21 November 2013

Anand -- Carlsen 2013, Game 9

This was the correct choice. I have no regrets about that.
Viswanathan Anand, Press Conference
World Champion Viswanathan Anand went all out trying to checkmate Magnus Carlsen. There were some sharp lines that both players needed to calculate. In the end, Carlsen defended accurately and Anand may have missed a line where he could have saved a half-point. Carlsen needs one draw in the next three games. He has White tomorrow.

Anand,Viswanathan (2775) -- Carlsen,Magnus (2870) [E25]
FWCM 2013 Chennai (9), 21.11.2013

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.e3

Black to move


This move was first played by Alberic O'Kelly against Victor Kortchnoi in 1954. The game was drawn. Eight years later, O'Kelly had the White side and lost.

8...O-O is the most popular line, but White scores well.
8...Qc7 scores well for Black, as does the line played by Carlsen


This move was first played by Viktors Pupols.


Reference Game:

9...Bf5 10.Nf4 0–0 11.g4 Bg6 12.h4 h6 13.Bg2 Bh7 14.0–0 Nc6 15.g5 hxg5 16.hxg5 Ne8 17.e4 Nc7 18.e5 b5 19.Qe1 Ne6 20.Qg3 Nxf4 21.Bxf4 a5 22.Kf2 Bg6 23.Rh1 Qe7 24.Rae1 f6 25.gxf6 1–0 Pupols,V -- Wang,A Seattle 1982.


This pawn thrust was played on move 9 in O'Kelly's games.

10...0–0 11.Bg2 Na5 12.0–0 Nb3 13.Ra2 b5 

White to move


Reference Game:

14.g5 Nd7 15.e4 Nb6 16.e5 Bf5 17.f4 Na4 18.Rf3 Bb1 19.Rc2 a5 20.Rh3 b4 21.Be3 Bxc2 22.Qxc2 g6 23.axb4 axb4 24.cxb4 Nb6 25.f5 Qd7 26.Ng3 Ra1+ 27.Bf1 Nc8 28.Rh6 Ne7 29.Qg2 Nxf5 30.Qh3 Rfa8 31.Rxh7 Kf8 32.Ne2 Nxe3 33.Qxe3 Qg4+ 34.Ng3 R8a2 35.e6 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Qd1+ 37.Qe1 Qf3+ 0–1 Gardner,R (2202) -- Shabalov,A (2534) Calgary 2012.


The game's novelty.

14...Bb7 was played in a short draw in 2011.
14...Re8 was played in a game on the Internet Chess Club that White won.

15.g5 Ne8 16.e4 Nxc1 17.Qxc1 Ra6 18.e5 Nc7 19.f4

19.Rb2 may have been considered.

Carlsen discussed the position after 19.f4 during the press conference. "There were an amazing number of complicated lines," he noted. He would have liked to play g6 and maneuver his knight to f5 to blockade the pawns. But, then White can build up pressure on the queenside. Consequently, Carlsen explained, "I had to go all out for counterplay."

19...b4 20.axb4 axb4 21.Rxa6 Nxa6

White to move


22.cxb4 may lead to equality, but that is not Anand's intent.

22...b3 23.Qf4

"I wasn't sure what to do. As it happens, my moves weren't that complicated. I had to play the only moves all the time." Magnus Carlsen, Press Conference


Anand said that he anticipated 23...Kh8 24.f6 g6 25.Qh4 b2 with the difference that after Rb1, Black has Qa5.


Black to move


24...gxf6 is an option, but "25.Nh5 looked very dangerous here" (Carlsen).

25.Qh4 Ne8 26.Qh6

26.Ne2 might have been possible.

In the press conference, Anand went through a line where he tried to explain what he missed while anticipating this moment from an earlier position, but his line is hard to follow because Carlsen's b-pawn disappears from the board.

Where's Carlsen's b-pawn?

It was the speed of Anand's analysis that was hard to follow. Note that White's knight, too, is missing. The pawn promoted and the queen was exchanged.

26...b2 27.Rf4 b1Q+

White to move


28.Bf1 Qd1 29.Rh4 Qh5 30.Nxh5 gxh5 31.Rxh5 (In the photo above, Anand was looking at 31.Bh3, and the problem is that Black has 31...Qb6) 31...Bf5 32.Bh3 Bg6 33.e6 Nxf6 34.gxf6 Qxf6 35.Re5 (the computer likes 35.Rf5 Qxe6 36.Rf1) 35...fxe6 36.Qe3 and White can hold. Carlsen showed this line in the press conference, stating that he and Anand had discussed it after the game.

28...Qe1 0–1


  1. When I woke up and looked at the live stream, it was the position after 19.f4. Definitely scary for Black to see a pawn phalanx like that. I liked how Carlsen admitted afterwards that he was scared pretty much throughout--though he also said he never saw anything definite for White.

    Gotta give credit to Anand for going for it, even though berserk attacks often fizzle out and backfire.

    1. I awoke about that point as well, looked at the game, and went back to sleep. When I woke up a second time, the game had just ended.

      I enjoyed the press conference. Anand seemed to be making peace with his fate. Whatever he tries tomorrow, Carlsen likely will shut it down quick. We can hope that Anand gives him another scare.

  2. 28.Nf1? loses the game. So shouldn't this move be annotated as "28:Nf1???" ?

    1. Two question marks would be the norm. Never three. In World Championship games, I let the GMs put double question marks. Much smaller errors lose games and a single mark is sufficient to identify the move in question.