Anand Holds Draw In 2nd-Longest World Championship Game Ever

Anand Holds Draw In 2nd-Longest World Championship Game Ever

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Nov 17, 2014, 10:24 AM |
90 | Chess Event Coverage

On Monday GM Magnus Carlsen played his second game in a row with the white pieces in Sochi. GM Viswanathan Anand played an extensive, prepared line in the Berlin Defense of the Ruy Lopez and the game ended in a draw after a lengthy defense. 

Carlsen thus retains his one-point lead in the 2014 World Championship in Sochi, Russia. He has 4.0/7 while Anand has 3.0/7, but the challenger will get to play White three times in the final five games. Carlsen thus scored 1.5/2 with his double-white combo, while Anand only managed 0.5/2 with his similar opportunity in the 2013 match.

After only 30 minutes of play, 24 moves were on the board. The next five moves took 90 minutes collectively. The two followed the recent game Giri-Radjabov from the 2014 FIDE Grand Prix in Tashkent last month. Anand's 25...Nf7 was the first change; Radjabov preferred 25...f5.

Carlsen demurred after being asked by veteran journalist Leontxo Garcia how much of the line he prepared:

"I think a lot of other openings have been seen in this match, and I don't follow trends set by Giri and Radjabov in general," Carlsen said.

The game produced the second-most moves of any world championship game in history. It lasted 122 moves and more than six hours. Only Korchnoi-Karpov, 1978, Game five, was longer (124 moves).

Play could have gone all the way to move 154. Carlsen's last capture came on move 104 and according to the rules adopted in July, he now had 50 moves to make Anand slip, or 75 if neither player bothered to make a claim (rule 9.6, unlikely of course!). The pawnless ending is not especially diffucult to hold, and Anand's early competence made Carlsen relent much earlier than that maximum possibility.

Analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov:


The ending of R+N vs. R Carlsen has won in the past (as well as other top GMs, including Garry Kasparov over Judit Polgar). In 2011, Carlsen beat GM Erwin L'Ami at the Tata Steel Tournament. The Dutchman lasted only 19 moves, a fact he was reminded of all too often today.

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Neither player has ever defeated the other on the White side of a Berlin, as Chess.com's pre-match analysis revealed. That trend continued today of course.

Late in the middlegame, the challenger had to decide whether or not to play an inferior rook and pawn ending. Anand didn't like his chances, so he offered a minor piece to dispatch all of Carlsen's dangerous kingside pawns. With Black only having to defend one side of the board, Carlsen's extra knight was not enough to win, even though he rated the position highly.

"If I missed something I don't know exactly where," Carlsen said. "It was a promising position but he dug in and defended really well. I don't know where I could have won."

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Carlsen said his winning formation couldn't quite take shape the way he wanted: 

“I have to admit that initially I was convinced that there should be a way to win this ending. I couldn't see how to really make progress without playing c4. Basically I need to get the knight to d5 and the rook on the 7th rank which is a plan that can't easily be stopped with the pawn on c4, but he can get counterplay and when he gets c5 I can put the knight on d3 instead, the king on c3, c3 and so on but I don't know, it didn't see a way to make progress.”

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Game 7 video

"I thought today I defended quite well, especially Rg5, I was very happy when I saw it and things like that," Anand said. "Obviously it wasn't really what you enjoy but it's part of the territory I think.

“Once I went for the piece sac then it's straightforward and it's tough because at every moment you have to choose for some specific setup, you can't just keep blundering back and forth but you have to choose some very specific setup and stick to it. The good think is once I settled on a setup I would get about 10 moves apiece till the next decision came along. It was a tough ending for sure.”

Anand said he has seen similar endings before but he didn't elaborate on the exact games.

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At some point in the knight-versus-two-pawns ending, Carlsen's meandering began to evolve into a menacing plan. The Indian GM had to switch from passive to active defense.

“Once he plays c4 I couldn't see how to make him stop Nd5 and Re7, maybe I can do it with my king... In general [with] ...b5 there's no way back. I couldn't see how White would break through. Essentially I felt that at a certain moment I would have this counterplay with the king coming to b4. I felt it was the only way at this stage.”

Anand called the final hour of the game, "superfluous, [but] it wasn't so bad." Most pundits claimed Carlsen was well within his right (and therefore didn't violate any etiquette) by playing on.

"I thought basically when he went for his ending he already signed up for suffering so it didn't make that much difference,” Carlsen explained. Anand responded that he wasn't annoyed, not even a little.

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With the time nearing 10 p.m. in Sochi, Carlsen did not answer questions from Norwegian media, as has been his custom in most rounds.

Chess.com did catch up with some of the plentiful Norwegian media who have come to cover him. We learned, among other things, a special decree by the mayor of Oslo and some background on Carlsen's dance-floor moves.

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Carlsen-Anand 2014 | Score

# Name Rtg Perf G01 G02 G03 G04 G05 G06 G07 G08 G09 G10 G11 G12 Pts
1 Carlsen 2863 2851 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/7
2 Anand 2792 2804 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 3.0/7

Chess.com Coverage of the World Championship

Chess.com is providing daily “recap” shows after each round! This is the ONLY place (that we know of) offering in-depth, SportsCenter-style breakdowns of what happened in the games. 

Not able to watch the games live? Don't worry, you won't miss anything with Chess.com's highlights showsStay tuned to the Chess.com/TV calendar page for updates as we assign many of our great broadcasters to daily shows. 

Chess.com is also hosting highlights shows on the rest days from Sochi, with top GMs such as GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Hikaru Nakamura.

Look for more updates on the Chess.com/TV calendar or follow @chesscomtv on Twitter!



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