Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Tiger of Madras: World Chess Championship 2014 Game 3

Starting from next year onwards, I will be posting fewer articles due to NS commitments. I do hope that our new admins will be able to take over the responsibility and keep this page alive. Compared to other CCA blogs which only broadcast announcements, ours is one of the few which provides training material to facilitate learning outside the classroom. It is an asset which we should all treasure and make full use of.

I'm sure many of us would be following WCC 2014 closely, so we all know what happened in Game 3: Anand levelled the score by defeating Carlsen for the first time in 4 years. Let's take a look at this historic game:

Anand, Viswanathan vs Carlsen, Magnus
World Chess Championship 2014 Round 3

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. Nf3 d5
4. Nc3 Be7
5. Bf4 O-O
6. e3 Nbd7
7. c5 c6
8. Bd3 b6
9. b4 a5
10. a3 (D)

Position after 10. a3

The players go for a line in the Queen's Gambit Declined, where White enjoys plenty of space on the Queenside.

10... Ba6

Black's previous moves were directed towards exchanging this bad bishop for White's good counterpart.

11. Bxa6 Rxa6

Now if Anand wanted to play safe, he could continue with something like 12. O-O. But here he was playing for a win, and thus lashed out with a bold move:

12. b5!?
12... cxb5
13. c6 Qc8

If 13... Nb8? then 14. c7 is crushing. Black has to exploit the pin on the c-file.

14. c7 (D)

Position after 14. c7

So much for a "solid" Queen's Gambit! White is a pawn down, but he has a monster passed pawn on c7 which will be the bane of Carlsen for the rest of the game. As for Black... well, let's say the Queen is the last piece in the world which you'll want to use as a blockader.

14... b4
15. Nb5

Reinforcing the passed pawn. It will not be good to accept the capture: 15. axb4 Bxb4 and the intruding bishop poses problems.

15... a4

This move clears the way for ... Ra5 attacking the knight, and also prevents a possible a4 advance by White which will make the knight untouchable.

16. Rc1

White would love to put a minor piece on the d6 square, but he cannot do that immediately because it gives up protection of the c7 pawn. Hence 16. Rc1 adds an extra defender that allows White to threaten Nd6.

16... Ne4
17. Ng5 Ndf6

The knight is not free; 17... Bxg5 18. Bxg5 Nxg5? leads to the crushing 19. Nd6 where it's all over.

Carlsen spent nearly 30 minutes thinking about 17. Ndf6, an indication that he was venturing into unfamiliar territory. On the other hand, Anand was well prepared and spent less time on his moves (during the press conference, it was revealed that he had analyzed this position as far as move 20!)

18. Nxe4 Nxe4?!

While it looks logical, 18... Nxe4 is a slight inaccuracy; Black would have been better off recapturing with the pawn and giving his knight access to the d5 square: 18... dxe4 19. Nd6 Bxd6 20. Bxd6 b3 21. Bxf8 Kxf8 22. Qd2 Nd5 and Black's powerful knight gives excellent compensation for the exchange.

19. f3 Ra5

Once again 19... Nf6? 20. Bd6 Bxd6 21.Nxd6 wins for White.

20. fxe4

In an earlier game (Aronian vs Adams, Bilbao 2013), White defended the knight with 20. Qe2 and after 20... Qd7 21. fxe4 Rc8! 22. exd5 exd5 23. axb4 Rxb5 Black was able to hold the draw.

20... Rxb5
21. Qxa4 Ra5
22. Qc6 bxa3 (D)

Position after 22. bxa3

Black tries to generate some counterplay with a passed pawn of his own. However, White's pawn is more advanced and ties down the enemy Queen, while his own Queen is free to roam about.

23. exd5 Rxd5

A difficult decision; 23... exd5 damages the pawn structure and creates a weak pawn on d5. While 23... Rxd5 avoids this problem, it strips the a-pawn of protection.

24. Qxb6

Now the Black rook cannot return to the a-file.

24... Qd7

Changing of the guard; Carlsen tries to get his other rook into the game.

25. O-O?!

For a moment it seemed that Anand was letting his opponent off the hook. The better variation was 25. Qa6 Rc8 26. Rb1! where Black is forced to give up the exchange in order to survive: 26... Rxc7 27. Rb8+ Bd8 28. Bxc7 Qxc7 29. Rc8 and White wins.

25... Rc8
26. Rc6 (D)

Black is completely tied up here; his heavy pieces have no good squares to go to, and he cannot trade bishops on d6.

26... g5
27. Bg3

27. Be5 was another move worth considering; Black cannot push f6 because of the rook on f1.

27... Bb4!

Exploiting the fact that 27. Bg3 weakened the e3 pawn.The threat here is that if White tries doubling rooks with 28. Rfc1, then 28... Bd2 picks up the pawn. After some thought, Anand answered this move with an equally strong reply:

28. Ra1!

Now if Black plays Bd2 he cannot take on e3 after Rxa3. At the press conference, Anand commented that he was very happy with this move.

28... Ba5?

Under time pressure, Carlsen finally cracks. 28... h5 would have offered more resistance, but after 29. h3 h4 30. Bh2 Kh7 31. Ra2 (preventing 31... Bd2) Black has no source of counterplay.

29. Qa6 Bxc7 (D)

Find the best move for White
30. Qc4!

The pin is decisive. Carlsen had been hoping for 30. Qb7 Rxd4! 31. exd4? Qxd4+

30... e5
31. Bxe5 Rxe5
32. dxe5 Qe7
33. e6 Kf8
34. Rc1 (D)

Position after 34. Rc1

Faced with an untenable position with only seconds remaining on his clock, Carlsen throws in the towel. Further resistance will only lead to major loss of material.


So it is clear that the Tiger of Madras still has plenty of fight left in him. Through this game we can witness a display of Anand's strengths: Superior opening preparation (which enabled him to lure Carlsen into unfamiliar territory), good calculative skills, and an uncanny ability to fight in dynamic tactical positions.

At the time of writing the score is 3.5-4.5 in favour of Carlsen. Round 9 starts tomorrow, and with each successive game we would expect both players to put up an even greater fight. So sit back, grab some popcorn a chess engine, and enjoy the remainder of this exciting match!


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