2014 World Championship Match, Part 1

Sun, 2014-11-16 19:41 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "WCh 2014"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2014.11.12"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Carlsen, M."]
[Black "Anand, V."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B40"]
[WhiteElo "2863"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "94"]
[EventDate "2014.11.08"]
[Source "ChessPublishing"]
[SourceDate "2013.03.07"]

{In this blog post I'll examine Games 4-6 of the World Championship Match (for
those of you who haven't followed the match, the score was 1.5-1.5 after three
games with Carlsen and Anand trading blows in Games 2 and 3).} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3
e6 3. g3 {White avoids the Open Sicilian in favour of a King's Indian Attack
setup, but with a little twist.} Nc6 4. Bg2 d5 (4... Nf6 5. Qe2 d6 6. O-O Be7
7. c3 O-O 8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 d5 10. e5 Ne4 11. Nbd2 Nxd2 12. Bxd2 {is the main
alternative, which isn't so bad for Black but you could argue that a Sicilian
player would not go for a French structure voluntarily.}) 5. exd5 exd5 6. O-O
Nf6 7. d4 $1 {This is the twist! White hits in the centre to effectively
saddle the opponent with an IQP.} Be7 8. Be3 cxd4 (8... O-O 9. dxc5 Ng4 10. Bd4
Nxd4 11. Qxd4 {is a rather critical pawn grab so Black releases the tension.})
9. Nxd4 Bg4 $1 {An important move as after} (9... O-O $6 10. h3 $1 {the Black
bishop on c8 can't find an active post and White will follow with Nc3 and a
small edge thanks to the pressure against the IQP. You might notice it's
basically a Tarrasch Defence but with the pawn on e2 moved to c2.}) 10. Qd3 Qd7
11. Nd2 O-O {Black managed to develop all his minor pieces to active squares
and thus he has no problems. Still, it's a normal position where anything can
happen.} 12. N2f3 (12. Rfe1 Rfe8 13. c3 {and N2b3 would have been my
preference, though it probably doesn't make a real difference.} (13. Qf1 $5 {
looks funny but is quite interesting to prepare h3 harassing the g4-bishop.}))
12... Rfe8 (12... Bd6 $5 {immediately was also a move.}) 13. Rfe1 {Obviously
both sides want to control the open e-file.} Bd6 14. c3 h6 $1 {A good move,
with the idea of improving the bishop's placement with ...Bh5-g6.} 15. Qf1 Bh5
{Prophylaxis against ideas of h3 Bh5 Nh4 and g4 trying to trap the bishop.} (
15... a6 16. h3 Bh5 17. Nh4 Nxd4 18. Bxd4 Ne4 19. Bxe4 dxe4 20. g4 Bg6 21. Nxg6
fxg6 {however is still fine for Black as White's pawn structure got as damaged
as Black's, and his king is quite open too (always important in queen + rook(s)
positions)}) 16. h3 $6 {Call me harsh but I wouldn't have let the bishop get
to the b1-h7 diagonal where it controls a lot of useful squares.} (16. Nh4 {
would be normal and actually after} Bc5 17. Nhf5 Bg6 18. Nxc6 (18. Bh3 Qc7 19.
Nb5 Qb6) 18... Qxc6 19. Bxc5 Qxc5 20. Nd4 {White manages to get some advantage
thanks to the favourable exchange of minor pieces, though Black's position is
entirely defensible after} Rxe1 $1 21. Rxe1 a6 {.}) 16... Bg6 {Now Black's
game is even easier.} 17. Rad1 Rad8 18. Nxc6 ({Keeping the position as is with
} 18. a3 {was also possible. Then the position remains equal.}) 18... bxc6 19.
c4 Be4 (19... Bb4 20. Re2 Ne4 21. cxd5 cxd5 22. a3 Ba5 23. Bd4 {is also equal,
although it's slightly easier for Black to play.}) 20. Bd4 Nh7 (20... Re6 {is
more natural.}) 21. cxd5 Bxd5 22. Rxe8+ Rxe8 23. Qd3 {Black's last few moves
were a bit inaccurate and White suddenly has some pressure because of the
isolated queenside pawns.} (23. Qa6 $14 {is also tempting, intending to
collect a queenside pawn.}) 23... Nf8 (23... Qb7 24. b3 Be7 {was a good
alternative.}) 24. Nh4 Be5 25. Bxd5 (25. Bxe5 Rxe5 26. Qc3 Re2 {gives Black
enough piece activity to compensate his structural deficit.}) 25... Qxd5 26.
Bxe5 Qxe5 27. b3 Ne6 {Now the position is very simple in nature and about
equal, though White can always claim a symbolic edge because of his better
structure.} 28. Nf3 (28. Kg2 {s a move but it doesn't change the position
significantly.}) 28... Qf6 29. Kg2 Rd8 30. Qe2 Rd5 $5 {An interesting idea,
offering the exchange on Black's terms so he gets a passer.} 31. Rxd5 cxd5 32.
Ne5 Qf5 $1 33. Nd3 Nd4 {Black is getting a little play but White has it
covered.} 34. g4 Qd7 (34... Nxe2 35. gxf5 Kf8 36. Kf3 Nc3 {is a completely
equal knight ending.}) 35. Qe5 Ne6 36. Kg3 Qb5 (36... d4 {was also good for
total equality. The passed pawn stops White's knight wreaking havoc.}) 37. Nf4
Nxf4 38. Kxf4 Qb4+ 39. Kf3 d4 $1 {Sacrificing a pawn, but it's all part of the
plan.} 40. Qe8+ Kh7 ({Of course not} 40... Qf8 $4 41. Qxf8+ Kxf8 42. Ke4 $18)
41. Qxf7 Qd2 $1 {Black may be a pawn down but he holds easily because he is
the only side with a passed pawn and the White king struggles to protect
itself against incessant checks.} 42. Qf5+ Kh8 43. h4 Qxa2 {By now it's very
clear that this will be a draw one way or the other.} 44. Qe6 Qd2 45. Qe8+ Kh7
46. Qe4+ Kh8 47. Qe8+ Kh7 {Although it may seem like a pretty normal draw, I
felt Vishy gained a definite match initiative as a draw with Black is always a
good result and it showed Carlsen wanted to avoid critical openings.} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "WCh 2014"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2014.11.14"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Anand, V."]
[Black "Carlsen, M."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E15"]
[WhiteElo "2792"]
[BlackElo "2863"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2014.11.08"]
[Source "ChessPublishing"]
[SourceDate "2013.03.07"]

{I was quite interested to see what Carlsen would come up with for this game
as his previous experimentation in the Queen's Gambit Declined did not end
well.} 1. d4 ({Naturally Anand didn't want to repeat the Chennai Berlin Wall
experience of} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {.}) 1... Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6
4. g3 Bb4+ $5 {A rare line which however has recently become quite popular at
the GM level as a drawing weapon.} 5. Bd2 Be7 (5... Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 Ba6 7. b3 c6
{is the really boring but also quite annoying interpretation.}) 6. Nc3 Bb7 7.
Bg2 c6 {This is played to prepare ...d5 as} (7... d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. O-O O-O
10. Nxd5 exd5 11. Bf4 $14 {gives White healthy Catalan pressure with Rc1 and
Qa4 coming up to target the queenside pawns.}) 8. e4 $1 {Anand takes up the
challenge!} d5 9. exd5 cxd5 10. Ne5 O-O 11. O-O Nc6 {By the way, this is also
a quite theoretical position with the White pawn on b3 instead of b2. It's
hard to say if it makes a big difference.} 12. cxd5 (12. Bf4 Na5 $1 13. Rc1
dxc4 14. Bxb7 Nxb7 15. Nxc4 Na5 $1 16. Nxa5 bxa5 $11 {is pretty solid for
Black - the pawns may be doubled but that gives Black the b-file for
counterplay and also the d4-pawn is a little tender too.}) 12... Nxe5 13. d6 $1
{A nice idea from the Anand camp, which gives White some pressure, but the
question is whether he can turn that into a permanent advantage.} Nc6 (13...
Bxg2 14. dxe7 Qxe7 15. dxe5 Bxf1 16. exf6 Qxf6 17. Qxf1 {picks up material -
while the queens are on the board, two minor pieces usually beat a rook and
pawn.}) 14. dxe7 Qxe7 15. Bg5 (15. Qa4 Na5 {feels less natural from White.})
15... h6 {Certainly Black didn't want to wait around for d5 or Ne4.} 16. d5 $1
{The only try to create something as otherwise Black will blockade d5 and
leave White without dynamic chances (which the IQP position requires).} Na5 (
16... Rad8 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. dxc6 $1 Rxd1 19. Rfxd1 Bc8 20. Nb5 $1 $44 {is a
very strong queen sacrifice - the c6-pawn is extremely strong and will
entirely tie up Black's pieces to stop it queening.}) 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. dxe6 (
18. Qe2 exd5 19. Nxd5 Bxd5 20. Bxd5 Rad8 21. Rad1 Nc6 {gives White the
symbolic advantage of bishop vs. knight on an open board, but even that is
hard to make anything of with Black lacking any pawn weaknesses.}) 18... Qxe6 (
18... fxe6 19. Bxb7 Nxb7 $14 {is playable but Black would have to suffer for
another 50 moves nursing the weak e6-pawn.}) 19. Re1 {A strong move; instead} (
19. Bxb7 Nxb7 20. Qf3 Nc5 21. Rfe1 Qg6 22. Nd5 Kh8 {leaves White without a way
to make use of his marginally more active pieces; there's always the idea of
exchanging queens with ...Qd3 for instance, or harassing the pawns with ...Qc2.
}) 19... Qf6 20. Nd5 $1 {The start of a very nice idea, which requires precise
play for Carlsen to neutralise.} Bxd5 (20... Qxb2 21. Re2 Qa3 22. Re3 Qb2 23.
Rb1 Qxa2 24. Ra1 Qc4 25. Rxa5 bxa5 26. Ne7+ Kh8 27. Bxb7 Rae8 28. Bf3 {is
clearly better for White, for the reason I mentioned in the previous rook vs.
minor pieces position we saw.}) 21. Bxd5 Rad8 22. Qf3 $1 {Daring Black to take
on b2.} Qxb2 $5 {And he does! It looks very risky but Black probably just
forces a draw with this continuation, if we're talking completely objectively.}
(22... Qxf3 23. Bxf3 Nc4 24. b3 Nd2 $3 25. Bg2 Rd7 $11 {is an incredible
engine idea as the knight can't be won on d2 despite being trapped, and ties
up White's rooks. White has no real way to make progress.}) 23. Rad1 Qf6 $1 {
Black really needs to get some pieces off to eliminate White's initiative.} (
23... Rd7 24. Qf5 Rc7 25. Be4 g6 26. Qf4 Rfc8 27. Qxh6 {starts to get a little
scary and after} Qf6 28. Bd5 $36 {White is clearly pressing.}) 24. Qxf6 gxf6
25. Re7 Kg7 {To avoid the threat of Bxf7!} 26. Rxa7 (26. Rc7 $1 {is the
computer's suggestion to dominate the knight but it's a pretty remarkable idea.
Play might continue} f5 27. Kg2 Rd6 28. Bf3 Rxd1 29. Bxd1 a6 30. Ra7 Rb8 31.
Rxa6 Nc6 $14 {and while Black can probably draw with best play it certainly
isn't a guarantee in practice.}) 26... Nc6 27. Rb7 (27. Ra4 {stops ...Nb4 but}
Rd7 28. Rg4+ Kh8 {is holding for Black.}) 27... Nb4 28. Bb3 Rxd1+ 29. Bxd1 Nxa2
30. Rxb6 Nc3 {Now with all the pawns on one side of the board it's a trivial
draw.} 31. Bf3 f5 32. Kg2 Rd8 33. Rc6 Ne4 34. Bxe4 fxe4 35. Rc4 f5 36. g4 Rd2
37. gxf5 e3 38. Re4 Rxf2+ 39. Kg3 Rxf5 {And drawn. The match initiative didn't
really change with this game as Carlsen didn't really equalise out of the
opening but Anand also didn't make much of his small edge (if he could in the
first place).} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "WCh 2014"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2014.11.15"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Carlsen, M."]
[Black "Anand, V."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B41"]
[WhiteElo "2863"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2014.11.08"]
[Source "ChessPublishing"]
[SourceDate "2013.03.07"]

{In the most recent game (at the time of writing) Carlsen managed to defeat
Anand, but not before a severe double oversight and other strange happenings...
} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 {So this is what Vishy had in mind..
.} 5. c4 {This line is an old favourite of mine, and if Black doesn't have a
good alternative to what he got in the game, I may well return to it...} Nf6 6.
Nc3 Bb4 (6... Qc7 {is the main alternative for Black, aiming for Hedgehog
positions with} 7. a3 b6 8. Be3 Bb7 9. f3 d6 10. Be2 Be7 {, for instance.}) 7.
Qd3 $1 {It's quite nice that White is better here as I used to think Black was
absolutely fine. Clearly Anand thought so as well.} Nc6 (7... Qc7 8. a3 $1
Bxc3+ 9. Qxc3 Nxe4 10. Nb5 $1 axb5 11. Qxg7 Rf8 12. Bh6 Qc5 13. f3 $18 {is a
nice trap I once saw a young Anton Smirnov catch out Junta Ikeda with. Both of
them have improved a lot since then :)}) (7... d5 8. exd5 exd5 9. Be2 O-O 10.
O-O Nc6 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. cxd5 Qxd5 {may suit the minimalists
but White is better and doesn't risk anything after} 14. Qg3 ({or} 14. Qxd5
cxd5 15. Rd1 $14)) 8. Nxc6 dxc6 (8... bxc6 9. e5 {could be somewhat unpleasant.
}) 9. Qxd8+ (9. e5 {is the alternative but it's hard to argue with Carlsen's
choice which inconveniences Black's deployment.}) 9... Kxd8 10. e5 Nd7 (10...
Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 Nd7 12. Bf4 {transposes to the game.}) 11. Bf4 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 {
Some former World Champions (Kramnik and Kasparov) felt that Anand's opening
choice was quite poor and certainly it looks like a Carlsen sort of position -
small edge (bishop pair and space), no risk, and enduring pressure. A long
grind is in store, or a short grind if Black collapses early! But let's not
get too cocky...} Kc7 13. h4 b6 {I can't fault Anand's next few moves but he
ends up in a difficult position which means an improvement is probably needed
earlier.} 14. h5 h6 {This structure is a bit like a Caro-Kann Capablanca
Variation where the pawn on h5 fixes the whole Black kingside. And here we
have the e5-pawn to boot!} (14... Bb7 15. h6 g6 {seems a pretty big concession
even if I can't refute this line instantly.}) 15. O-O-O Bb7 16. Rd3 $1 {Way
more shrewd than the inhibiting} (16. f3 c5 17. Bd3 {suggested by the comp.})
16... c5 17. Rg3 Rag8 18. Bd3 Nf8 {This is a very passive defence by Black,
and yet it isn't at all easy to crack.} 19. Be3 g6 {A more detailed analysis
might prove me wrong but I think Black could have held with a passive defence:}
(19... Bc6 20. Rh4 Be8 (20... g6 21. hxg6 Nxg6 22. Rh5 {is the game with an
extra tempo.}) 21. Rhg4 $6 {(in reality White would improve his position more
before going into this)} g5 22. f4 f5 $1 23. exf6 Bxh5 24. f7 Bxf7 25. fxg5
hxg5 26. Rxg5 Rxg5 27. Rxg5 Kd7 $14 {and Black should be able to draw though
it's still a bit unpleasant because of the bishop pair and passed g-pawn. But
it isn't in Anand's nature to defend passively; he will always grab a chance
to activate his pieces in a worse position.}) 20. hxg6 Nxg6 21. Rh5 Bc6 (21...
Kc8 {is the suggestion of the computer, and indeed a very clear improvement in
Black's position, especially if followed up by ...Kc7.}) 22. Bc2 Kb7 23. Rg4 (
23. Kd2 $5 {makes sense here now that it doesn't blunder two pawns.}) 23... a5
24. Bd1 Rd8 25. Bc2 {This shuffling might make it look like White doesn't know
what to do but in reality repeating the position like this is a good way to
stamp your control over the game.} Rdg8 26. Kd2 $4 {A fairly basic blunder for
these guys but there is an explanation - White clearly has total control of
the position and his big advantage is not going away, and Black has no
counterplay. So it is easy to forget that sometimes the opponent can play an
aggressive move...indeed, see the reply.} (26. Rg3 $16 {first was correct, and
then everything is in order for the king advance.}) 26... a4 $4 {I think the
only reason Anand missed this move is because he didn't expect such a 'gift'
in what is otherwise a terrible position.} ({If you don't understand what the
commotion is about, check} 26... Nxe5 $1 27. Rxg8 ({or} 27. Rgh4 f5 28. Rxh6
Rxh6 29. Rxh6 Nxc4+ 30. Ke2 Bd5 $19) 27... Nxc4+ 28. Kd3 Nb2+ 29. Kd2 Rxg8 {
and two extra pawns should be enough to win (though Carlsen wasn't so sure in
the press conference).}) 27. Ke2 {Now White is back in control and actually
his situation even improved as his king is well placed for kingside action.} a3
{Hoping for tricks with the advanced a-pawn one day (say if a2 falls) but it's
a pipe dream right now.} (27... Ne7 $5 28. Rxg8 Rxg8 29. g3 Rg4 30. Bf4 Ng6 31.
Bd2 $16 {is also much better for White but at least Black gets some activity.})
28. f3 Rd8 29. Ke1 {White can even make a waiting move and Black is still
completely tied up. Perhaps Black can draw with perfect play, I don't know,
but it's extremely unpleasant to play such a prospectless position for several
hours.} Rd7 30. Bc1 $2 (30. Ke2 {is probably best.}) 30... Ra8 $2 {Black errs
back; clearly the realisation of the blunder earlier plagued both players'
thoughts.} (30... Rhd8 $1 31. Be3 (31. Bxh6 Rh8 $1 {is an extremely awkward
pin.}) 31... b5 32. cxb5 Bxb5 33. c4 Ba6 34. Bxc5 Rd2 35. Bb3 R8d3 $14 {gives
Black very real counterplay, and good chances for a draw.}) 31. Ke2 Ba4 (31...
Ne7 {was suggested after the game by the players but} 32. Rxh6 Ba4 33. Be4+ Nc6
34. Rg7 {should be winning for White unless I'm missing some ingenious
fortress possibility.}) 32. Be4+ Bc6 $6 {Perhaps only here is where it really
is dead lost for Black.} (32... Ka7 $1 33. Bxa8 Kxa8 34. Bxa3 Rd1 35. Rxh6 Ra1
36. Ke3 Nxe5 37. Rg7 Nxc4+ 38. Kf4 Nd6 $16 {gives Black some compensation for
the exchange although White's winning chances should still be very high.}) 33.
Bxg6 fxg6 34. Rxg6 {Now it is quite easy to collect the pawns on h6, e6 and a3
and dampen all Black's hopes.} Ba4 35. Rxe6 Rd1 36. Bxa3 Ra1 37. Ke3 Bc2 38.
Re7+ {There's nothing more to see here so Black gave up. Quite a dramatic game
which will probably have a decisive impact on the result of the match too -
Anand could have taken the lead by exploiting Carlsen's blunder but instead it
is Carlsen who is up 3.5-2.5 and has White for Round 7. Still, with six games
to go the match is hardly over, so I'll catch you next week with the
subsequent proceedings!} 1-0 [/pgn]