12 November 2013

Carlsen -- Anand 2013, Game 3

Today, I started to favor Magnus Carlsen. Although most commentators believed that Anand had a slight edge, I sensed a bit of hope that Carlsen could win. I think the Reti Opening suits his style of making his opponent play chess. Having employed the Reti myself with some regularity a few years ago, I set aside my desires for Anand to retain his title.

The Reti has not been a popular choice in battles among top players. Black too easily finds equality. However, today's game had imbalances. Both sides had strengths. Carlsen thrives in equal but unbalanced positions.

At a critical point in the game, Anand rejected a line that many commentators believe gave him strong winning chances.
I think I made a couple of misjudgements in the middlegame.
Magnus Carlsen, Press Conference 
Whenever I go on any pawn hunting expedition, he always generates enough counterplay.
Viswanathan Anand, Press Conference

Carlsen,Magnus (2870) -- Anand,Viswanathan (2775) [A09]
FWCM 2013 Chennai (3), 12.11.2013

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Qa4+ Nc6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.Nc3 e5 7.Qxc4 Nge7 8.0–0 0–0 9.d3 h6 10.Bd2

Black to move


Anand's move appears to be a novelty. My engines see equality after 10...Be6, but a slight edge for White after Anand's move. Such engine evaluations are not particularly trustworthy. Engines have improved vastly in positional evaluation over the past few years, but top Grandmasters remain stronger at this element of the game.

More important than what engines think is how well Anand and Carlsen understand such positions. Today's game reveals that both found the game difficult, but they were able to maintain relative equilibrium. It was a satisfying draw.

Reference Games:

10...Be6 11.Qa4 Nd4 12.Rfc1 f5 13.Ne1 c5 14.Bxb7 Rb8 15.Bg2 Rxb2 16.Be3 Nxe2+ 17.Nxe2 Rxe2 18.Bxc5 e4 19.d4 f4 20.Rc2 Rxc2 21.Qxc2 e3 22.fxe3 fxe3 23.Qe4 Qd7 24.Nf3 Re8 25.Qxe3 Nf5 26.Qf2 Bd5 27.Re1 Rxe1+ 28.Qxe1 Bxf3 29.Bxf3 Nxd4 30.Bg2 a6 31.Kh1 Qf5 32.Bb6 Kh7 33.a4 a5 34.Qd1 Qe5 35.Qf1 h5 36.Bd8 Qe8 37.Bxa5 Qxa4 38.Bc3 Nf5 39.Bxg7 Kxg7 40.Qc1 ½–½ Kuzubov,Y (2624) -- Negi,P (2607) New Delhi 2011

10...Nf5 11.Na4 Ncd4 12.Nxd4 Nxd4 13.Rfe1 c6 14.e3 b5 15.Qc1 bxa4 16.exd4 Qxd4 17.Re4 Qxd3 18.Bxh6 Bf5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Rxe5 Rab8 21.Ra5 Qd4 22.Qc3 Rfd8 23.Rxa4 Qxc3 24.bxc3 Rb2 25.h4 Rdd2 26.Rf4 c5 27.a4 a5 28.Re1 Be6 29.Re5 c4 30.Rxa5 Rbc2 31.Rc5 Rxc3 32.a5 Ra3 33.Bf1 c3 34.Bc4 Bxc4 35.Rfxc4 Raa2 36.Rxc3 Rxf2 37.a6 Rg2+ 38.Kf1 ½–½ Obukhov,A (2487) -- Yevseev,D (2589) Krasnoyarsk 2003

11.Nxd4 exd4 12.Ne4 c6 13.Bb4 Be6 14.Qc1 Bd5

White to move

Black is certainly no worse.

15.a4 b6

Anand threatens to lock out White's dark-squared bishop.


In his YouTube video, Kingscrusher discusses a light-square strategy for Carlsen.

16...Qxe7 17.a5 Rab8 18.Re1 Rfc8 19.axb6 axb6 20.Qf4

Black to move

The game has reached an interesting position. Black's queenside pawns appear strong, but White has active play and possible threats on the kingside and in the center. The threat of Qd6 to swap queens and bishops might be a prelude to a maneuver to set the knight on c4 as a blockade.

20...Rd8 21.h4 Kh7 22.Nd2 Be5 23.Qg4

Black to move


Anand could have forced a draw by repetition. 23...Be6 24.Qe4 Bd5.

24.Qh3 Be6 25.Qh1

When I woke up this morning and saw Carlsen's queen on h1, I knew that I would need my morning coffee.

25...c5 26.Ne4 Kg7 27.Ng5 b5 28.e3!

IM Panayotis Frendzas called this "a brilliant move" in the discussion forums on Chess.com.

28...dxe3 29.Rxe3

Black to move


Does 29...Bxb2 offer Black winning chances? Anand was asked about it in the post-game press conference. Andrew Martin thought it offered Black good prospects. His YouTube video on today's game looks at several lines that end with a queen and pawn ending where Black has an additional passed pawn.

Anand was asked about 29...Bxb2 by Anastasia Karlovich, host of the press conference. He admits that he "might have been mistaken," but he thought White had "enough play for the pawn." I recall that Carlsen had about ten minutes, and Anand perhaps twelve at this point. With more time on the clock, there would have been an opportunity to calculate more deeply.

After 29...Bxb2!? 30.Rae1 Rb6, 31.Bd5 looks sharper than 31.Bh3. In either case, play would continue with 31...Bd4 (White is clearly better after 31...Rxd5 32.Qxd5 Bxd5 33.Rxe7).

White to move
Theoretical Position
32.Rxe6 fxe6 33.Rxe6 Qf8! 34.Qg2

Black to move
Theoretical Position

Daniel King noted that Anand would have needed to find this move before playing 29...Bxb2. Andrew Martin highlighted the importance of Black's next move.

35.Rxd6 Qxd6 and Black seems better. Was this complex sequence a real chance for a win?

Anand chose to keep the game under control.

30.Re2 c4 31.Nxe6+ fxe6 32.Be4 cxd3 33.Rd2

Black to move


Anand might have tried 33...Rf8. This was the second point where commentators have suggested that Anand might have found some winning chances. Anand was asked about this line in the press conference. He said that he did not see any clear advantage that would come from winning the f-pawn.

In the three videos that I watched, only King suggested 34.Kh2 to step out of the pin.

If 33...Rf8!? 34.Rad1 Rxf2 35.Rxf2 Rf8

White to move
Theoretical Position
This position looks grim for White due to the pin, weaknesses on g3 and b2, and the passive placement of the White queen. Even so, White can play Rxe3, then Rf3 and Qg2 while Black is building up pressure. Perhaps this position is winning for Black.

However, the line 33...Rf8 34.Kh2 seems less promising. Indeed, Black's king may prove less secure than White's.

34.Rad1 Bxb2 35.Qf3 Bf6 36.Rxd3 Rxd3 37.Rxd3

Black to move


Even here, Anand had to defend his choice, as journalists thought this rook could go to f8 and the bishop to d4 to exploit a weakness on f2.

38.Rxd8 Bxd8 39.Bd3 Qd4 40.Bxb5 Qf6

It is alleged that Anand offered a draw here, and that Carlsen refused.

41.Qb7+ Be7 42.Kg2 g5 43.hxg5 Qxg5 44.Bc4 h4 45.Qc7 hxg3 46.Qxg3 e5 47.Kf3 Qxg3+ 48.fxg3 Bc5 49.Ke4 Bd4 50.Kf5 Bf2 51.Kxe5 Bxg3+ ½–½

After three days of complaining about two short draws to begin this match, the players have given chess fans a game that we can argue about for the next decade.

1 comment:

  1. 34...Rdd6! is indeed best, but things are far from clear after 35.Kf1. I have not been able to find a convincing way for Black to get a real advantage.