Advice for team Anand: Play the Najdorf!

Dear Team Anand,

In preparation for the upcoming world title defense I have made an analysis of Magnus Carlsen's games and come to some important conclusions. At this point everyone realizes that Carlsen is a phenomenal chess player and stands ready to take the title with the same ease thatJose Capablanca took the title from Emmanual Lasker in 1921.

But I am sure you are aware that Vishy Anand is no stranger to the turmoil and hardship of top level matches. If he can keep his title he will stand alone as the greatest match player in chess history having already defended his title against Kramnik, Topalov, and Gelfand.

In order to do this he will have to be in top physical condition. Carlsen is a grinding force that wears his opponent's down and patiently waits for them to blunder in the fifth and sixth hours of play. If Anand can make a statement of endurance he will have taken away one of Carlsen's trumps!


On to the Chess. It is key that Anand's team helps him use his strengths, namely that he has more experience than the 22 year old challenger. In particular I think they should steer the games into the sharpest lines possible. As black against Carlsen's favorite 1.e4 it makes good sense to rely on the Najdorf, a long time specialty of the world champion's.

 I present the following games to highlight some of Carlsen's rare losses and make the case that it is possible to outplay him with the black pieces if you can take him out of his comfort zone. The recent candidate matches also showed thatalthough Magnus may be the top player in the world he is also quite capable of losing games when faced with stiff resistance.

Our next game will feature Carlsen on the black side of the Najdorf. It is a distinct possibility that he will use this defense himself in the match. I think that this game shows perfectly what is possible when you out prepare him, get him into a murky difficult position and then follow through with near flawless technique.
This next game shows Carlsen over confidently spurning a theoretical draw to "just play chess"; a common trend in his games and potentially an area where Anand can look to pounce on the challenger's overt optimism. It will be the job of team of Anand to force the challenger into just these difficult situations game after game .
 As parting advice I will also add that if Anand is to defend his title he must put away his admiration and excessive respect for Carlsen. In the past he has shown a willingness to step aside for the Norwegian wunderkind by taking draws in good positions. In the 2013 Anand should realize his back is to the wall and be willing to fight for his crown with all of his resources. If he is able to do this I do not count his chances as any worse and the public can expect to see one of the most thrilling world title battles in history.
In addition to offering my advice to world champion's I also help mortal chess player's improve their game and achieve their chess goals. You can learn more about me and my coaching services at
Go team Anand!


  • 4 years ago


    Wanna hear good advice for Annand? Here it is. He should use his experience to his advantage. We all know that Carlsen has that win win win drive, he has that "i'm the best" personality and he expects nothing more than to beat every opponent. He pushes for wins sometimes too hard, but always finds a way to etch out a victory. So, it's time for Annand to pull out some chess psychology 101. The first few games he should shoot for drawish openings and play counter chess to just thwart Carlsen's position but never to try to win himself. He has to make it obvious too. Carlsen will of course try for a win but each game will go down into a drawn position quickly. This will of course frustrate Carlsen, he'll be looking for a fight that isn't there, he'll start to get antsy and he'll start to push. By the 3rd or 4th match he'll either try and push too hard into making a blunder or he'll be so frustrated he wont be able to concentrate properly.

    Does Annand need to try and psych out Carlsen to win? No, I think for the most part they're evenly matched this time around, but why not? I mean the biggest advantage Annand has is he's been here before. Carlsen will be coming in a bit overwhelmed to start out but this will clear by the end of the first 2 games, so this is a perfect time to throw him off and make sure he doesn't get comfortable.

    I do wonder though how much energy for all this Annand has left in the tank. I mean I don't expect him to throw it or anything, but I wonder if he's almost looking forward to not being champion anymore. After awhile it has got to be a bit tiresome and old. Does he have the drive and the love for the game enough to put up the kind of fight that Carlsen is going to bring? Is he going to want to do what it takes to beat Carlsen enough times to hold the title? I just don't see it in him these days, I don't see the tiger.

  • 4 years ago


    I'll agree that Anand is going to have to look for an advantage in opening preparation, because he has a better knowledge of that stuff than Carlsen, but a disadvantage in endgame skill. I'm not sure if the Najdorf is likely, but I'd certainly like to see it in the match.

  • 4 years ago


    They both can play any way they want, and I will be applauding both of them.

  • 4 years ago


  • 4 years ago


    All Carlsen fans beware:


    Anand has nothing to lose; he has already been there; done that: ie: World Champion.  One day he will have to hand over the baton; anyway!

    The pressure is definitely going to be on Carlsen!!  Anand can play anyway he wants!!

  • 4 years ago


    I would love to see some Najdorf action on the world championship level. :)

  • 4 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    Black can equalize several different ways easily against 3.Bb5 so unlikely to see at WC, also this was seen against Gelfand's Nc6 Sicilians.

    I suspect Carlsen would be most inclined to play the Chekhover system, I believe it is called this (Zaitsev!? also comes to mind or maybe this is something else) 4.Qxd4 as he has shown some ideas here in the past and it is simple to play and try stuff.

  • 4 years ago

    vaiuuii - I honestly doubt Vishy will dear to go into the Sicilian after that not too long ago slaughter.

    Even if Anand tries to play the Najdorf, there are at least 4-5 lines that Carlsen can play to avoid that completely: Grand Prix, Moscow, Rossolimo, Checkhover, Closed, maybe even more.

    If I'd be Carlsen I'd play 6 different variations with black. Anand is obviously going to play 1. d4 and go for a long term albrit slight edge. Nimzo, Bogo, QID, Slav, Semi-Slav, QGD... and the list can go on...

  • 4 years ago


    Good article, although very biased. I'm sure Team Carlsen is well aware of this and working hard to put things right :) Anyway, I hope Carlsen will win. Anand has been a complacent title holder for far too long.

  • 4 years ago


    @Laskerfan: I expect Anand to take draws in slightly better positions in tournament games, but not in a match.

    It doesn't matter if he is not the favorite, im sure he is going to play for a win (the match, not every single game). Said that, taking draws in better positions is a bad strategy and he knows it...

    On the other hand, a safe draw against the top seed is not a bad idea in tournament play (and Carlsen is always the top seed).

    I think that kinda shaped Carlsen's style, everyone plays for a draw against him, so he just win drawish endgames...

  • 4 years ago


    Anand is like Lasker with Capa's intuition.Carlsen is like young Reshevsky- chess-counter.Your advice,of course-right-in such kind of positions-Anand is clearly better-Carlsen playes very simple and directly-too directly for sicilian...for example 19.R e1 in the last game -like Karpov-19. Rc1 vs Kasparov -1985.In both games -Rd1 was better .Ultrasolid sometimes is passive and ultrabad...19...19Embarassed

  • 4 years ago


    Wonderful article!  To play Carlsen, he must be in top physical shape!  I suggest the insanity workout DVDs.

  • 4 years ago


    How is Anand going to prepare anything against Carlsen?

  • 4 years ago


    Though obviously bias, your article is still worth reading. It will stand as an analyses; but not as an advice to Anand because of your closure. Thank you.  

  • 4 years ago


    Kingcrash not nice at some respect to the world champion...

  • 4 years ago


    I fully agree with your analysis, and I'm pretty sure Anand has already drawn similar conclusions... Smile

  • 4 years ago


    Carlsen often avoids the Najdorf these days with 3. Bb5 or 3. Nc3, something like that.

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