Anand-Carlsen 0-1 in Game Six

Not only a pawn got promoted, but Carlsen himself as the new King as well, comments after the game six. The challenger scored another win and took 4-2 lead in the 12-game series. There seems to be no much hope left for the still-reigning champion in the six games to go.

Boris Leonov 1990

We have the new King! (chess cartoon Boris Leonov in Magazine ’64, 1990)

Here is Carlsen at the press conference after the game:

“I thought I got a solid position out of the opening. Then at some point I was little bit better.
But nothing much going on. He sacrificed or blundered a pawn. After that I got a good rook ending. I am not at all sure if it is winning. At this point I missed the whole h5 idea. I didn’t think you can really give up a pawn like that. May be I should play 43…h5 (instead of 43…Kf7) and press for a win eventually with Re7-e5. Now, it was a draw. I had one little trap. Which was my Kf4-Ke3 etc. Fortunately he went for it. It is very difficult. May be impossible to hold after that.”

Anand-Carlsen game six after 59...f4

Position after 59…f4

60. Ra4?

White would be fine after 60.b4. The loss of tempo turns out to be fatal. ”This is incredible! Anand with so much time blundered with Ra4 instead of the logical1 b4. Stunning!” twitted GM Zsuzsa Polgar ( @SusanPolgar)

Anand could have drawn in many simpler ways earlier, but it wasn’t too late, even now, 60.b4! You can see how important is to move the b-pawn in this line: 60…h3 61.gxh3 Rg6 62.Rc7 f3 63.Re7+ Kd2 64.b5 Rg2+ (or 64…f2 65.Rf7 Ke1 66.Re7+ Kf1 67.c4 Rg2+ 68.Kh1 Rg3 69.Kh2=) 65.Kh1 Re2 66.Rf7 f2 67.b6 Ke1 68.b7 Re8 69.c4 f1Q+ 70.Rxf1+ Kxf1 71.c5 Kf2 with a perpetual ( analisys).

60…h3 61. gxh3 Rg6!

All of a sudden White is lost!

62. c4

Doesn’t help either 62.Ra7 f3 63.Re7+ Kf2 64.b4 Rg2+ 65.Kh1 Rg1+ 66.Kh2 Re1 etc. (GM Alex Baburin inChess Today CT-4757)

62…f3 63. Ra3+ Ke2 64. b4 f2 65. Ra2+ Kf3 66. Ra3+
Kf4 67. Ra8 Rg1 0-1

Well, what to say?

Rook endgames make up roughly half of all endings reached in master games. As you just saw, even World Champions blink there. So, it’s vital that you thoroughly familiarize yourselves with this critical part of the game.

During their live coverage of game six, GM Susan Polgar and her Indian colleague GM Ramesh discussed various ways of how to improve your game by studying rook endgames. Here is a little hint coming from me.

One of the books on rook endings with the most practical value for you may be IM Nikolay Minev’s A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames. Here is what GM Yaser Seirawan, the four-time United States chess champion had to say in the Foreword.

“The original work had been translated into Russian and sold out in huge quantities. Virtually a whole generation of Soviet players have intently studied this work which leads me to tell my own remarkable story: After the 2002 Russia versus the Rest of the World, Garry Kasparov invited me to visit his Moscow flat where we landed in front of a chess board.”

“In one particular game I had been pressing an initiative for some time when suddenly Garry called out, ‘Draw!’ I begged to differ; the edge was mine. Garry disappeared for a few moments and came back with a book on rook endings. Within seconds he had found the exact position on our board, showed the anali­sys and exclaimed, ‘Minev!’”

“Well, what to say? I was all prepared to challenge the highest ranked player in history to continue the game, but I wasn’t prepared to challenge Minev. We reset the pieces for the next game.”

Nikolay Minev, A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames



1. Well, “Chess is not only knowledge and logic,” Dr. Alexander Alekhine. So much is a “body of mastery acquired by and built on experience (and hard work). The mastery of a highly composite set, or program of general and specific perceptual and thought habits and routines” (which also include time management GM Susan Polgar mentioned in her tweet – so Zsuzsa, don’t be so tough on Anand:)

Adriaan de Groot, Thought and Choice in Chess (as many of us can’t afford this famous book – a used copy on Amazon is $169.95 and up – please contact me and I’ll tell you what you can do) 

chess cartoon by Sergey Arkavin and Boris Leonov from the Russian '64' Chess Magazine