Reports Nov 13, 2013 | 10:00 PMby Colin McGourty

Anand-Carlsen, Game 4: Fighting human chess

A tremendous last-ditch effort saw World Champion Vishy Anand hold on for a draw in the best game of the match so far. Although Magnus Carlsen will be disappointed not to have driven home the advantage he gained by snatching a pawn in the opening he can draw confidence from managing to torture his opponent for six hours - something GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov describes in his analysis for chess24 as, "the secret of Carlsen's phenomenal results". 

Psychological warfare? | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

The players remain locked at 2:2, but in the last two games the match has exploded into life. Although it's traditionally seen as an advantage to have the white pieces and move first Black has so far been in control in each game. An explanation for that paradox was given by Boris Gelfand while commenting on Game 4 for ChessTV. He pointed out, "it's much easier to prepare for Black", as the second player can choose the direction play takes. 

That still leaves the mystery of why the World Champion seemed surprised by a sequence of moves played more than once in the past by Magnus Carlsen's only confirmed second, Jon Ludvig Hammer. chess24's Rustam Kasimdzhanov was also extremely puzzled by the early stages of today's game:

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♗b5 ♘f6! The Berlin - the opening that stopped Kasparov - comes back to haunt Vishy as well. I'm curious what he prepared here...

4. 0-0 ♘xe4 5. d4 ♘d6 6. ♗xc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 ♘f5 8. ♕xd8+ ♔xd8 9. h3 ♗d7 10. ♖d1 ♗e7 11. ♘c3 ♔c8 12. ♗g5 h6 13. ♗xe7 ♘xe7 14. ♖d2 c5 15. ♖ad1 ♗e6 Both sides have made standard moves and I already like Black a bit more, as I'm sure Vishy did as well. So what did he prepare against the Berlin? And is it clever to exchange queens against Magnus in the opening? Or was the Berlin as much of a surprise as the Caro-Kann in Game 2? The Berlin? A surprise?

16. ♘e1 ♘g6 17. ♘d3 Bringing the knight to d3 is a slightly strange manoeuvre. White is already experiencing problems - e5 is very weak and the cluster of white pieces in the centre isn't really harmonious...

17... b6 18. ♘e2

18. b3 c4 19. bxc4 ♗xc4=/+ might be very risky in the long run - White has a broken structure and nothing to show for it.

18... ♗xa2!

Bobby Fischer famously lost the first game of his World Championship match against Boris Spassky after making what looked like a beginner's mistake

Why not, indeed! It does look a lot like Fischer's Bxh2, with one major difference - Bxh2 lost a piece, Bxa2 wins a pawn :)

19. b3 c4! 20. ♘dc1 cxb3 21. cxb3 ♗b1 The bishop escapes, but White gets some time to generate counterplay. Objectively White's chances should be minimal, but the temporary initiative is on his side. Black needs to be very precise, and that's not easy even for Magnus...

22. f4 ♔b7 23. ♘c3 ♗f5 24. g4 ♗c8 25. ♘d3 h5! 26. f5 ♘e7 27. ♘b5

27. ♖c1 may be a better move, keeping the option of going to b5 or somewhere else...

27... hxg4

27... a6! avoids complications, but we'll see that Magnus had a different idea. 28. ♘d4 hxg4 29. hxg4 a5 transposes to a line we'll see later.

28. hxg4

28. ♖c1 was a very interesting way to fight for the initiative. Black is still better, but it's very, very complex... 28... ♘d5 29. e6 fxe6 30. ♘e5! a5! (30... a6 31. ♖xc7+ shows the possible dangers - and a checkmate of rare beauty: 31... ♘xc7 32. ♘d6+ ♔b8 33. ♘c6# ) 31. hxg4 c5 32. ♘f7 ♖f8 33. ♖e1 ♔c6!=/+

28... ♖h4

28... a6 29. ♘d4 a5 was maybe cleaner: 30. ♔f2 a4 31. bxa4 ♖xa4 32. ♘f4 c5 33. e6 ♖xd4 34. ♖xd4 cxd4 35. exf7 ♖f8 36. ♘e6 ♗xe6 37. fxe6 ♘d5 38. ♖xd4 ♘c7

29. ♘f2 ♘c6 30. ♖c2 a5 31. ♖c4 Now it's no longer easy to make progress. Black has options, but they entail running some risks...

31... g6

31... ♗xf5 32. ♖xc6 ♔xc6 33. ♘d4+ ♔b7 34. ♘xf5 ♖hh8 35. ♘xg7 b5 looks interesting, but needless to say it's not very clear.

32. ♖dc1 ♗d7 33. e6 fxe6 34. fxe6

34. fxg6? ♖g8

34... ♗e8 35. ♘e4! Vishy puts up a very spirited defense! With a fine disregard for further material losses he fights for the initiative - and Magnus falters!

35. ♔g2 ♖h7 36. ♘e4 ♖e7

35... ♖xg4+ 36. ♔f2 ♖f4+? This lets the win slip. Black had the really cool

36... ♖d8 at his disposal, and suddenly it turns out that the g4-rook is taboo - 37. ♔e3 (37. ♘ed6+? cxd6 38. ♖xg4 ♘e5−+ ; 37. ♘c5+? bxc5 38. ♖xg4 ♘e5−+ ) 37... ♖d5! 38. ♘bc3 ♖e5 39. ♔f3 ♖gxe4! 40. ♖xe4 ♖xe6! 41. ♖xe6 ♘d4+ 42. ♔e3 ♘xe6 , and Black should win this. Needless to say, something like this is pretty difficult to pull off - even for Magnus. But what a gem of a game it would have been :)

37. ♔e3 ♖f8

37... g5 38. ♖g1

38. ♘d4 ♘xd4 39. ♖xc7+ ♔a6 40. ♔xd4 Now it's a draw.

40... ♖d8+ 41. ♔c3

41. ♔e3 ♖d5 42. ♖g7=

41... ♖f3+ 42. ♔b2 ♖e3 43. ♖c8 Most 2 vs 1 endings with rooks are drawn - don't let your computer fool you! There was one more interesting moment in this game.

43... ♖dd3 44. ♖a8+ ♔b7 45. ♖xe8 ♖xe4 46. e7 ♖g3 47. ♖c3 ♖e2+ 48. ♖c2 ♖ee3 49. ♔a2 g5 50. ♖d2 ♖e5 51. ♖d7+ ♔c6 52. ♖ed8 ♖ge3 53. ♖d6+ ♔b7 54. ♖8d7+ ♔a6 55. ♖d5 ♖e2+ 56. ♔a3 ♖e6! And here it is - the secret of Carlsen's phenomenal results!! A drawn position after almost six hours of play, and still he finds some nasty tricks!

57. ♖d8! With hardly any time left Vishy became visibly nervous, but he pulled himself together and found salvation!

57. ♖xg5 b5 is suddenly checkmate!

57... g4 58. ♖g5 ♖xe7 59. ♖a8+ ♔b7 60. ♖ag8 a4 61. ♖xg4 axb3 62. ♖8g7 ♔a6 63. ♖xe7 ♖xe7 64. ♔xb3 A great game and a tremendous defensive effort from Vishy. On the bright side for Magnus, however, after a shaky start to the match and a bad position in Game 3, this may finally give him the confidence he needs. We'll just have to wait and see what the upcoming games bring...

1/2-1/2

Anand: "Something went horribly wrong in the opening..." | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

In the post-game press conference Anand was obviously both annoyed with himself and very relieved:

Something went horribly wrong in the opening. I made one illogical move after the next and then I just missed something with 18.Ne2 - and suddenly I’m basically lost... I didn't really miss [18...Bxa2] but somehow I’d been drifting already and if I don’t play Ne2 it’s not clear what I’m doing.

Carlsen indulged in some sarcasm when asked if he was happy to have played a long game: "Yeah, I’m very happy that it was a long game – I had an advantage and I didn’t manage to win – that’s really a thrill" | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Carlsen was disappointed but admitted his opponent "kept finding very good resources". He felt his decision to play on was fully justified by a problem he managed to pose on the 56th move.


Anand agreed:

I really checked everything and thought I’d done it, and then he found 56...Re6 and the point is that after Rxg5, b5 wins. I had a minute left at this point, so again I was lucky that I could play Ra8+, Rag8 and get to the time control. For Grischuk it’s just another day, but for me it’s not every day I get to under a minute. 

It seems no press conference is complete without a moment of controversy, and once again it was provided by former World Champion Garry Kasparov. 

Kasparov spotted in one of the hotel restaurants | photo: Eric van Reem


A Norwegian journalist twice asked Anand why his team had apparently asked for Kasparov not to sit in the front row of spectators. Anand said he knew nothing about it (it's easy to imagine his team might have asked without telling him), and even Carlsen felt the constant questions about Kasparov had gone too far: 

I think today the game itself had plenty of content so let’s stick to that rather than talking about Garry

On Twitter Kasparov himself didn't disagree:



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