The era of Magnus Carlsen begins

Raghunandan Gokhale What a fighting finale it was! The new World Champion Magnus Carlsen and outgoing holder Viswanathan Anand fought tooth and nail in the 10th and final game of their World Chess Championship match in Chennai yesterday. The fiery battle gutted all the pieces and left only both tired monarchs on the board. Carlsen (Norway) won the match 6.5-3.5.

The game started with Anand whipping out a sharp Sicilian defence and the spectators once again hoped for a fierce battle like Thursday. However, young Carlsen was not in a mood to play Anand on his home ground of tactical battle. He poured cold water on Anand’s plan by selecting calm Rossolimo Attack famous in the name of an American Master.

It was heading towards a drab draw like game No 8 or so thought the millions watching on TV and the Internet. Anand unintentionally enlivened things up by blundering a pawn on his 28th turn. What a shock Carlsen got. He is called anold head on young shoulders because of his liking for long games. But yesterday he exhibited his youthful haste by quickly grabbing the pawn. Had he interposed an in between move of a knight, Anand would have faced certain defeat.

Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen
Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen (right) compete in Game 10 of the World Chess Championship in Chennai yesterday. Pic/AFP.

Anand recovered the pawn and his poise simultaneously and started matching young Carlsen move by move. Yesterday, Anand showed that he could match Carlsen in his energy after four hours of play. Both were playing very sharp moves and the match attracted the very best minds from a round the world. World No 4 Hikaru Nakamura and World No 6 Fabiano Caruana entertained spectators on Internet Chess Club by their witty comments.

“Why is Magnus taking huge risks?” Caruana asked. “Finally, a win is a win whether it is 3-0 or 21-0,” Nakamura quipped. “Players like Magnus and myself like to play every game for a win — though we go about in different way.” Nakamura is known for super sharp attacks and huge risks over the board.
Finally, Carlsen sacrificed his knight for a few pawns and it became apparent that there was no win for him but a certain draw.

The celebrations started in Norway as Carlsen exchanged all the pieces and there was nothing to play with. Anand admitted that he played below his strength and gave credit to Carlsen for winning the championship by playing true to his style. Carlsen was also magnanimous in his praise of Anand. “He is one of the greatest players in history and it was an honour to play a match with him,” young Carlsen said.

Anyway, it was a sad end for Indian fans, but the world saw a deserving champion in 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen.

The author is a chess mentor and Dronacharya awardee

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