22-year-old Magnus Carlsen is the new World Champion after
defeating Viswanathan Anand 6.5:3.5 in their match in Chennai, India. While the
ultimate result was in little doubt the final game was anything but the quick
formality most had predicted. Anand opened aggressively but Carlsen soon
scented blood and delayed his own coronation in an attempt to score a fourth
win in the match. GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov annotates a draw that will go down in
With Anand needing three wins in a row against the hardest player to beat in world chess the pre-game talk was of how long it would take for the players to shake hands.
The Norwegian media was pretty sure of the result:
Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who’s shared so many moments of triumph with Anand, annotates the final game of the Indian World Champion’s reign:
It's really difficult to annotate games where the chess content really isn't that important. It was Game 10 of the World Championship match and Magnus was leading with 3 wins and no losses, needing only a draw from the 3 remaining games to clinch the coveted title. I don't think either of the players had any more doubts...
3. ♗b5+ Magnus has played this against Vishy frequently and successfully - one wonders if going for the Sicilian was a genuine fighting attempt...
I guess White did everything right - this kind of position is essentially considered unloseable or, as GM Peter Leko likes to say - cement :)
27. ♖cd3 looks strong, but in fact after 27... b5 28. cxb5 axb5 29. a5 b4 30. ♕xb4 ♖a8 Black should draw comfortably, even though a draw is equivalent to a loss in this match situation. By now, while watching the game live, I had the distinct feeling that Magnus was planning to finish on a high note...
27... ♖d7 28. a5 Black is now completely paralysed - one marvels at Carlsen's abilty to weave such spider's webs around his opponent. Vishy now makes a mistake, but in fact I don't see any moves for Black that make much sense at all. In bad positions there are only bad moves...
28... ♔h8 These two moves are the kind Black had left at his disposal - basically just waiting for execution...
The first and only time in the match we actually saw ANY sign of weakness from Magnus. After any other reasonable move - keeping the black knight on e8 and the pin on the d-file - Vishy might just have resigned.
30... ♖c6 Now it looks drawish. Most people I know would try to make sure nothing goes wrong, but Magnus continues to play for a win!
31. f4 ♕d8 32. ♖ed3 ♖cxd6 33. ♖xd6 ♖xd6 34. ♖xd6 ♕xd6 35. ♕xd6 ♘xd6 36. ♔f2 ♔f8 37. ♔e3 ♔e7 38. ♔d4 ♔d7 39. ♔c5! Centralising and going for it! This felt risky, given the circumstances, but fear doesn't seem to be a word that features much in Magnus' world. How I envy that...
43. ♘d2! is a modest move that would have allowed White to keep control. The black knight is nicely dominated. 43... ♘d1 (43... g5 44. fxg5 hxg5 45. ♔d4 ♘c2+ 46. ♔e5 ♔d7 47. ♔f6 g4 48. h4± ) 44. ♔d4 ♘f2 45. h4 ♘h1 46. ♘f1 ♘f2 47. b4 ♘e4 48. g4 ♘d6 49. g5±
49. ♘xf5+ exf5 50. ♔b6 ♘g2 51. ♔xb7 ♘xf4 52. ♔xa6 ♘e6 53. ♔b6 f4 54. a6 f3 55. a7 f2 56. a8Q f1Q 57. ♕d5 ♕e1 58. ♕d6 ♕e3+ 59. ♔a6 ♘c5+ 60. ♔b5 ♘xb3 61. ♕c7+ ♔h6 62. ♕b6+ ♕xb6+ 63. ♔xb6 ♔h5 64. h4 ♔xh4 65. c5 ♘xc5
A whirlwind has swept away everything that was left on the board. After symbolically playing to bare kings, Magnus finally lets Vishy go home, with both of them probably relieved the match is over.
I haven't seen such a convincing dethroning since Capa beat Lasker in Havana in 1921... Lasker continued to play top level chess for many years after that loss and in fact was the best tournament player in the world for some more years. Magnus is the best player now beyond any doubt - the real question is whether Vishy will find the strength to shake off the loss and return to his usual level. It's gonna be tough - losing minus 3 at home is the kind of thing that could leave a very deep wound.
The congratulations poured in, both from the world of chess...
The post-game press conference was an opportunity for the players to finally reveal their thoughts on the match without any fear of giving away precious information to their opponent.
On the final game
Anand: I think today was a kind of a microcosm of the match. I was just trying to keep playing and then at some point I started to make mistakes. I simply blundered Qg5 – I saw the same tactic for Qc5, but I put the queen on g5 instead and the same e5 happened…
Carlsen: I was just trying to play solidly in the opening and I’m pretty happy with what I got – a very solid position with no weaknesses.
As the game went on he started to drift a bit and then I thought as long as there was no risk I should try and win it. At some point after the time control the variations were simply getting too complicated so I decided to shut it down and force a draw. I think it was a nice fight and a worthy end to the match.
When I took on d6 I missed something simple. I thought I was just winning with that. If I’d known that move wasn’t so good I’d have found a better move. That wasn’t terribly impressive but anyway, it doesn’t feel very important now.
On the match as a whole
Anand: Well it’s clear that he dominated. At the start of the match I thought my chances depended on my ability to last long games without making a lot of mistakes. This year I’ve had a lot of problems with mistakes creeping into my play. I kind of tried to pay some attention to that, but in the end it was in vain, because the way I lost the 5th game was exactly the way I thought I could not afford to lose. A fine position in the opening, then I slowly slip... I was simply not able to execute my strategy.
Carlsen: I think Game 3, Game 4 – that was the key. Game 3 was a vulnerable moment for me, but in both games 3 and 4 I could sense he was vulnerable as well, and from that moment on I settled in and I just stopped worrying about the occasion and started playing chess the way I usually do – that worked out pretty well.
I would like to take some responsibility for his mistakes, that’s for sure. It’s been that way for me for a long time. I just play and people crack under pressure, even in World Championships. That’s what history shows. You just have to keep on pushing and usually things go right.
Obviously each of the blunders that he made are unusual, as those aren’t mistakes he usually makes, but I think it has to do with being put under pressure. That’s really all I wanted to do in this match. Make him sit at the board and make him think for a long time.
On each other
Anand: I think it’s fair enough to just congratulate him. My mistakes didn’t happen by themselves - clearly he managed to provoke them and full credit to him.
Carlsen: Of course Vishy’s been World Champion for so long, one of the greatest of all time, and I’m honoured to have played a match with him and of course very happy to have got the better of him. I really hope he’ll be back in the Candidates.
On the future
Anand: I want to first get some rest, take stock of what has happened, and come to terms with everything here. At the end of the day my play in the match was a big disappointment. I didn’t manage to achieve any of the things I tried to aim for. So I’ll take stock. I assume I’ll play the Candidates, but you’re going much too fast. I’ll first take some rest and then take it from there.
Carlsen: I’m just very happy to have won and to have completed this match. Let’s write the history books later.
Magnus could finally relax, although it looks unlikely he'll enjoy a quiet life in the near future!
Carlsen half-joked to a Norwegian newspaper that he might take some time off now to become a celebrity, and he made a spectacular start. Viswanathan Anand was a magnificent champion, but his sponsors missed a trick by not throwing him into a swimming pool when he gained the title!
All the chess24 World Championship game reports:
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