Reports Nov 16, 2013 | 8:30 PMby Colin McGourty

Anand-Carlsen, Game 6: A heavy blow

Vishy Anand's hopes of retaining his World Championship title are hanging by a thread after he lost a second game in succession in Chennai. It was déjà vu, as the players again reached an innocuous position early in the game only for Vishy to start to slip and Magnus Carlsen to begin to work his magic. In exclusive analysis for chess24 Rustam Kasimdzhanov pinpoints where he thinks the World Champion went wrong.

Carlsen walks onto stage with a spring in his step | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich

Anand is no stranger to falling behind in World Championship matches. He lost the first game against Veselin Topalov in Sofia in 2010 and Game 7 against Boris Gelfand last year in Moscow. On both those occasions, however, he bounced back straightaway to win the next game. 

For a brief moment on a rainy Saturday in Chennai it seemed pulling off the same feat might again be a possibility. Soon afterwards, however, Anand was playing for nothing more than a draw. As late as move 51 GM Evgeny Gleizerov wrote in his live commentary at ChessPro, "No, neither Carlsen nor even God himself will manage to squeeze water out of this particular stone," but when it rains it pours...

Rustam Kasimdzhamov looks at where it all went wrong:

A lot of unusual things happened in this game. We should remember that Vishy lost the previous game in quite a painful manner...

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♗b5 ♘f6 The dreaded Berlin... Before Chennai, if I'm not mistaken, it hadn't been played in a World Championship match since London 2000!!

4. d3 A better chance to fight for an edge against Magnus; the main line brought Vishy only trouble in Game 4 (though he did save that game, to be fair...).

4... ♗c5 5. c3 0-0 6. 0-0 ♖e8 7. ♖e1 a6 8. ♗a4 b5 9. ♗b3 d6 10. ♗g5 I'm not a specialist in this line, but I've played enough Bc5s in my life to know how unpleasant this pin can be...

10... ♗e6 11. ♘bd2 h6 12. ♗h4 ♗xb3 13. axb3 And in fact White's slow approach has been quite successful! The pin is unpleasant, and the a6-pawn is something of a liability.

13... ♘b8 14. h3? A question mark might be harsh, but in fact it's moves like this that lose World Championship matches. White had at least two promising options:

14. b4 ♗b6 15. ♗xf6 ♕xf6 16. ♖a3+/=

14. d4 ♗b6 15. ♘f1 looks like a decent shot to fight for the initiative:

a) 15... exd4 16. cxd4 g5 17. ♘xg5 hxg5 (17... ♘xe4 18. ♘xe4 ♕xh4 19. ♘f6+ ) 18. ♗xg5 ♘bd7 19. ♘g3=/∞

b) 15... ♘bd7 16. ♘g3 ♕e7 (16... ♕b8 17. ♘f5 ♕b7 18. d5+/= ) 17. ♘f5 ♕f8 18. ♕c2

14... ♘bd7 15. ♘h2 ♕e7 16. ♘df1 ♗b6 Now it's just equal, and very sterile...

17. ♘e3 ♕e6 18. b4 a5 19. bxa5 ♗xa5 20. ♘hg4 ♗b6 21. ♗xf6 ♘xf6 22. ♘xf6+ ♕xf6 23. ♕g4 Clearly this doesn't lose, but it makes very little sense. After the normal

23. ♕e2 c6 24. g3= even Magnus might be at a loss as to how to create winning chances :)

23... ♗xe3! 24. fxe3 ♕e7 One of the things I've learned from bitter experience is that e4 and e3-pawns are always weak... don't believe your books that tell you these pawns control central squares - they're just a wound in the heart of White's position.

25. ♖f1 c5 26. ♔h2 c4! Very direct play.

27. d4 ♖xa1 28. ♖xa1 ♕b7 29. ♖d1 Despite the previous inaccuracies, after

29. d5 White should still be pretty safe: 29... g6 (29... ♖f8 30. h4 b4 31. h5 bxc3 32. bxc3 ♕b2 33. ♖a6 ♕xc3 34. ♖xd6 ♕xe3 35. ♖c6 ) 30. ♕h4 ♔g7 31. ♖f1=

29... ♕c6 30. ♕f5 exd4 31. ♖xd4 ♖e5=/+ It might not be much, but at least it's clear that Black can play this forever...

32. ♕f3 ♕c7 33. ♔h1 ♕e7 34. ♕g4 ♔h7 35. ♕f4 g6 36. ♔h2 ♔g7 Good technique - no need to rush.

37. ♕f3 ♖e6 38. ♕g3 Hmm, not sure if this deserves criticism. Black had plans of playing h5-h4, Rf6, Qe5... I can understand Vishy getting impatient.

38... ♖xe4 39. ♕xd6 ♖xe3 Remember what I said about those pawns?

40. ♕xe7 ♖xe7 41. ♖d5 ♖b7 The game should still be drawn, but not easily. Vishy does quite well, in the beginning...

42. ♖d6 f6 Not really sure about this move - I'd play Kf8 in a heartbeat :)

43. h4 ♔f7 44. h5 Interesting play, which should have led to a confident draw.

44... gxh5 45. ♖d5 ♔g6 46. ♔g3 Black can't make much progress and has to shed some material to go on...

46... ♖b6 47. ♖c5 f5 48. ♔h4 ♖e6 49. ♖xb5 ♖e4+ 50. ♔h3 ♔g5 51. ♖b8 Not a mistake as such, but somehow lacking a clear direction... White needs to liquidate on the queenside -

51. b3 ♖e3+ 52. ♔h2 ♖xc3 53. bxc4 ♖xc4 Two pawns down, but this must be a dead draw - even simpler than the f and h-pawn rook ending.

51. ♔h2 h4 52. b3 cxb3 53. ♖xb3 ♖e3 54. ♖a3 And here Black can't even get that, and has no winning chances.

51... h4 52. ♖g8+ ♔h5 53. ♖f8 ♖f4 54. ♖c8 ♖g4 55. ♖f8 ♖g3+ 56. ♔h2 ♔g5! 57. ♖g8+ ♔f4 58. ♖c8 ♔e3! 59. ♖xc4 f4 Great play that must have unsettled Vishy just when he thought the game had been saved... Now White has a very difficult task indeed, and on move 60 Anand falters -

60. ♖a4? A losing move - the queenside pawns Vishy was reluctant to exchange now come back to haunt him, giving Black perfect cover from all the side checks.

60. b4! h3 61. gxh3 ♖g5 62. ♖c6! A difficult move - White will need this pawn on h6! (62. ♖c8 f3 63. ♖e8+ ♔f2 ) 62... f3 63. ♖e6+ ♔f2 64. c4 ♖g2+ 65. ♔h1 ♖g1+ 66. ♔h2 ♖e1 67. ♖xh6! and White survives: 67... ♔e2 68. ♖e6+ ♔f1 69. ♖f6 f2 70. ♔g3 ♖e3+ 71. ♔g4 ♔g2 72. ♖xf2+ ♔xf2 73. c5 ♖e4+ 74. ♔g5 ♖xb4 75. h4 , with a simple draw.

60... h3! 61. gxh3 ♖g6 And now it's all over...

62. c4 f3 63. ♖a3+ ♔e2 64. b4 f2 65. ♖a2+ ♔f3 66. ♖a3+ ♔f4 67. ♖a8 ♖g1 Black wins here by quite some margin. There are many ways to lose a game of chess - sometimes one bad move is enough, but more often than not it takes many small mistakes... This will be a tough blow to come back from.


While Anand had obviously made mistakes no-one could deny Carlsen's endgame mastery:

In the press conference both players felt 57.Rc8 rather than 57.Rg8+ (pushing the king where it wanted to go anyway) would have been a simple draw. Magnus explained he was grateful after that for his opponent falling for his "one little trap" with Kf4 and Ke3, and felt it might have been impossible to hold. When the tournament press officer Anastasiya Karlovich suggested the drawing 60.b4! he dismissed it instantly as "way too slow". 

Carlsen summed up:

Today I got a pretty solid position early on but I thought I should also try to capitalise on the win yesterday and press him a little bit today, because there wasn’t really much to risk. Fortunately I got a little bit lucky and I won again. Obviously I’m in a good mood now. I’ve won two games and with six games to go that’s obviously a healthy lead. 

Anand was visibly shell-shocked and the press conference turned into an ordeal.

Anand: "Today's a heavy blow - I won't pretend otherwise - but there's nothing to be done, you just go on" | photo: JM Mahesh

It's perhaps worth recording the tongue-in-cheek advice for journalists given by current Indian no. 3 Parimarjan Negi in his fantastic blog:

But don’t worry, to help the press guys, I compiled a few questions you may want to avoid:

  1. A long monologue which makes the guys ask, What was the question?
  2. Do you see any difference between the beaches here and in Norway?
  3. Does Vishy/Magnus ever come in your dreams?
  4. Are you happy with today’s game? (Asking the guy who has just lost)
  5. Are you going to repeat this opening next time?
  6. Did Garry Kasparov……? (he’s already gone guys)

If you can think of any more of these bloopers, please add them below so our friends can be warned  

Today the journalists seemed determined to add to the list themselves. First an Indian asked Anand for his thoughts on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, whose impending retirement was the top story in the Indian press. Vishy remained patient:

I’ve sort of been following what he’s been doing, but let’s say I’ve had other things on my mind

Then a Norwegian journalist wasn't satisfied with Anand responding, "you just do your best," to a question on how he would deal with the blow he'd suffered. His surreal follow-up question finally pushed Vishy over the edge:

Journalist: I’m still wondering if Mr Anand can elaborate what he means by “doing your best”…

Anand: Doing your best means doing your best – I don’t know why you don’t understand English.

Vishy will need to gather his strength on tomorrow's rest day if he's going to stage an unlikely recovery. Otherwise we might be witnessing generational change in chess. As one fan put it:

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