Welcome to Carlsen – Anand Sochi World Championship game 2.
1 e4 e5 Anand opted for something safer instead of Sicilian, which he is very familiar with.
2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 Anand went for the Berlin, one of the most solid openings for black against 1. e4. From the speed of both players, it is clear that Magnus did anticipate Vishy’s opening choice.
4 d3 Magnus does not want to get into the Berlin as it is a drawish option. He wants something where the position is richer.
4…Bc5 5 O-O d6 6 Re1 O-O 7 Bxc6 This is an interesting choice. Usually, white does not need to capture this knight this early.
7…bxc6 8 h3 Anand is spending a lot of time to decide how to proceed here.
8…Re8 9. Nbd2 Magnus is more than 10 minutes on the clock. The message is quite clear. He is well prepared. At this point, white’s plan is simply to develop all his pieces. However, black needs to decide how to proceed.
9…Nd7 The idea is to play Nf8, then to either g6 or e6.
In a World Championship, a lot of mind games come into play. Players and their seconds analyzed everything the opponents play, then they decide on a game plan. The idea is to get the type of positions they excel in, and ones which are most uncomfortable for the opponent. Each team also look at the stats to see how the opponent fared against various openings. This will also contribute to what types of openings they will try to aim for. Speaking from personal experience, it is a lot of work, and it does not always work out as planned.
10 Nc4 This is the type of position Magnus wants, something not overly sharp, something where he can “play chess”, and not so theorical.
10…Bb6 An idea for white is to play c3 to prepare for d4. Another option is a4. Magnus is trying to pick a plan.
11 a4 Black’s most obvious response is a5, to stop white’s a4 pawn from advancing. The problem is the a5 pawn will be weak.
11…a5 Now white has interesting choices as to where to put his c1 bishop, on the a1-h8 diagonal or c1-h6 diagonal.
Young players, if given chances, should learn to play round robin events or matches. This will teach them how to really “prepare” in chess. I remember from personal experience the incredible amount of preparation that went into preparing my World Championship match. That experience helped me become the coach I am today. It was an invaluable experience which few understand. There is a huge difference in preparation for Swiss system events vs round robin or matches.
White is slightly better in this position but nothing has happened yet. Magnus still has to decide on how to proceed.
The general game plan for this match is: Magnus wants long grinding games as he is younger and has more stamina. As for Anand, he has different options but generally I think he wants sharper positions, which is not easy to achieve against Magnus because he will try not to allow it.
12 Nxb6 cxb6 13 d4 Qc7 Magnus decided to eliminate the bishop and try to open up the center.
14 Ra3 A clever way of getting the rook into play without having to move his queen and bishop. Black should continue with his original plan of Nd7-Nf8 then Ng6/e6.
14…Nf8 15 dxe5 dxe5 16 Nh4 Anand’s position is fine. It is up to Magnus to try to find any initiative, which is not simple here. If I am Anand, I would try to occupy the d file with Rd8. No need to push any issue yet.
16…Rd8 17 Qh5 While it may look scary to have the queen in front of the king, white does not have enough pieces to create big waves. Black is totally OK here.
17…f6 I still do not see any concrete plan for white to break through on the kingside. Both players have about equal time.
18 Nf5 Magnus’ dilemma is if he exchanges too many pieces, it is a dead drawn position with symmetrical pawn structure. Unless something weird happens, Anand must be happy with his 1st black game in the match. No drama, no problem.
18…Be6 White can try 19 Rg3 but Ng6 will stop any attack.
19 Rg3 as expected. Magnus’ plan is simple. He will try to create problems for Anand on the kingside. However, black should have little problem defending. The good thing for Anand is he has an easier time playing black today than white yesterday. The bad thing is no drama for the fans at home 🙂
I’m often asked what can novice players do to improve? My advice is solve a lot oft tactics and basic endgames.
19…Ng6 as expected, to minimize white’s threat on the g file. White has a few interesting options 20 h4 or even 20 Bh6 (but it will only lead to a draw). 20. Bh6 gxh6 21. Rxg6+ hxg6 22. Qxg6+ Kf8 23. Qxf6+ Qf7 24. Qxh6+ Ke8 25. Qh8+ Qg8 26. Qxe5 but this is too wild and I highly doubt that Magnus will go into this.
20 h4 as expected. No need for Magnus to go “crazy” this early in the match. I would just play Rd7 as black to help reinforcing the g7 pawn, to double up on the d file and wait. Magnus at some points has Bh6 threat. But I do not think that it is deadly for black. It just looks scary.
20…Bxf5 IMO, there is no reason to take this knight at this time. Black can just play Rd7 to give reinforcement to the g7 pawn. White can recapture with P or Q, but exf5 is more logical. I am not sure why Vishy played this move. There was no need to take the knight yet.
21. exf5 Now black has two options: 21…Nf4 or 21…Nf8. Both are OK.
21…Nf4 22 Bxf4 exf4 23 Rc3 c5 White clearly has a better endgame as his pieces are more active. This is a very unpleasant endgame for black. The question is would this be enough for white to win?
White has a number of choices. 24 Re6, 24. Rc4 or 24. Qf3
24 Re6 Now black can try 24…h6 or 24…Rab8. I think Vishy will play the more logical Rab8.
24…Rab8 Basically the black’s f4 pawn will be lost with Rc4, followed by Qf3.
25. Rc4 Now Anand has to worry both about his position and the clock. He has about 20+ minutes for 15 moves.
25…Qd7 The idea behind this move is to try to trade queens with Qd1+. However, Magnus can avoid it with Kh2. It is quite curious why Anand allowed himself to be in trouble again. This is again self inflicted just as in the first game.
26 Kh2 Rf8 This allows Magnus to double his rooks on the e file. Anand cannot stop this. He is in big trouble. This allows Magnus to double his rooks on the e file. Anand cannot stop this.
27 Rce4 Rb7 28 Qe2 b5 Black is in real big trouble. It looks like Magnus will score the 1st win today. You have to give Anand credit for trying to complicate the position. But it is a long way from saving this game. 29. Re7 Qd6 30. f3 Rxe7 31. Rxe7 bxa4 32. Qe4 and white’s position is dominant.
29 b3 Magnus chose a different option. If 29… c4 30. axb5 f3 31.Qxc4 Qxb5 32. g4 Qxc4 33. Rxc4 and white is winning.
29…bxa4 30 bxa4 Magnus is proceeding with caution. This is not as powerful as other lines but black is still in serious trouble.
30…Rb4 and now Magnus can once again proceed with 31 Re7. If If 31. Re7 Qxf5 32. Rxb4 axb4 33. Qc4+ Kh8 34. Qf7 Rg8 35. Re8 and mate coming.
31 Re7 Magnus is going for this. If 31…Qd6 then 32 f3 to stop the discovery.
31…Qd6 32 Qf3 Not as precise as f3 but white is still significantly better.
32…Rxe4 33 Qxe4 f3+ 34 g3 h5?? This is a horrible blunder as it loses immediately to 35 Qb7
35 Qb7 1-0 Anand got what he wanted out of the opening. But just as yesterday, he self destructed and lost badly. The score now is 1.5 – 0.5 in favor of Magnus
This is my advice for Anand: Play the position, not Carlsen, relax, loosen the collar, take a deep breath, have fun and qué será, será!
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