Welcome to Anand – Carlsen Sochi World Championship game 6 (LIVE commentary by me).
Thanks for joining me. After 5 games, the score is 2.5 – 2.5. This is the crucial point of the match because Magnus will have white in both game 6 and 7.
After not playing so well in the first two games, Anand turned the volume up and did well in the next 3 games. In the mean time, I think Magnus can raise the bar a little more.
Here are the rules of the match:
The Match is played over a maximum of twelve games and the winner of the match shall be the first player to score 6.5 points or more. If the scores are level after the twelve games, after a new drawing of colors, four tie-break games shall be played. The games shall be played using the electronic clock starting with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move. In case the match is still drawn, a match of 2 games shall be played with a time control of 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment after each move. In case of a level score, another 2-game match will be played to determine a winner. If still there is no winner after 5 such matches (total 10 games), one sudden-death game will be played.
2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 Magnus changed course instead of 3. g3
3…cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. Qd3 This is main move. Anand also plays this with white so both know this opening well.
7…Nc6 8. Nxc6 dxc6 9. Qxd8 Kxd8 Both players are moving very quickly.
10. e5 And now 10…Ne4 and black has nothing to worry about in this position.
10…Nd7 I am surprised to see Anand play 10…Nd7 which is more passive. But Anand made the move fast so he’s prepared.
11. Bf4 Anand is spending the most time so far after 11 Bf4. Curious that he’s spending time as still opening theory.
11…Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 Kc7 White has bishop pair but double c pawns. Black cannot castle and position is cramped. White is slightly better here but black is fine. In my opinion, Anand is happy to draw with black in this game.
13. h4 b6 14. h5 This game reminds me of Ali-Foreman 1974 Rumble in the Jungle Rope-A-Dope. Anand is staying back and telling Magnus to go for it.
14…h6 14..h6 I am not a fan of this move. g7 pawn can be a target for Magnus later. Black is still OK but Magnus has room to squeeze.
15. 0-0-0 Bb7 The idea for Magnus is simple. Rd3 – Rg3 and create pressure on the kingside, especially the g7 pawn.
16. Rd3 To defend g7, Anand will swing the a Rook to g8, and not the h Rook as white has Bd3 – Bh7. I still say this position is slightly better for white, nothing very serious. But this is the type of position Magnus likes. The key for Anand is he has to be fully focused on every move. Magnus will capitalize on every tiny initiative. So far Anand surprised me with 10…Nd7 instead of more aggressive Ne4 then 14…h6. Not blunder just my preference.
16. c5 17. Rg3 Rag8 18 Bd3 GM Caruana stated: “Passive and unpleasant position for Anand – something went very wrong….”
18…Nf8 An idea for Magnus is f3, then Rh4 then Rhg4 to pound on g7.
19. Be3 Maybe Anand wants to prove to himself that he can play against Magnus in his type of game? Because this is the type of position Magnus wants.
19…g6 20. hxg6 The only move for Anand is Nxg6. Everything else would results in a victory for Magnus today.
20…Nxg6 And now Magnus has to play Rh5 to stop the h pawn from advancing.
21. Rh5 As I mentioned above, the idea of Rh5 is simple. The pawn on h6 is weak and Magnus wants it to remain there. This is an unpleasant position for Anand. Quick quiz for the fans. Why can’t Magnus play Rxh6 immediately? 🙂
21…Bc6 Now Magnus has 22. Bc2 to buy a tempo. In various lines where Nxe5, the Bishop not being attacked.
22. Bc2 has been played. I’m sorry to say that Anand can’t be thrilled with his current position. Too much play for white, little counter play for black.
22…Kb7 White still has a small edge. But the key issue is it is easier to play with white than black. The plan for white is to get his K to the center, consolidate the g2 and e5 pawns, then pound on the h6 pawn. As for Anand, he has to find ways to keep the tension and not allow Magnus to slowly build up his advantage.
23. Rg4 Anand is only slightly worse. The issue is not the current but the type of position. It’s one which favors Magnus’ style.
23…a5 Just a waiting move to see what Magnus will do.
24. Bd1 The idea is to protect the g4 rook. Magnus is slowly building up pressure to uncork on h6.
24…Rd8 25. Bc2 Rdg8 Magnus’ approach is very unique. He looks at positions like a series of small puzzles which he’s trying to solve one by one. Anand is more of a traditional player with excellent preparation and understanding of general chess. Very contrasting styles.
26. Kd2 This is a huge blunder as 26…Ne5 and Magnus would be in big trouble! Anand has 26… Nxe5 27. Rxg8 Nxc4+ 28. Kd3 Nb2+ 29. Ke2 Rxg8 30. Rxh6 and Magnus would have been in trouble.
26…a4 Anand made this move instantly without thinking. Big mistake! Now Magnus is much better after 27. Ke2. This was the gift of the match for Anand and he did not see it. What a bad time for Anand to play instantly after Kd2.
27. Ke2 a3 28. f3 Now Magnus is back on course to capitalize on this position.
28…Rd8 I think Anand is lost now, too many weaknesses. What a turn around in this game! Incredible! h6 and a3 pawns are problematic for Anand. I am still stunned about what happened! It is not so often in this level for 2 top players to blunder back to back.
29. Ke1 Rd7 White can simply play 30. Bc1 with too many threats. a3 and h6 pawns are very fragile.
30. Bc1 Ra8 I find Anand’s plan very curious. I do not understand the idea of pushing the pawn to a3 to create another weakness. Kramnik: It looks unplayable for black. I agree with Kramnik that it is a curious choice of opening by Anand. Why would you give Magnus a chance to play his type of chess?
31. Ke2 Ba4 32. Be4+ Bc6 33. Bxg6 fxg6 White should play 33. Rxg6 Anand will be down two pawn but Bishop opposite color and some counterplay.
34. Rxg6 I now give white 80% chance of winning this game.
34…Ba4 and now 35. Rxe6 with a winning position. I do not see Anand holding this position.
35. Rxe6 and if 34…Rd1 then Bxa3. White is still winning. Kramnik: “It is very painful” when he described the miss win by Anand.
35…Rd1 36. Bxa3 Magnus is willing to give up his bishop for a bunch of pawns. No chance to hold for black.
36…Ra1 Magnus can play 37. Re7+ Ka6 38. Bxc5 bxc539. Rxh6+ Ka5. Or a simple 37. Ke3 should win easily too.
37. Ke3 Bc2 38. Re7+ Now 38… Ka6 39. Rxh6 Ka5 40. e6 Rxa241. Rh8 Ra6 42. Bc1 This is completely winning for Magnus.
And Anand resigned. The score is 3.5 – 2.5 in favor of Magnus.
This is a devastating blow for Anand. He had the win in his hands and blew it. Anand is a great champion. He came back from losses before. If he can fight like a Tiger with no fear, he still has a chance. But if Anand feels sorry/doubt himself then it’s over. Only he can right his ship. But he must fight like there’s no tomorrow!
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– GM Susan Polgar