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|
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
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|
Giri,A (2768) -- Radjabov,T (2726) [C67]
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
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|
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.
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|
Swapping all the pawns should certainly be a draw.
|After Anand's 61...b5|
62.Nc3 c6 63.Ne4 Rh5 64.Nf6 Rg5
|After Anand's 64...Rg5|
Peter Svidler pointed out one of several stalemate possibilities in the position: 65.Kb2 Kb6 66.Nd7+ Ka5 67.Ka3 b4+ 68.Kb2 Rg2
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|
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|
|After Carlsen's 78.Ra1|
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
85.Rh4+ Kc5 86.Kd1 Kb5
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|
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.