20 November 2014

Carlsen -- Anand, Game 9

When I awoke at 4:10 am, the ninth game of the World Championship had been underway a few minutes. I grabbed my iPad from the side of the bed and checked on the game. Seeing that it was another Berlin Defense, I put the iPad down and went back to sleep.

No, I do not consider the Berlin boring. Rather, I expected another long game and could use the sleep. Sleep avoided me. At 5:00 am, I checked on the game again. It appeared that Magnus Carlsen could force a draw against challenger Viswanathan Anand. With a one point lead in the match, Carlsen retains his crown if he can manage a draw in every remaining game.

Carlsen's reputation is to play on until "every resource is exhausted," as Peter Svidler so ably put it during the commentary on an earlier game in this match. Perhaps a short draw, however, would be a way to increase psychological pressure on Anand. The challenger is under growing pressure to find a way to win. He has one win against Carlsen in the past few years. That win was last week.

I played a couple of blitz games on Chess.com while still in my warm bed. After a stunning game in which my opponent resigned a rook ahead, I returned to the World Championship game. It was over.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) -- Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [C67]
WCC Sochi (9), 20.11.2014

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

The oldest game in the Chessbase database with 9.h3 is Gaprindashvili,N -- Vreeken,C from a preliminary round of the Women's World Championship in 1978. It is a hot move now, having been played by such players as Aronian, Caruana, Karjakin, and Grischuk. Carlsen also played it in game 7 of this match.

9...Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Ne2 

Carlsen played 11.Bf4 in game 7. 11.Ne2 is relatively uncommon, but is something that Anand should be prepared for.

After Carlsen's 11.Ne2
Reference Game:

Carlsen,Magnus (2772) - Jakovenko,Dmitrij (2760) [C67]
Dortmund SuperGM Dortmund (1), 02.07.2009

11...Be7 12.Bg5 Be6 13.Nf4 Bd5 14.Bxe7 Kxe7 15.Ng5 Nd4 16.Rad1 Ne6 17.Ngxe6 Bxe6 18.h4 a5 19.a3 a4 20.Rfe1 g6 21.f3 Ra5 22.c3 Rb5 23.Re2 Ra8 24.Rd4 Raa5 25.Kf2 Rxe5 26.Rxe5 Rxe5 27.Rxa4 Rb5 28.b4 c5 29.Ra7 cxb4 30.cxb4 Kd7 31.Ne2 Rb6 32.Ke3 Bc4 33.Nd4 Kd6 34.Ra5 Ra6 35.Rxa6+ bxa6 36.g4 hxg4 37.fxg4 Ke5 38.Nc6+ Kf6 39.Kf4 Ke6 40.h5 gxh5 41.gxh5 Bd3 42.Ke3 Bf1 43.h6 Kf6 44.Ne5 Bb5 45.Kd4 Ba4 46.h7 Kg7 47.Nxf7 Kxh7 48.Ng5+ Kg6 49.Ne6 1–0


There are ten prior instances of  this move in the reference database that I use. Four of these games were decisive, with two wins for each side.

12.Rd1 Ba6 13.Nf4

After Carlsen's 13.Nf4

Reference Game:

Dominguez Perez,Leinier (2726) -- Ponomariov,Ruslan (2741) [C67]
ESP-chT CECLUB Honor Leon (5.2), 09.11.2012

13... Rd8 14.Bd2 Nd4 15.Nxd4 Rxd4 16.a4 Bc8 17.a5 a6 18.Be3 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 b5 20.Nd3 Be7 21.Bc5 Bd8 22.Nb4 Rh6 23.f4 f5 24.c3 Bh4 25.Rd3 Rg6 26.Kh2 Bb7 27.Nc2 Bc8 28.g3 Bd8 29.h4 Be6 30.Nb4 Bc8 31.Rd2 Bb7 32.Rd1 Bc8 33.Rh1 Bb7 34.Kg2 Be7 35.Nd3 Bd8 36.Kf2 Rh6 37.Re1 Bc8 38.Nb4 Kf7 39.Rd1 Ke8 40.Re1 Kf7 41.Re3 Rg6 42.Ke2 Rh6 43.Kd2 Rg6 44.b3 Rh6 45.c4 Rg6 46.Kc3 Rh6 47.Nc2 Re6 48.Nd4 Re8 49.Rd3 bxc4 50.bxc4 Bd7 51.Re3 Be7 52.Bxe7 Kxe7 53.e6 Bc8 54.Kb4 Kf6 55.Kc5 Bb7 56.Nxc6 g6 57.e7 Ba8 58.Re5 Bb7 59.Nd8 Bg2 60.Nc6 Kf7 61.Nb4 Rxe7 62.Rxe7+ Kxe7 63.Nxa6 Kd8 64.Nb4 Ba8 65.Nc6+ Kc8 66.a6 1–0

14.e6 Bd6 15.exf7+ Kxf7 16.Ng5+ Kf6 17.Ne4+ Kf7 18.Ng5+ Kf6 19.Ne4+ Kf7 20.Ng5+ ½–½

Spanish Opening games in this match have averaged 71 moves. Perhaps Anand's novelty refutes Carlsen's preparation, so Carlsen opted to bail. Perhaps a short draw was all he wanted from the beginning.

The Berlin Defense was revived in popularity after many years of neglect when Vladimir Kramnik adopted it in his World Championship Match against Garry Kasparov. Kasparov could not win with the White pieces. Since then, many games have demonstrated that either side can fight for advantage as there are several imbalances in the position.

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