Saturday November 30, 2013
A Happy Thanksgiving to those in the United States, as well as those celebrating the holiday elsewhere! Here's a look at the new content you might have missed while you were celebrating with family and friends:
Expect some more content that recaps the recent World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand over the next couple of weeks. As always, let me know if there's something special you'd like to see on the site in December!
Friday November 22, 2013
Congratulations to Magnus Carlsen, the new World Chess Champion. While today's game did get a bit wild at times, Carlsen was never worse than even, and actually had winning chances throughout much of the game. He missed a shot at a winning edge around move 30, then repeatedly passed up opportunities to seek a draw through repetition of moves to continue pressing whatever advantage he might have. In the end, Carlsen went into a very long forced line where he sacrificed a knight and allowed both players to promote a pawn to a queen, resulting in an endgame where Carlsen had a queen and three pawns against Anand's queen and knight. That was clearly a draw, but it became doubtless when Carlsen forced a trade of queens, and official after all of the material came off the board.
In the post-game press conference, Anand pointed to Game 5 as the obvious turning point of the match (though Carlsen, understandably, said that he started to feel good after he nearly won Game 4), and congratulated his opponent on winning the match. Carlsen called Anand one of the greatest players of all time, and said that he was both honored to have played him and happy to have gotten the best of his esteemed opponent. Anand, of course, will be back next year in the next Candidates Tournament, as he earns an automatic bid. He may not go into that event as the favorite, but nobody would be shocked if he were able to win it and earn a rematch again the new champion.
I'll have a longer post reflecting on the match and what it means for both players either later today or over the weekend. For now, here's the final game of the match, which was ultimately won by Carlsen by the score of 6.5-3.5.
White: Magnus Carlsen
Black: Viswanathan Anand
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Qxd4 a6 6. Bxd7+ Bxd77. c4 Nf6 8. Bg5 e6 9. Nc3 Be7 10. O-O Bc6 11. Qd3 O-O 12. Nd4 Rc8 13. b3 Qc7 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 15. Rac1 h6 16. Be3 Nd7 17. Bd4 Rfd8 18. h3 Qc7 19. Rfd1 Qa5 20. Qd2 Kf8 21. Qb2 Kg8 22. a4 Qh5 23. Ne2 Bf6 24. Rc3 Bxd4 25. Rxd4 Qe5 26. Qd2 Nf6 27. Re3 Rd7 28. a5 Qg5 29. e5 Ne8 30. exd6 Rc6 31. f4 Qd8 32. Red3 Rcxd6 33. Rxd6 Rxd6 34. Rxd6 Qxd6 35. Qxd6 Nxd6 36. Kf2 Kf8 37. Ke3 Ke7 38. Kd4 Kd7 39. Kc5 Kc7 40. Nc3 Nf5 41. Ne4 Ne3 42. g3 f5 43. Nd6 g5 44. Ne8+ Kd7 45. Nf6+ Ke7 46. Ng8+ Kf8 47. Nxh6 gxf4 48. gxf4 Kg7 49. Nxf5+ exf5 50. Kb6 Ng2 51. Kxb7 Nxf4 52. Kxa6 Ne6 53. Kb6 f4 54. a6 f3 55. a7 f2 56. a8=Q f1=Q 57. Qd5 Qe1 58. Qd6 Qe3+ 59. Ka6 Nc5+ 60. Kb5 Nxb3 61. Qc7+ Kh6 62. Qb6+ Qxb6+ 63. Kxb6 Kh5 64. h4 Kxh4 65. c5 Nxc5 ½-½
Thursday November 21, 2013
It's all over but the shouting. Magnus Carlsen has moved within a half-point of the World Chess Championship after capturing another win with the black pieces over Viswanathan Anand in the ninth game of their match. That puts Carlsen in position to win the title with just one draw in any of the final three games, including two games with White.
Today's game was a very sharp Nimzo-Indian in which Anand played 4. f3. Anand generated a very scary kingside attack against Carlsen, with many commentators feeling that a checkmating attack was a real possibility. Computers showed that Black could hold at all times, but that meant little in a position where so much was at stake in every move, and one slip by Carlsen could have given Anand a winning attack. In the post-game press conference, Carlsen said he certainly felt the tension during the game, but all of his calculations failed to show any forced mates, so he went with his plan of generating counterplay on the queenside.
That counterplay resulted in Carlsen promoting a pawn to put a second queen on the board - one that he would eventually have to sacrifice back to prevent mate. But while that the whole world waited for Anand to block a check with his bishop and force Carlsen to give up his queen for a knight a couple moves later -- leading to a position in which Carlsen would have to defend vigorously to keep a slight edge and avoid a mating attack -- he instead made an unnatural move and blocked with his knight. It was a pure blunder, allowing the winning move 28...Qe1, which meant the best Anand could do would be to win the queen by giving up a rook, leaving him with a large material disadvantage and no mating threats. Anand resigned immediately.
The game ended with a blunder, but Carlsen's dedication to a plan that ignored the mating threats for as long as humanly possible was still impressive. As Anand said after the game, he'll still try his best, but the situation doesn't look good (quite an understatement), and it is very likely that by this time tomorrow, we will have a new World Champion. It'll be a historic day for chess if it happens; I'd recommend waking up early if you want to see it, because there's no telling just how long the game could go, especially if Anand goes for broke and plays something extremely risky as Black. Today's moves:
White: Viswanathan Anand
Black: Magnus Carlsen
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. e3 c4 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. g4 O-O 11. Bg2 Na5 12. O-O Nb3 13. Ra2 b5 14. Ng3 a5 15. g5 Ne8 16. e4 Nxc1 17. Qxc1 Ra6 18. e5 Nc7 19. f4 b4 20. axb4 axb4 21. Rxa6 Nxa6 22. f5 b3 23. Qf4 Nc7 24. f6 g6 25. Qh4 Ne8 26. Qh6 b2 27. Rf4 b1=Q+ 28. Nf1 Qe1 0-1
Tuesday November 19, 2013
While Game Eight of the 2013 World Chess Championship may have taken 33 moves to complete, it was the fastest game yet in terms of how much time was spent at the board. It took just 40 minutes for the players to complete the game, with Magnus Carlsen in particular playing quickly, using less than 30 seconds per move. Carlsen had the white pieces, and pulled a minor surprise by playing 1. e4. Viswanathan Anand responded with e5, and we were treated to the third Berlin Defense of the match, this time with Carlsen avoiding the main lines as White. Neither side ever had any real advantage, and Carlsen took an opportunity to liquidate all of the pieces, leaving a king and pawn endgame where the board was completely closed. Left with a position that any beginner should be able to draw, the two shook hands and went into the rest day with a 5-3 lead for Carlsen.
There's little to say about this game, as it was a particularly tepid contest. Carlsen, for his part, was okay with drawing; after all, he's now just 1.5 points away from becoming World Champion with four games to play. For Anand, getting into the rest day with an easy draw as Black was also not a terrible result, as he can take tomorrow to try to come up with something spectacular to play for a win in Game Nine on Thursday. That game will be absolutely critical to this match, as anything other than a win will make Carlsen -- already a big favorite to win the match at this point -- almost a certainty to take home the title. Still, it's not over yet, and a two-game lead is just close enough that there will be drama even if the next two games are also drawn. After all, Anand winning two games in a row is hardly out of the question -- it just feels that way given what we've seen so far in this match.
White: Magnus Carlsen
Black: Viswanathan Anand
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5
Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. d4 Bf6 10. Re1 Re8 11. c3 Rxe1
12. Qxe1 Ne8 13. Bf4 d5 14. Bd3 g6 15. Nd2 Ng7 16. Qe2 c6
17. Re1 Bf5 18. Bxf5 Nxf5 19. Nf3 Ng7 20. Be5 Ne6 21. Bxf6
Qxf6 22. Ne5 Re8 23. Ng4 Qd8 24. Qe5 Ng7 25. Qxe8+ Nxe8
26. Rxe8+ Qxe8 27. Nf6+ Kf8 28. Nxe8 Kxe8 29. f4 f5 30. Kf2 b5
31. b4 Kf7 32. h3 h6 33. h4 h5 1/2-1/2