Magnus Carlsen Wins Game 2 In Sochi World Championship

Magnus Carlsen Wins Game 2 In Sochi World Championship

| 134 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen defeated Viswanathan Anand in the second game of the World Championship match in Sochi, Russia. The world champion leads 1.5-0.5 after two games.

In a quiet Ruy Lopez (Berlin Defense) the Norwegian started an attack on the enemy king, and Anand had to make some concessions setting up a defense. In what was a very difficult position, the Indian blundered.

Somewhat later than on the first day, in fact just a few minutes before three, it was Magnus Carlsen who appeared on stage first, carrying a water bottle filled with his trademark fruit juice with him. Almost immediately Viswanathan Anand joined him to spend another afternoon in the spotlight of world chess.

The handshake before the game.

Whereas 1.e4 had been the ceremonial first move by a non-chess player on Saturday — quickly changed to 1.d4 by Anand — this time the move was the actual choice of Carlsen.

It was once famously described “best by test” by Bobby Fischer, but the deceased world champion no longer holds that opinion, if we may believe another world champion: Boris Spassky, Fischer's opponent in the Match of the Century in 1972.

Spassky has been in Sochi since Friday, and today he spent some time in the playing hall, at the start of the game.

Boris Spassky watching the start of the game.

Bound to his wheelchair, the 77-year-old chess legend stole the show during a press conference that was organized because of the launch of a new book titled Winning Record Against World Champions, co-authored by him and FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer.

One of the anecdotes told by Spassky is featured in the video below:

One quote begs to be included: “I sometimes talk with Bobby in my dreams, and we talk about chess. For example, recently I asked him what he thinks is the best first move. ‘1.d4,’ he said to me, ‘because the queen's pawn is protected on that square.’”

The press conference, with Spassky on the left.

Anand probably had another reason for playing 1.d4 in the first game: his failed attempts to get an advantage against Carlsen's Berlin Wall. However, the Norwegian still felt he could achieve something in that territory, and moved his king's pawn. “It wasn't too bad. We get a more or less equal but playable position and that's OK by me,” he said afterward.

It would have been most thematic to see the infamous ending on the board, 25 years after the real Berlin Wall fell, but that didn't happen: without hesitation Carlsen played 4.d3. In any case, we chess players have our own connections with the date of 9 November anyway!

Obviously the little pawn move didn't come as a surprise to Anand, who quickly developed his king's bishop “outside the chain” before playing his queen's pawn. He then stood up, put off his jacket and gave it to one of the deputy arbiters.

Carlsen playing 1.e4.

And there it came: a new concept, a different kind of piece setup, prepared by Carlsen. He voluntarily gave up his king's bishop for a knight on c6, without waiting for the move a7-a6, and then developed his queen's knight to d2.

It was quite a very modest little concept from the Norwegian, one that was answered with sensible moves by Anand. Black was absolutely fine after thirteen moves.

However, in what could be described as the first critical moment of the game, Carlsen found the strong maneuver Ra1-a3-g3. An excellent plan that proved that there was still life in the position.

Carlsen's manager, FM Espen Agdestein, was spending his time in the press room and said: “I didn't see a way yet for Magnus to put pressure on his opponent.” At that point Carlsen put his knight on f5, stood up, walked around his chair and started leaning on it.

“There wasn't too much going on to be honest. I felt I might have a slight initiative and [after Rg3] I was getting a bit more optimistic,” said Carlsen afterward.

Whether it was that, or the fact that a rook on g3 and a knight on f5 is always a bit of a menacing combination, who knows, but from that moment things started to go downhill for Anand. 

The 44-year-old Indian player hesitated for a long time between moving his queen to the kingside or developing his queen's bishop, and he chose the latter. After the game the players agreed that 18...Qf7 would have been fine for Black, whereas top GM Hikaru Nakamura made another suggestion:

The clock situation was almost identical for the players, but now things were going Magnus' way on the board. Anand made a slightly nervous impression, and on Twitter some top players started to worry for him.

Anand had to block the g-file by putting his knight on g6, but according to Carlsen that was a sign things had gone wrong. “If Black has to go for [this] it's clear that something has gone pretty seriously wrong.”

Something went “pretty seriously wrong” for Anand.

And it showed: an operation that removed all the minor pieces from the board left Anand with a difficult position. His f-pawn would almost certainly drop, and White also controled the e-file, with a possible infiltration on the seventh rank hanging in the air. Anand: “To be honest there aren't any easy choices.”

Yes, Anand was still paddling since he had found the best practical chance on 28: a pawn break to open up the b-file. Was Black getting counterplay? Would he get back into the game?

But no. The computer evaluations had dropped somewhat in Anand's favor, but suddenly they peaked to +12. Anand had blundered, and it was game over instantly.

Game 2 annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov

Would Anand have been able to hold the position without the blunder? Carlsen said about that: “I think at that point it's anyway a dreadful position to defend.” Anand didn't object to that statement.

Carlsen is leading the match, but hasn't played his best chess yet. “Today I feel that I didn't play in the most precise way after I gained an advantage so I still need to improve,” he said at the end of the press conference. Anand has a full rest day to decide whether that's good or bad.

Carlsen-Anand 2014 | Score

# Name Rtg Perf G01 G02 G03 G04 G05 G06 G07 G08 G09 G10 G11 G12 Pts
1 Carlsen 2863 2982 ½ 1 1.5/2
2 Anand 2792 2673 ½ 0 0.5/2

A tweet from the bus back to the hotel: Magnus and his sister Ingrid. Coverage of the World Championship will provide 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's highlights showsStay tuned to the calendar page for updates as we assign many of our great broadcasters to daily shows. will also host highlights shows on the rest days from Sochi! 

IM Danny Rensch will be hosting the first highlights show with top GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on Monday, Nov. 10!

Further shows will feature none other than top GM Hikaru Nakamura on Nov. 13 and 16. 

Look for more updates on the calendar or follow @chesscomtv on Twitter!

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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