Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen Game 1, Short and Sweet!!

Carlsen 2870 vs Anand 2775
World Championship 2013 Game 1.


After all the initial drama of press conference, revealing the seconds, not revealing the seconds, one of its kind of inaugration function, on 9th November 2013 at 3pm IST, the two gladiators sat across each other and the World Championships 2013 began! Anand looked his usual calm and composed self in his jet blue shirt, while Magnus like always looked quite dashing in his white coloured wear! It promised to be a superb inaugral game. 1. Nf3!?
The most flexible 1st move on the chess board for white!! 1.Nf3

Before the game, I had conducted a small survey, as to what Magnus would play as his first move. The amateurs were all very keen that Magnus would come all guns blazing with 1.e4 but the GMs and IMs whom I asked had a much sober oponion about Magnus's choice. They all felt he wont go into forcing lines and Magnus didnt disappoint, playing the Reti Opening which is considered as one of the most flexible openings in the game of chess. After the game in the press conference, Magnus did say he had some butterflies in his stomach! After all he too is human!
1... d5 Classical chess by Vishy Anand. He shows that he doesnt mind playing some line of the Queens gambit, most probably his reliable slav, after 2.d4. So a small point to note! Vishy is not giving up on Slav, an
opening which helped him win many a world championship matches! 2. g3 When I was young and playing my first tournament, my coach told me to play this way. To build a home and to castle quickly! It was so that I wouldn't falter in the game that was new to me! In some ways it is true for Magnus too. He is in a new situation and figures out that building a home for his king is a very safe and sound policy! g6 Is Anand contemplating on playing the Grunfeld Defense? Well he is mixing his openings pretty well! 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. d4 !? Magnus decides that his house building expedition can wait for the moment. He sees that he can convert into a symmetrical looking position and goes for it. After all nothing really bad can happen in a symmetrical position in which you are a tempo up! c6 Anand finally Clarifies the setup that he is aiming for.
The super solid Slav Grunfeld. As a White player who plays similar systems, I think this is one of the toughest systems to crack. And Anand makes a great decision to employ it in the 1st round of such a huge event. 5. O-O Nf6 6. b3!?
Double Fianchetto, no one can break such a solid setup adopted by Carlsen!

Extremely safe move by Magnus. He goes for a 2nd fianchetto! He has decided on a very harmonius deployment of pieces with Bb2 followed by Nbd2 and then c4. (6. c4 is definitely the most popular. But judging by Magnus's opening choice I am sure he was afraid of the pawn grab dxc4 7. Ne5 Ng4!?
Leads to some complex play in which White might not be able to recover his
pawn. Definitely not what Magnus's doctor had ordered.)
 6... O-O 7. Bb2 Bf5 !? Anand takes control of the e4 square and continues with his natural play. One
of the best things about the moves that Anand is making is that there is absolutely no pretence in them. He makes natural moves and deploys his pieces on the most active squares. 8. c4 Nbd7 !? Now this exclamation is definitely uncalled for, the reader might say! Yes its a very normal move and even a beginner might make it, but Anand learnt from his mistake that he had made in a similar position in Arctic Stars Final Rapid 2010. In that game Anand had developed his knight to the poor square on a6, and Magnus had drubbed him badly! This time the knight is more centrally oriented! (8... Na6 9. Nbd2 Ne4 The aforementioned Carlsen-Anand game in Arctic finals 2010, had a different move order but reached this position after 9 moves. And Carlsen played the nice little move 10. Nh4 ! when he could claim an edge in the
position.) 9. Nc3?! Though this move is popular, I dare to give it a dubious mark because it just doesnt seem coherent. Yes, first of all the knight blocks the bishop on b2 and more importantly it leaves the c4 pawn a
little loose. A fact that Anand makes use of in a perfect manner. (9. Nbd2 is the more logical move according to me and after Ne4 white can claim a small edge with 10. Nh4! Nxd2 11. Qxd2 Be6 12. cxd5 cxd5 13. Nf3 += White position just looks healthier.)

The game is going at Magnus's pace, Time to add some Vishy's pace into it! How would you speed up the play?

 9... dxc4! I venture to say that this was Anand's home preparation! Just 2 games have continued in this way and none of them by very good players! What exactly is Anand trying to achieve? He is speeding up the play. In the slow lines of Slav Grunfeld, he has suddenly added the concrete element whereby Carlsen no longer feels on home turf. Carlsen was most probably expecting a risk free edge which he loves to milk, but with this move Anand dispels all his hopes for quiet play. Is Magnus ready for the change in the character of play? (9... Ne4 was definitely what Magnus was looking forward to 10. cxd5 Nxc3 11. Bxc3 cxd5 12. Rc1 The position is quiet and white risks absolutely nothing.) 10. bxc4 Nb6!

With just two strong moves dc4 and Nb6, Anand really turned on the heat on Carlsen, turning his risk free edge into a double edged battle!

This is the correct follow up to the move dc4. The c4 pawn is attacked and how is Magnus going to defend it. It seemed as if Magnus had already started to feel a little uncomfortable. He had 2 options Qb3 and c5. He decided to go for the latter. 11. c5 (11. Qb3 After the game Anand said he intended to meet this move with Be6 12. d5 only move to save the c4 pawn. cxd5 13. cxd5 Nfxd5  when black is a pawn up and has a decent position.)
11... Nc4! Concrete play. The Bishop on b2 is attacked but the knight on c4 has entered into the
territory with no retreat. Infact blacks active pieces guarantee him that his knight on c4 wont be trapped.
12. Bc1 {This seemed very natural to me, and infact I felt this was the only move, but after the game Anand said that he was surprised to see Magnus making this move. He had expected Qb3. My logic was that if the b2 bishop is gone, the g7 bishop becomes really powerful, but maybe World Champions do think very different than normal chess players! (12.Qb3 Be6! intending, Nd2 or Ne3 (12... Nxb2 13. Qxb2 Rb8=is also possible.) 13. Qc2 b6! a powerful underming move which should not be underestimated. All of black pieces start getting activated. 14. cxb6 axb6=+ With a clear edge to black.)
What would be more logical according to you? Anand's choice of Nd5 or Commentators choice of e5.

12... Nd5!? (12... e5!? Lawrence Trent and Tania Sachdev in their live commentary were discussing this move. It seemed to me unnecessary complications but there seemed a definite logic to this move. The white pieces are unco-ordinate for this instant and it makes sense for black to strike right in the heart of the position! 13. Nxe5 (13. dxe5 Ng4 And black will recover the e5 pawn.) 13... Nxe5 14. dxe5 Nd7 (14... Qxd1 15. Rxd1 Nd7 16. f4 +=) 15. f4 Qa5 When black has an excellent position! I do really think that e5 was a move worth considering only because White had problems in his communication of pieces due to Bc1.)
13. Qb3 (13. Nxd5 cxd5 Though the variation of Qd5 has some wonderful tactical ideas in it. It is easy for Carlsen to refuse going for 13. Nd5 when he sees this position. Black has a wonderful knight on c4 and will later go for b6, when he will have an excellent position. (13... Qxd5! seemed incorrect to me during the game because of 14. Ne5 but black can play Qe6! 15. e4

Analysis board(B)
Tactics come to black's rescue. Can you find it?

Doesnt really work because of a nice tactic. Can you find it? Bxe4! (15... Nxe5? 16. exf5 +=) 16. Bxe4 Nxe5! 17. dxe5 Qxe5 with a nice double attack 18. Rb1 Qxe4 19. Rxb7 Bf6-/+When Black is a pawn up and has a wonderful position!) (13. Qe1 Carlsen after the game said he had intended this move but had missed blacks reply of Nb4! After which black has a pleasant position.) 13... Na5 (13... b5 was
one way to keep the game going. but maybe Anand didnt want to try too much today 14. cxb6 Na5 15. Qb2 axb6 16. e4! Nxc3 17. exf5 Bxd4 18. Nxd4 Qxd4 19. Be3 Black has an extra pawn but White has the two bishops and some very dangerous initiative.)
 14. Qa3 Nc4 (14... b6! =\+ was suggested by one of my students and I also tweeted it on twitter. It seems to me that after this move, black really has white under pressure. Blacks queenside initiative assumes menacing proportions because the rook file is opened up after cb6 ab6. Anand should have gone for this I guess because such a golden opportunity of playing a better position against Magnus after 14 moves in this championship with black pieces might not occur again.) 15. Qb3 (15. Qa4? Nxc3 16. Qxc4 Bxd4! gives black the better chances 17. Nxd4 Qxd4 -/+) 15... Na5 16. Qa3 secretly in my heart I still
hoped for the b6 move but from the live video I could see that Vishy was happy with a draw. He picked his knight off the rim to end the first game of the match!} Nc4 {The players shook their hands, analysed a few variations and convinced themselves that nothing really was going on in the position! It seemed as if both were happy with the outcome!
A peace treaty in 16 moves thanks to 3 fold repetition.

I think the following things have happened because of the draw.
1. The ease with which Vishy drew with
black, will give him a good night's sleep. 
2. Carlsen as a favourite : this stock has just taken a huge fall! 
3. Carlsen personally must be happy to the extent that in his first game in match play he didnt botch it up with a loss!
4. The spectators who spent 2000rs for the match must have felt a little sad! :) 
5. And last but not the least as Pentala Harikrishna (india no. 2) rightly tweeted, the seconds got only 1.5 hrs of sleep!!
 Lets look forward to game 2 of the Match when Vishy Anand will hold the white pieces! He is surely not
going to let Magnus off the hook as easily as Magnus did today!

To see the analysis of all the games, do not forget to download the World championship app if you are an android user.

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