Carlsen-Anand 2014: even after 4 games
It was just a year ago when se saw Magnus Carlsen crowned World Champion of Chess in Chennai, defeating local hero Anand in a one sided match. Against all bets, the veteran Vishwanthan Anand won the Candidates Tournament of 2014 and earned his right to fight back with Carlsen for the crown of chess. He played rather well in Khanty Mansysk and later in September Anand won the Bilbao Masters tournament ahead of Aronian, Ponomariov and Vallejo, so everybody was expecting something more disputed this year. And here we are, a year after Chennai, in which is the Anand-Carlsen "The Rematch" if you will.
The match is being Held in Sochi, Russia, right where Winter Olympic games took place. Needless to say, the match rises lots of expectation around the world. This year, Indian fans are eager for a sweat revenge and are willing to see the world chess title back in India. On the other hand, Norway is absolutely crazy about chess these days: TVs are broadcasting the games live with comments by local GMs and the whole country is following the moves from Sochi. And so the D-day arrived and the contenders started to play chess.
The first game was already an interesting battle. Both players know each other quite well so no need of shy approaches; Anand had the white pieces and tried an interesting line against the Grunfeld. Eventually, Carlsen outplayed his opponent in the middlegame and had some serious initiative; Vishy was forced to defend.
In the second game the defending champion had the white pieces and he played 4.d3 against the Berlin defence. A really cool rook (Ra1-a3-g3) manouvre led to some kingside attack, but even if it wasnt successfull, Magnus emerged with some serious pressure on the center and eventually scored the first full point in the match after a horrible blunder by Anand.
Things were very tough for Anand. Most people (including myself probably) thought the match was over; this year the nightmare was starting even earlier. In the third game Vishy had the white pieces and his reaction was going to be fundamental to see if there was a serious match or not. He caught Magnus underprepared right from the opening (Queen´s gambit declined) and scored an astonishing comeback, a beautiful positional victory which was a great sensation throughout the world of chess.
After this great boost of confidence, Anand was ready to defend the black pieces in game nº 4. A positional Sicilian appeared where Carlsen tried to take the game to his territory: slow, dry chess, with minimum advantages and patient manouvring. It was an interesting lesson about the IQP.
And so we have an even score after 4 games, still a lot to be played in Sochi to find out who will emerge as a World Champion from the coast of the Black Sea.
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