Saturday, November 16, 2013

World Chess Championship, Game 6

Yesterday Magnus Carlsen, the 22-year-old wunderkind from Norway, used the white pieces to beat Viswanathan Anand, the defending World Champion, and take a 3-2 lead in the World Chess Championship in Chennai (Madras), India.  Today, Anand had the white pieces, and he looked to even the match.  But this time, Carlsen beat him with the black pieces, and he now leads 4-2.  Six games remain in the match, but Carlsen only needs 6 1/2 points to take the title, and he will be very difficult to beat now.

Here is what happened (Anand playing white):

1.  P-K4  P-K4
2.  N-KB3  N-QB3
3.  B-N5  N-B3
4.  P-Q3  B-B4

Black is playing the Berlin Defense against the Ruy Lopez opening.

5.  P-B3  O-O
6.  O-O  R-K1
7.  R-K1  P-QR3
8.  B-R4  P-QN4
9.  B-N3  P-Q3
10.  B-N5  B-K3

Anand's 10th move was an unusual play for white at that point, and pinned black's king's knight, but it caused black little trouble.

11.  QN-Q2  P-R3
12.  B-KR4  B x B
13.  P x B  N-N1
14.  P-R3  QN-Q2
15.  N-R2  Q-K2

At this point, Anand tried to get something going with his knights on the king's side, but it didn't work.

16.  QN-B1  B-N3
17.  N-K3  Q-K3
18.  P-QN4  P-QR4
19.  P x P  B x P
20.  KN-N4  B-N3
21.  B x N  N x B
22.  N x N  Q x N

At this point, white has lost one pawn, two bishops, and a knight.  Black has lost one pawn, one bishop, and two knights.  But black's pieces seem to control more territory.  One of the commentators thought that if Anand had played 23. Q-K2, thus strengthening white's defense, the game might have ended in a quick draw.  But of course, Anand is behind in the match -- he doesn't necessarily want a draw, especially as white.  So he presses ahead with the attack on the king's side, throwing his queen into battle.

23.  Q-N4  B x N
24.  P x B  Q-K2
25.  R-KB1  P-QB4

And white seemingly has nowhere to go.  He tries a king move.

26.  K-R2  P-B5
27.  P-Q4  R x R
28.  R x R  Q-N2

The rook exchange has pulled white's remaining rook to the side of the board, and now black has the initiative.

29.  R-Q1  Q-B3
30.  Q-B5  P x P
31.  R x P  R-K4
32.  Q-B3  Q-B2
33.  K-R1  Q-K2

At this point, each side had a rook, a queen, and six pawns.  But because black's men were better positioned, Carlsen could play for a victory without fear of losing.  Anand used his queen in an effort to regain the initiative.

34.  Q-N4  K-R2
35.  Q-B4  P-N3
36.  K-R2  K-N2
37.  Q-B3  R-K3
38.  Q-N3

This move, which effectively sacrificed one of white's pawns, was generally regarded as a blunder.

38.              R x P
39. Q x QP  R x P
40. Q x Q  R x Q
41.  R-Q5  R-N2
42.  R-Q6  P-B3

Watch the black pawn that just moved to KB3.  It will become very important.  At this point, Carlsen has a rook and five pawns.  Anand has a rook and four pawns.  There is an old chess saying that rook games are usually drawn, but Carlsen has shown a willingness to keep pressing the opponent in the chance that he will make a mistake.  Still, Anand pulled out difficult draws in Games Three and Four, and he settled in for a steady spell of defense.

43.  P-R4  K-B2
44.  P-R5  P x P

White is now two pawns down, but two of black's pawns are lined up in the king's rook file, making it difficult for his pawns to work together.  Most experts thought that from here, Anand should have been able to get a draw.

45.  R-Q5  K-N3
46.  K-N3  R-N3
47.  R-QB5  P-B4

That black pawn just moved again.

48.  K-R4  R-K3
49.  R x NP  R-K5ch

White gets a pawn back.

50.  K-R3  K-N4
51.  R-N8  P-R5

At this point, I woke up (the game had started at 3 A.M. Central Time), and started following the live feed.  The commentators seemed pretty confident that Anand had weathered the storm, and it was only a matter of time until a draw was reached.  I noticed that Anand had used almost 30 minutes more than Carlsen, and that he kept spending a lot of time over each move, while Carlsen was playing very quickly.

52.  R-N8ch  K-R4
53.  R-KB8  R-B5
54.  R-QB8  R-N5
55.  R-KB8  R-N6ch
56.  K-R2  K-N4
57.  R-N8ch  K-B5

White appears to have the initiative, as the white rook on the back row threatens various black pieces.  But notice that the white king is in the king's rook file, the black knight is in the king's knight file, and black has a pawn in the king's bishop file.  So if black can clear the king's knight file, his rook will be able to prevent white's king from getting at the pawn in the king's bishop file.

58.  R-QB8  K-K6

Black's king has now moved far down the board, and is in a good position to help the black pawn at KB4.

59.  R x P  P-B5

And the black pawn takes another step.  At this point, the computers said that white should move P-N4 -- there are no black pieces between this white pawn and the last row.  But instead, Anand makes one more move with his rook.

60.  R-R5  P-R6

At about this point, the computer -- which had been showing an even match -- suddenly showed black with an advantage.  It took a few more moves for the human commentators (at least the ones on my feed) to figure out that white was in trouble.  If anything, the game seemed to be moving in white's favor, as each side now has only three pawns.  But watch what happens now.

61.  P x P  R-N3

White now has three pawns to only two for black.  But by moving his king's knight's pawn, white has now left black's rook as the only piece on that file.  Thus, white's king (still on the king's rook file) cannot get to the black pawn at KB5.

62.  P-B4  P-B6 (that pawn moves again)
63.  R-R3ch  K-K7
64.  P-N4  P-B7 (now only one move from becoming a queen)
65.  R-R2ch  K-B6
66.  R-R3ch  K-B5
67.  R-R8  R-N8

At this point, white's position is hopeless.  His only move to stop black from queening is R-B8ch.  But black can eventually move his king to a place where white's rook cannot check him -- and the moment that happens, black's pawn will become a queen.  If white uses his rook to capture that queen, then black's rook will take white's rook.  So Anand resigned.

All in all, another strong performance for Carlsen, who kept probing and probing until Anand made a mistake in a game that appeared to be drawn.

Results after six games:

V. Anand (IND) 2 - 4 M. Carlsen (NOR)

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