Welcome to Anand – Carlsen Sochi World Championship game 8 (LIVE commentary by me).

Thanks for joining me. After 7 games, the score is 4 – 3 in favor of Magnus. Yesterday we witness the longest game of the match. The players banged out moves very quickly early on. When it seemed that we may be headed for the quickest draw, complication arise and it became the longest game, 122 moves!

Facing a difficult position, Anand defended very well for over 6 hours to earn the valuable 1/2 point. Now there are 5 games left and Anand has 3 white games. This is his chance to try to even up the match. Can he do it?

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.

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A difficult decision for Anand of how hard to push in this game. He’s only behind 1 pt with 5 to go. If he over pushes & it backfires, the match is practically over. This is why he must be aggressive but play for two results. No need to gamble. Nothing crazy to self destruct. Go with the flow and play with confidence.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 And we have a Queen’s Gambit today.

4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. a3 Nc6 This is the old way of playing this line. Anand has two options. 0-0-0 and have a sharper game. Or 0-0 and go for d5 isolated pawn. Anand has to decide how much risks to take.

9. Qc2 Re8 This has to be home prep from Magnus. With this move, black has a threat of e5 then d4. White should probably play 10. Bg5 not to allow black a tempo with e5.

10. Bg5 Be7 In this position, 11. 0-0-0 has to be in consideration. 11. Rd1 is another option if he doesn’t want a sharper game.

11. Rd1 Qa5 was immediately played by Magnus. This clearly shows that the idea of 9…Re8, 10…Be7 then 11…Qa5 sequence was well prepared.

12. Bd3 h6 was immediately played by Magnus. He is playing mind games with Anand. He’s telling Anand that I’m well prepared for my stuff.

13. Bh4 and again Magnus was quick to respond with

13…cxd4 14. Bxc4 Anand’s position is very pleasant. Black must try to get his c8 bishop to b7 via a6 then b5. In spite of playing into Magnus’ home prep, Anand has a good and very comfortable position. White is better. I also prefer white.

14…a6 Anand should just simply 0-0. White is doing well. Nothing to worry about.

15. 0-0 as expected. And now Magnus has to continue the plan of b5 to get his bishop to b7. +=

15…b5 Anand should put his bishop on a2.

16. Ba2 If 16…b4 then 17. Ne4 then white is doing very good. Therefore, better for Magnus to play 16…Bb7.

16…Bb7 The idea of 16. Ba2 is also to put it on b1 with the Qh7 threat down the line. I expect Anand to take his time here. He has to decide how to proceed. Many choices in this critical moment.

17. Bb1 Rad8 I like 18. Ne4 for Anand now, to get rid of the guard for the h7 square.

18. Bxf6 Bxf6 And now 19. Ne4 is coming next. Anand still has an edge.

19. Ne4 Be7 Anand will probably play Nc5 to get rid of one bishop. Otherwise, black’s bishop pair is too strong.

20. Nc5 Bxc5 21. Qxc5 Even though white seems to have space advantage, black should have no problem at this point.

21…b4 Magnus is well prepared. White has not much here. This game is headed to a draw.


22. Rc1 bxa3 23. bxa3 And now Queens are coming off the board.

23…Qxc5 24. Rxc5 Black has nothing to worry about here. The game should end in a draw. Just as yesterday, the game seems to head toward a quick draw. But last game went to 122 moves so you never know with Magnus 🙂

24…Ne7 25. Rfc1 Rc8 26. Bd3 Red8 White has a slight slight edge but easy draw. The question is will Anand push all the way or will he choose to save energy?

27. Rxc8 And now Magnus should recapture with Rxc8. 99.99% draw. IMO, I think Anand should push, even with no chance to win, just to make a psychological statement that he is not afraid.

27…Rxc8 28. Rxc8 Nxc8 29. Nd2 Nb6 30. Nb3 Threatening 30. Nc5. Black can stop it with 31…Nd7

30…Nd7 31. Na5 Bc8 32. Kf1 Black is fine. But white has nothing to lose for pushing. Still 99.99% draw.

32…Kf8 33. Ke1 I have no problem if players play until K v K. It’s how chess should be played.

33…Ke7 34. Kd2 Kd6 35. Kc3 Ne5 36. Be2 Kc5 Not much has changed with my impression of the outcome. Still 99.99% draw.

37. f4 Nc6 38. Nxc6 Kxc6 39. Kd4 f6 40. e4 Kd6 Anand has nothing to lose for pushing. He is still slightly better. But do not expect a decisive result.

41. e5+ and they agreed for a draw. 1/2 


I would have played on here. But Anand decided to save energy for game 9. No big deal.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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