Exhibiting his fantastic defensive skills and ice-cool temperament, challenger and World No 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway outwitted World Champion Viswanathan Anand once again to take decisive a 6-3 lead in their World Chess Championship Match in Chennai yesterday. After nine rounds, the world’s highest rated player has not allowed Anand to win a single game and needs just half a point for the crown.
Though it was too late to go for an outright win, Anand, to his credit, launched a heavy and desperate offensive against Carlsen’s super solid Nimzo Indian Defence. Anand adopted a set up named after German Grandmaster Fritz Saemisch. The set up was used extensively by former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik to carve out many brilliant attacking victories in his career. Anand hoped for repeating his predecessor.
Soon the game turned into a race between pawn rollers. Carlsen started pushing his pawns on the Queenside while Anand’s White army was marching towards the Black King ensconced in his safe castle. The question in everybody’s mind was whether the World Champion can break the Black defenses.
At this moment, the millions watching the drama on the internet, TV and also in the audience realised just why Carlsen is known as the ‘Mozart of Chess’.
It was simply wonderful to watch the young Grandmaster taking his Knight to the Queenside apparently oblivious to the fact that his King needed the services of that Knight for its own defences. The challenger’s knight helped his pawns to move ahead and returned in time to thwart Anand’s winning plans.
The likes of World No 2 Levon Aronian, World No 4 Hikaru Nakamura, French Grandmaster Igor-Alexandre Nataf were backing Anand to win this when Anand was thinking hard for 40 minutes on his 23rd move.
“This may be a defendable position for a computer, but I prefer White’s attacking chances,” said Nataf. Nakamura was critical of the World Champion for wasting 40 minutes on an obvious move. GM Aronian was hoping against hope that Carlsen will not find the lethal move 22… b3. “Heck! He found it,” exclaimed the World No 2. Finally, Anand blundered on his 28th turn when he played his Knight back and resigned immediately when he saw that Carlsen had his second Queen ready for defence.
It was an exciting game. Hundreds of chess enthusiasts in North and South America woke up early to watch the drama unfolding thousands of kilometers away. The magnificent Carlsen was simply too good for the aging champion! The awesome form Carlsen is displaying indicates that the match will be over today. Anand has not been able to snatch a single victory against the young challenger so far.
I remember that former World Champion Dr Emanuel Lasker of Germany lost to Capablanca 0-4 in 1921 in the only match till date when the World Champion failed to win a single game. Dr Lasker, who had reigned 27 years as World Champion till then, was 52 years old. Let us hope that Anand will win today to postpone the inevitable.
The author is a chess mentor and a Dronacharya awardee