is the most common move by far.

7...Nc6 8.Nxc6 dxc6 9.Qxd8+ 

9.e5 has been played as well.

9...Kxd8 10.e5 Nd7N 11.Bf4 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3

After Carlsen's 12.bxc3
12...Kc7 13.h4 b6 14.h5 h6 15.0–0–0 Bb7 16.Rd3 c5 17.Rg3 Rag8 18.Bd3 Nf8 19.Be3 g6

After Anand's 19...g6
20.hxg6 Nxg6 21.Rh5 Bc6

A nice waiting move. How can White improve his position?

22.Bc2 Kb7 23.Rg4

Peter Svidler and Sopiko Guramishvili were considering several possibilities, but had not examined this move by Carlsen. They quickly concluded, however, that it is a very strong move.

23...a5 24.Bd1 Rd8 25.Bc2 Rdg8

One repetition of the position.


Carlsen proceeds with an interesting plan. In the press conference, he called this move a mistake.

After Carlsen's 26.Kd2

26...Nxe5 exploits Carlsen's error. The commentators had been looking for scenarios in which Black can win the e-pawn. Here the opportunity presents itself.

The critical lines, it seems to me without engine checking, are:

a) 27.Rxg8 Nxc4+ 28.Kd3 Nb2+ 29.Kd2 Rxg8 and Black is ahead two pawns.
b) 27.Rxe5 sacrificing the exchange 27...Rxg4 28.g3 and maybe White can pick up the h-pawn.

27.Ke2 a3 28.f3 Rd8 29.Ke1 Rd7 30.Bc1 Ra8 31.Ke2

After Carlsen's 31.Ke2

Perhaps 31...Ne7

32.Be4+ Bc6 33.Bxg6 fxg6 34.Rxg6

After Carlsen's 34.Rxg6
Vladimir Kramnik has joined Peter Svidler in the broadcast studio. They find the position very complicated. Maybe Black can hold.


34...Rd8 may have been necessary, according to Svidler and Kramnik.

35.Rxe6 Rd1 36.Bxa3 Ra1 37.Ke3 Bc2 38.Re7+ 1-0

Carlsen takes the lead 3.5 - 2.5.

This post will be updated ...

14 November 2014

Anand -- Carlsen, Game 5

In order to blog the World Championship match, I need to set the alarm to arise early. I was awake a few minutes after today's game began and looked at the game on my iPad from the comfort of bed. An hour later, I looked at the game again and concluded that Viswanathan Anand was not getting much with the White pieces.

When the alarm went off, I made coffee and fed the dogs. By the time I settled into my chair to check on the game, it was over and Magnus Carlsen and Anand were sitting at the board discussing the game. The press conference started a few minutes later.

Reporters are proving adept at asking questions the players will not answer.

Magnus, are you still looking for a response to 1.d4?

Vishy, are you playing at your best?
During a match is not the time for such analysis.

Magnus, after 22.Qf3, did you feel as if you were playing against yourself?
No, but of course it is more pleasant to play White in such a position.

Anand,Viswanathan (2792) -- Carlsen,Magnus (2863) [E16]
WCC Sochi (5), 14.11.2014

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2

5.Nbd2 is also playable, but Anand's move is vastly more popular.

5...Be7 6.Nc3 Bb7 7.Bg2

Black to move
After Anand's 7.Bg3

I have had White in this position twice in online games. I misplayed both games, winning on time in a dead lost position and forcing a draw by repetition after squandering a material advantage in the other.


Carlsen chooses an uncommon move

8.e4 d5 9.exd5

9.cxd5 has also been played.

9...cxd5 10.Ne5 0–0 11.0–0 Nc6 12.cxd5 Nxe5 13.d6!?N

13.dxe5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.Bc3 Bxg2 16.Qxd8 Rfxd8 17.Kxg2 Rd5 18.Rfd1 Rad8 19.Rxd5 Rxd5 20.f4 f5 21.Rc1 Kf7 22.Be1 ½–½ Komljenovic,D (2465) -- Palac,M (2561) Sibenik 2010

Black to move
After Anand's 13.d6

13...Nc6 14.dxe7 Qxe7

Anand has created an imbalance of bishop versus knight.

15.Bg5 h6 16.d5 Na5 17.Bxf6 Qxf6

The minor piece imbalance has been eliminated. Anand is, however, maintaining the initiative.

18.dxe6 Qxe6 19.Re1 Qf6 20.Nd5 Bxd5 21.Bxd5

Again, there is a minor piece imbalance.

21...Rad8 22.Qf3

Here the game becomes interesting. During the press conference, the players went through a couple of interesting variations that they considered during the game.

Black to move
After Anand's 22.Qf3

22...Qxb2 23.Rad1 Qf6 24.Qxf6 gxf6 25.Re7

Black to move
After Anand's 25.Re7


25...Nc6 reveals potential dangers in this position 26.Rc7 Ne5 (26...Rd6 27.Rxc6; 26...Nb4 27.Bxf7+ Kg7 28.Be8+) 27.Rxa7.

26.Rxa7 Nc6 27.Rb7

27.Rc7 Ne5 28.f4 Rd7 29.Rb7.

27...Nb4 28.Bb3 Rxd1+ 29.Bxd1 Nxa2 30.Rxb6 Nc3 31.Bf3 f5 

White to move
After Carlsen's 31...f5
32.Kg2 Rd8 33.Rc6 Ne4 34.Bxe4 fxe4 35.Rc4 f5 36.g4 Rd2 37.gxf5 e3

White to move
After Carlsen's 37...e3

38.Re4 Rxf2+ 39.Kg3 Rxf5 ½–½

The match score is 2.5-2.5

Carlsen gets White in the next two games.