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Reports Nov 10, 2013 | 7:00 PMby Colin McGourty

Anand-Carlsen, Game 2: A risky experiment

An Indian journalist in the post-game press conference began his question to World Champion Vishy Anand, “you played e4 to thunderous applause from the young chess fans in Chennai…”, but in terms of excitement it was downhill from there in Game 2 of the World Championship match. Magnus Carlsen surprised his opponent with his reply, Anand chose a cautious line of play and after only 25 moves the players had again drawn by repeating moves. As chess24’s GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov points out in his analysis, however, Carlsen’s choice would actually have been “a risky opening experiment” - if Anand had been ready for a sharp fight.

Although the chess in Chennai is yet to burst into life the anticipation around the match has long since reached fever pitch. 

Wish for Vishy website was set up before the event began and the “wishing wall” in the hotel has been deluged with messages of support for both players | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Garry Kasparov has a lot to answer for after he compared Magnus Carlsen to Harry Potter! | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Whether Magnus can match Vishy’s numbers with a billion Indians behind him is doubtful, but he’s gathered attention not usually devoted to chess players!

The atmosphere was of course a bit more staid in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chennai – how many sportsmen prepare like this for a critical encounter? | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

The one place the studious atmosphere hasn’t taken hold is among the scrum of photographers fighting to capture the players’ expressions at the start of each game.

Yes, we meant "fighting" literally! | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

The pre-game handshake - destined to become one of the iconic photos of the match? | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

chess24’s Rustam Kasimdzhanov knows exactly what a World Championship match means after being an integral part of Vishy Anand’s team for his three victorious matches. Who better, then, to point out exactly what was going on in an apparently bloodless encounter:

1. e4 c6  

Sign of nerves? Magnus' c-pawn topples over as he plays his first move | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Definitely a surprise! After getting nothing with White in Game 1 Magnus shows some prep with Black. Curiouser and curiouser...

2. d4 d5 3. ♘c3 Vishy always seemed to prefer this natural move to the committal 3. e5.

3... dxe4 4. ♘xe4 ♗f5 5. ♘g3 ♗g6 6. h4 h6 7. ♘f3 e6 Not the main move, but in fact Magnus is following Anand-Ding Liren from a couple of months ago. If Vishy had expected the Caro-Kann at all this would have been a dangerous experiment...

8. ♘e5 ♗h7 9. ♗d3 ♗xd3 10. ♕xd3 ♘d7 11. f4 ♗b4+ 12. c3 ♗e7 13. ♗d2 ♘gf6 14. 0-0-0 And in fact Vishy is the first to deviate!

14. ♕e2 brought him success recently, and one wonders what Magnus prepared here. 14... 0-0 might be ok for Black. (14... c5 15. dxc5 ♕c7 16. b4 0-0 17. 0-0 a5 18. a3 1-0 (32) Anand, V (2783)-Ding,L (2707) Paris/St Petersburg 2013) 15. f5 ♗d6 16. fxe6 fxe6 17. 0-0-0 ♕c7 18. ♖he1 c5 looks messy.

14... 0-0 15. ♘e4 Clearly not the most aggressive approach... It seems Vishy isn't willing to take many risks at the beginning of the match. Kb1 or Qf3!? look far more critical.

Anand: "I thought a lot about moves 13, 14 and 15 - I was trying to recollect all the sharp variations and trying to guess what he might be aiming for. That's how I decided to play 15.Ne4." | photo: JM Mahesh

15. ♔b1 c5 16. ♗e3 ♕c7 17. ♘e4 ♘xe4 (17... ♖ad8 18. ♘xf6+ ♗xf6 19. ♕e4 ) 18. ♕xe4 ♘xe5 19. fxe5 (19. dxe5 ♖fd8 0-1 (48) Inarkiev,E (2693)-Eljanov,P (2702) Poikovsky 2013 20. h5 ) 19... cxd4 20. ♗xd4 ♖ad8 21. g4 ♗c5

15. ♕f3

a) 15... ♕c7 16. ♔b1 (16. c4 ♖ac8 17. ♖he1 0-1 (32) Roiz,M (2512) - Erenburg,S (2494) Tel Aviv 2002) 16... c5 (16... ♖ad8 17. ♖he1 c5 18. f5 ) 17. ♘xd7 ♕xd7 18. dxc5 ♗xc5 19. f5+/=

b) 15... ♕a5 16. ♔b1 ♖ad8 17. ♖he1

c) 15... c5 Probably the best move.

c1) 16. dxc5 ♗xc5 17. ♖he1 ♖c8 (17... ♕c7 18. ♘xd7 ♕xd7 19. f5 ♕a4 ) 18. ♔b1 ♕c7 19. ♘xd7 ♕xd7 20. f5 ♕c6 21. fxe6 ♕xf3 22. exf7+ ♖xf7 23. gxf3 ♗f2!

c2) 16. ♕xb7? only brings sorrow. 16... ♖b8 17. ♕xa7 (17. ♕a6 cxd4 18. ♘c6 ♖b6 ) 17... ♕c8!

c3) 16. ♗e3! White exerts some pressure and Black has to tread very carefully.

c31) 16... ♕a5 17. ♔b1 ♖ad8 18. ♘xd7 ♖xd7 (18... ♘xd7 19. d5+/= ) 19. dxc5 ♖xd1+ 20. ♖xd1 ♗xc5 21. ♗xc5 ♕xc5 22. ♕xb7 ♕f2 23. ♕f3+/=

c32) 16... ♕c7 17. ♘xd7 ♘xd7 18. d5 (18. ♘e4 ) 18... ♘f6 19. dxe6 fxe6 20. ♔b1 ♖ad8 21. ♗c1 feels better for White, plain and simple.

15... ♘xe4 16. ♕xe4 ♘xe5 Simple chess. Alternatives were risky for Black.

16... f5 17. ♕e2 ♘xe5 18. dxe5+/= (18. ♕xe5 ♕d5 )

16... ♘f6 17. ♕e2 ♕d5 18. g4 ♕xa2 19. g5+−

17. fxe5 ♕d5 18. ♕xd5 Essentially a draw offer, but after

18. ♕g4 f5 19. ♕g6 ♕xa2 20. ♗xh6 ♖f7 I really don't see why White should be better at all; in fact Black's play with b5-b4 could get dangerous.

a) 21. g4 f4 , or even (21... fxg4 22. ♖hf1 ♖af8 )

b) 21. ♗g5 Black has enough play here as well. 21... b5 (21... ♖af8 22. h5 b5 23. h6 b4 Amazingly enough, White doesn't seem to have any threats even here... What happened to chess? 30 years ago it would have been checkmate :)) 22. d5 ♕a1+ 23. ♔c2 ♕a4+ 24. ♔b1 cxd5 25. ♕xe6 ♕e4+ 26. ♔c1 ♖e8

18... cxd5 19. h5 b5 20. ♖h3 a5 21. ♖f1 ♖ac8 22. ♖g3 ♔h7 23. ♖gf3 ♔g8 24. ♖g3 ♔h7 25. ♖gf3 ♔g8 A comfortable draw for Magnus, but it really was a risky opening experiment. 15. Qf3!? seems to pose problems, but Vishy doesn't look ready for a sharp fight just yet... Let's see what the future brings :)


The reaction of chess fans to a second short draw at the start of the match was predictable:

Of course every cloud has a silver lining, as another top Indian grandmaster pointed out:

So far Anand's stare is in fine form! | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

The press conference was mildly perplexing as Anand and Carlsen appeared to think a possible continuation to the game (18.Qg4 f5 19.Qg6) - suggested by both Rustam above and powerful computers - was bad for Black, but perhaps the most "memorable" moment was when the players were asked if they were going to watch the Arsenal - Manchester United football game that evening. Anand was but wasn't sure if he'd switch off his computers during it, while Carlsen replied in the off-hand manner we've become accustomed to from the young star.

Yeah, sure, now that you mention it.

Let's hope that after tomorrow's first rest day the players return in the mood for a real fight!

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