Opinion Nov 12, 2014 | 10:26 AMby Colin McGourty

Tkachiev on Carlsen-Anand, Game 2

Vlad Tkachiev continues his alternative look at the World Championship match in Sochi by describing how Magnus Carlsen’s moves to build up an attack in the second game reminded him of the motion of the Prague Astronomical Clock, with the queen playing the role of the skeletal figure of Death. Tkachiev also talks about pattern recognition in chess in general and how previous games influence our play.

41-year-old Tkachiev was born in Russia, grew up in Kazakhstan and now represents France — at the 2014 Olympiad the once world Top 25 player scored 3 wins and 3 draws for a 2679 rating performance | photo: Georgios Souleidis

Before getting to Game 2 it’s worth briefly revising Vlad’s account of Game 1. He opened by explaining how the 9th November — the day Mikhail Tal was born and Garry Kasparov won the World Championship title (and the Berlin Wall fell…) — has always been special for him. What he neglected to mention was that it’s also his birthday! You may wish to reread the article 

So then, this is the fourth post in Vlad’s new blog ChEsSay, translated with permission from the Russian original.

The Prague Astronomical Clock

(Impressions evoked by the second game of the Carlsen — Anand match)

What does chess develop first and foremost: logic, calculation, creative faculties as a whole or at least perseverance in particular? Clearly none of the above, since opposite-coloured bishop endgames occur in your practice only once every few years, or even less, and calculating with great intensity is required in far from every game. The majority of us wouldn’t have the heart to describe our play as creative, while TV series or computer games keep us rooted to our seats far more reliably. For me, for example, it’s easier to think on the move. Then what?

It’s long since been established that chess develops above all image recognition. Whether consciously or not, we review images we’ve seen, passing them through our personal internal pattern engine. I’m not hinting at our silicon friends by accident: it was precisely pattern recognition — used as a lever by Turing and Botvinnik, that laid the foundations of cybernetics and artificial intelligence. And now us chess players are ahead of the whole planet when it comes to using computer engines as our supreme authority 64 times a day. When will the rest of humanity get the chance to consult a program: where did I go wrong with my girlfriend? Or: what exactly did I blurt out wrongly in the pub yesterday to wake up bruised after a rough weekend? For us, everything’s much simpler, and everyone knows how strong 42…Re3 was in the first, or 20.Bh6 in the second game of the Carlsen-Anand match. I got a little distracted, but we’ll soon get back to the game.

So then, pattern recognition — every well-known game and the concept applied within it inevitably has one or another prototype behind it:

12. f5 b6 13. ♗f4 ♗b7 14. ♗xd6 cxd6 15. ♘d4 ♖ad8 16. ♘e6 ♖d7 17. ♖ad1 ♘c8 18. ♖f2 b5 19. ♖fd2 ♖de7 20. b4 ♔f7 21. a3 ♗a8 22. ♔f2 ♖a7 23. g4 h6 24. ♖d3 a5 25. h4 axb4 26. axb4 ♖ae7 27. ♔f3 ♖g8 28. ♔f4 g6 29. ♖g3 g5+ 30. ♔f3 ♘b6 31. hxg5 hxg5 32. ♖h3 ♖d7 33. ♔g3 ♔e8 34. ♖dh1 ♗b7 35. e5 dxe5 36. ♘e4 ♘d5 37. ♘6c5 ♗c8 38. ♘xd7 ♗xd7 39. ♖h7 ♖f8 40. ♖a1 ♔d8 41. ♖a8+ ♗c8 42. ♘c5


14. f5 ♕e7 15. ♗f4 ♗xf4 16. ♖xf4 ♗d7 17. ♖e1 ♕c5 18. c3 ♖ae8 19. g4 ♕d6 20. ♕g3 ♖e7 21. ♘f3 c5 22. e5 fxe5 23. ♖fe4 ♗c6 24. ♖xe5 ♖fe8 25. ♖xe7 ♖xe7 26. ♘e5 h6 27. h4 ♗d7 28. ♕f4 ♕f6 29. ♖e2 ♗c8 30. ♕c4+ ♔h7 31. ♘g6 ♖xe2 32. ♕xe2 ♗d7 33. ♕e7 ♕xe7 34. ♘xe7 g5 35. hxg5 hxg5 36. ♘d5 ♗c6 37. ♘xc7 ♗f3 38. ♘e8 ♔h6 39. ♘f6 ♔g7 40. ♔f2 ♗d1 41. ♘d7 c4 42. ♔g3


1. e4 e5 2. ♘c3 ♗c5 3. ♘f3 d6 4. ♘a4 ♗b6 5. ♘xb6 axb6 6. d4 exd4 7. ♕xd4 ♕f6 8. ♗g5 ♕xd4 9. ♘xd4 ♗d7 10. ♗c4 ♘e7 11. O-O ♘g6 12. a3 O-O 13. ♖ad1 ♘c6 14. ♘xc6 bxc6 15. ♗d2 ♖a4 16. ♗d3 ♘e5 17. ♗c3 f6 18. f3 ♖e8 19. ♖f2 ♗c8 20. ♗f1 ♗a6 21. ♗xa6 ♖xa6 22. ♗xe5 fxe5 23. ♖d3 b5 24. ♖fd2 c5 25. ♔f2 ♖a4 26. ♔e3 ♔f7 27. ♖d1 ♔e6 28. ♔d2 ♖b8 29. ♖c3 g5 30. h3 h5 31. ♖h1 ♖d4+ 32. ♔e2 ♖g8 33. ♖d3 ♖a4 34. ♖hd1 g4 35. hxg4 hxg4 36. ♔e3 ♖h8 37. ♖b3 ♖h2 38. ♖d2 ♖d4 39. ♖e2 c6 40. ♖c3 g3 41. ♖d3 ♖h1 42. f4 ♖f1 43. f5+ ♔f6 44. c3 ♖xd3+ 45. ♔xd3 d5 46. b3 c4+ 47. bxc4 bxc4+ 48. ♔e3 ♖a1 49. ♔f3 ♖xa3 50. ♔xg3 ♖xc3+ 51. ♔h4 ♖c1 52. g4 ♖h1+ 53. ♔g3 d4 54. ♖a2 d3 55. ♔g2 ♖e1 56. ♔f2 ♖xe4


1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. d4 exd4 4. ♘xd4 ♗c5 5. ♘xc6 ♕f6 6. ♕f3 bxc6 7. ♕g3 d6 8. ♘c3 ♕g6 9. ♗d3 ♘f6 10. ♘a4 ♗d4 11. c3 ♗b6 12. O-O ♕xg3 13. hxg3 ♘g4 14. ♗f4 f6 15. ♖ad1 h5 16. ♗e2 ♗e6 17. ♘xb6 axb6 18. a3 ♔e7 19. f3 ♘e5 20. ♔f2 b5 21. ♗xe5 fxe5 22. ♔e3 h4 23. gxh4 ♖xh4 24. ♖h1 ♖ah8 25. ♖xh4 ♖xh4 26. ♖c1 ♖h2 27. ♔f2 ♖h8 28. ♔e3 g5 29. ♗d3 ♔d7 30. ♖a1 ♗b3 31. ♖c1 ♔c8 32. ♔f2 ♔b7 33. ♔g3 ♗e6 34. ♖a1 ♔b6 35. ♖c1 c5 36. ♖a1 c4 37. ♗c2 ♔c5 38. ♖e1 c6 39. ♗b1 ♔b6 40. ♗c2 ♔c7 41. ♔f2 ♔d7 42. a4 bxa4 43. ♖a1 ♖b8 44. ♖a2 d5 45. exd5 cxd5 46. ♗xa4+ ♔d6 47. ♗c2 d4 48. ♗e4 ♖b6 49. ♔e2 g4 50. fxg4 ♗xg4+ 51. ♔d2 ♗e6 52. ♔c2 ♗d5 53. ♗xd5 d3+ 54. ♔d2 ♔xd5 55. ♔e3 ♖g6 56. ♖a5+ ♔e6 57. ♔e4 ♖g4+ 58. ♔f3 ♖f4+ 59. ♔e3 ♖f1   


Inspiration? | photo: sochi2014.fide.com

The difference between outstanding players and the rest consists in an ability to single out the necessary image from the huge quantity of those potentially available and then manage to reproduce it on the board, despite fierce resistance from your opponent. When that works out you feel a rare sense of harmony. For me that occurred while watching the 2nd game of the Carlsen-Anand match from moves 10 to 20.

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♗b5 ♘f6 4. d3 ♗c5 5. O-O d6 6. ♖e1 O-O 7. ♗xc6 bxc6 8. h3 ♖e8 9. ♘bd2 ♘d7 10. ♘c4 ♗b6 11. a4 a5 12. ♘xb6 cxb6 13. d4 ♕c7 14. ♖a3 ♘f8 15. dxe5 dxe5 16. ♘h4 ♖d8 17. ♕h5 f6 18. ♘f5 ♗e6 19. ♖g3 ♘g6 20. h4 ♗xf5 21. exf5 ♘f4 22. ♗xf4 exf4 23. ♖c3 c5 24. ♖e6 ♖ab8 25. ♖c4 ♕d7 26. ♔h2 ♖f8 27. ♖ce4 ♖b7 28. ♕e2 b5 29. b3 bxa4 30. bxa4 ♖b4 31. ♖e7 ♕d6 32. ♕f3 ♖xe4 33. ♕xe4 f3+ 34. g3 h5 35. ♕b7


The sequence of pieces and pawns shifting a square or two: 10.Nc4, 11.a4, 12.Nxb6, 13.d4, 14.Ra3, 15.dxe5, 16. Nh4, 18.Nf5, 20.h4, combined with sudden sweeps along the whole length of diagonals: 17.Qh5 and ranks: 19.Rg3, brought to mind the image of the Prague Astronomical Clock… 

The play develops first on the queenside, then soon in the centre, and then it suddenly switches to the kingside — just like the figures of the apostles before the eyes of the stunned public. The queen going to h5, meanwhile, performs the role of the skeletal emissary of Death. It’s no surprise it was precisely the move 35.Qb7 that brought the game to a close.

You say that’s a farfetched analogy because it’s taken from a totally different realm? Then here’s a much more probable source of Magnus’ inspiration:

13... ♘f4 14. ♘f3 ♘xg2 15. ♔xg2 a5 16. c4 ♖a6 17. d4 ♖g6+ 18. ♔h2 ♖f6 19. ♖e3 ♗d6+ 20. ♔g2 ♖g6+ 21. ♔f1 ♕xh3+ 22. ♔e2 ♖g2 23. ♗d2 ♗g3 24. ♗e1 ♗f4 25. d5 ♗xe3 26. ♔xe3 ♖e8+ 27. ♔d2 ♕h6+ 28. ♔d3 ♗c8 29. ♘d4 ♕g6+ 30. ♔d2 ♕g5+ 31. ♔d3 ♗f5+ 32. ♘xf5 ♕xf5+ 33. ♔d2 ♖xf2+


13... ♘f6 14. ♖e1 ♖ae8 15. ♘f3 ♗d6 16. ♗e3 ♖e7 17. d4 ♖fe8 18. c3 h6 19. ♘e5 ♗xe5 20. dxe5 ♖xe5 21. ♕xd7 ♘xd7 22. ♖ed1 ♘f6 23. c4 c6 24. ♖ac1 ♖5e7 25. a4 bxc4 26. ♗xc4 ♘d5 27. ♗c5 ♖e4 28. f3 ♖4e5 29. ♔f2 ♗c8 30. ♗f1 ♖5e6 31. ♖d3 ♘f4 32. ♖b3 ♖d8 33. ♗e3 ♘d5 34. ♗d2 ♘f6 35. ♗a5 ♖de8 36. ♖b6 ♖e5 37. ♗c3 ♘d5 38. ♗xe5 ♘xb6 39. ♗d4 ♘xa4 40. ♖xc6 ♖d8 41. ♖c4 ♗d7 42. b3 ♗b5 43. ♖b4 ♘b2 44. ♗xb5 axb5 45. ♔e3 ♖e8+ 46. ♔d2 ♖d8 47. ♔c3


After the game Carlsen readily admitted the “opportunistic” nature of the attack he carried out to reach a won heavy-piece ending, although it seems 18…Qf7 would have held. After that he philosophically added: “You cannot win without mistakes in chess”. Well yes, harmony in music is always born from the combination of consonance and dissonance, while in chess —  it’s from the predominance of one player over another. Otherwise there’s a draw, nothing —  a result that according to Fischer should be abolished.

A child taking his or her first steps in chess aims in every game with the white pieces for the weak point on f7. 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4… until he gets disillusioned. The World Champion Magnus Carlsen on Sunday won after throwing everything he could at the neighbouring g7-point.

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me — Isaac Newton

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