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.

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