23 November 2014

Carlsen -- Anand, Game 11

Magnus Carlsen is on the cusp of successfully defending his World Champion title. The former champion and challenger, Viswanathan Anand, was able to reach a promising position against Carlsen's Grunfeld Defense in game 10, but released the pressure and the game fizzled out as a draw.

Carlsen leads 5.5 - 4.5. Draws in the final two games will secure match victory for the champion. Will Anand play aggressively with Black today in order to try to level the match score?

I predict a Sicilian Defense if Carlsen persists with 1.e4.

Anand Playing the Sicilian, Game 4

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) - Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [B27]
WCC Sochi (11), 23.11.2014

1.e4 e5

1...c5 had been my prediction 2.Nf3.

2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Bd7

Carlsen played this move in last year's World Championship match. In today's game, it signals that Anand seeks a double-edged game. I was incorrect in my prediction that he would play the Sicilian, but his manner of playing the Berlin today reflects a fighting spirit.


10.Rd1 is the most popular choice, and was Anand's in Chennai.

10...h6 11.b3 Kc8 12.Bb2 c5


After Anand's 12...c5
Anand seems to be playing a slightly unusual move order.

13.Rad1 b6

Carlsen is thinking.


Anand is thinking.

14...Be6 15.Nd5 g5

After Anand's 15...g5

Carlsen has used 32 minutes so far. My database was showing one reference game before Carlsen's move 16, but this game was not between grandmasters.

Others are calling Anand's 14...Be6 the game's novelty.

I am not able to access ChessBase Online this morning, so am relying upon the slightly less comprehensive database on my computer (5.5 million games).


The Grandmaster commentators, Peter Svidler and Ian Nepomniachtchi, are finding much to say while the players think. I have less to say, lacking deep insights into this position.

Classic notions of development and common sense indicate that Black still needs to deploy his dark-squared bishop and determine the best files for his rooks.


What is Carlsen's plan? Is he freeing the g1 square for redeployment of the knight on f3? Is an f-pawn thrust part of his plan?

17...a5 18.a4 Ne7 19.g4

These last two moves came quickly.

19...Ng6 20.Kg3

It appears that Carlsen intends to play h4, exchange pawns on g5, and either play f2-f4 or penetrate with his rooks on the opened h-file.


After Anand's 20...Be7
Black's rooks are connected. Seigbert Tarrasch might say that he is close to completing his development.

21.Nd2 Rhd8 22.Ne4 Bf8

Anand has an hour for the next eighteen moves. Carlsen is thinking, and has about 51 minutes remaining. 23.Nef6 seems like an obvious candidate.


I predicted a move!

Carlsen has 47 minutes left.


After Anand's 23...b5!?

Svidler and Nepomniachtchi had been discussing this move, but not in this precise position. In their analysis, c7-c6 had been played first.
"White's task is more difficult than Black's."
Ian Nepomniachtchi

Anand has 49 minutes and his clock is running. Carlsen has 38 minutes. Carlsen's last move defers opening any files on the queenside, where Anand is prepared to give lessons on the vulnerability of his king, who "can take care of himself" (Steinitz).
"A very curious position."
 Peter Svidler
24...bxa4 25.bxa4 Kc6

Anand should not be underestimated.


The king is a fighting piece.

Anand has been thinking more than fifteen minutes and now has the same time remaining as Carlsen.

And now he has less time. He has been thinking more than eighteen minutes.


Anand is now behind on the clocks for the first time today.

Does this rook have more scope for attack on the b-file? Was Anand's move defensive in nature?


Carlsen seizes the opposition. He also steps out of a potential pin of his bishop.

27...Rb4! (or ?, or !?)

Mouseslip. He meant to go to b3. (I'm kidding, but that was my first thought.)

28.Bxb4 cxb4

Anand sacrificed the exchange. He is playing for a win!

After Anand's 28...cxb4
This position is unclear. Peter Svidler points out that Black is a full exchange down and has no clear threats. Yet, the computer sees slightly less than a one pawn advantage for White.


Carlsen anticipates Kb7 and c6, so maintains an "rechargeable knight" (Tryfon Gavriel) on f6.

29...Kb7 30.f4 gxf4 31.Nhxf4 Nxf4 32.Nxf4 Bxc4

No rechargeable knight on f6, but rather an idea that I had looked at several hours ago when the material was still equal.


27...Rb4 is starting to look like a mistake. Both players are slightly under fifteen minutes for the next several moves.

After Carlsen's 33.Rd7
"This looks unpleasant." Peter Svidler


"We failed to consider this...an important move." Peter Svidler

34.Nd5 Rc6 35.Rxf7 Bc5 36.Rxc7+ Rxc7 37.Nxc7

After Carlsen's 37.Nxc7


38.Nb5 Bxb5 39.axb5 Kxb5 40.e6 b3

I predicted this move just before Svidler mentioned it.

Both players have reached the time control.

After Anand's 40...b3
I think that Carlsen will win today and end the match. However, Black has chances if Carlsen misplays the position. A win by Anand is not out of the question.

Anand took a risk when he sacrificed the exchange. He forced issues.

Thinking that Carlsen would go into a long think, the commentators went away for a break. But, they came back immediately because Carlsen played a move.

41.h4 Be7 42.Kd3 a4 43.g5

"Black is not in time, I think." Peter Svidler

43...hxg5 44.hxg5 a3 45.Kc3 1-0

Carlsen wins 6.5-4.5.

Anand was well prepared for the Berlin and should not have been worse after 26.Kf3. But, he chose a sharp line that pressed the issue. Carlsen played precisely and retained his title.

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