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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

World Chess Match Game 3 Sochi 2014: Anand wins, Levels Score

Hello chess blog friends, Indian chess fans had a thrilling Tuesday as five-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand pulled off a solid win to level the score with reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen in Game 3 of the Sochi World Chess Match 2014. Here is the nice summary report of Game 3, via the official website, by Vladimir Barsky:

The champion and the challenger were in a different mood before the day off, but planned to spend it similarly – to have a rest and to do some sport. Magnus accomplished his goal, according to the twitter of Tarjei Svensen: “A very bad day for Magnus Carlsen in Sochi today. He lost a basketball match”. However, that defeat was a mild setback compared to what happened later on the board.

Chess fans were really looking forward Anand's second game as White. Will he manage to create problems for his fearful opponent, utilizing his advantage in opening preparation? During the previous match Carlsen usually managed to skip the opening stage, relying on his advantage in the middlegame and the endgame. 

After the players fired away 16 moves in 10 minutes, the former World Champion Alexander Khalifman visited the press-center. The comment of the respected theory expert:

“As expected, Magnus changed the opening. He went for the Gruenfeld in the first game, but it was more of a probe, because this opening does not really suit him. In today's game he returned to a more classic way of handling the game, picking the Queen's Gambit. And then it suddenly got interesting. The debated variation is currently considered one of the cornerstones of the QGD. It occurred several times at the Petrosian Memorial just a couple of days ago, but every time Black played 7…Nh5 to get rid of the dark-squared bishops, which is a safer option. Kramnik played it against Aronian and made a draw. Magnus, however, went for 7…с6. Not that it's weak, but it initiates a forced line, which is in my opinion unpleasant for Black. White sacrifices a pawn, creating a strong passed pawn on с7. 

I analyzed this variation extensively, and I think Black barely holds, often by various tactical tricks. I repeat, there is no highway to a draw, just many trails, and everywhere Black must invent something to survive. This is why Black stopped allowing this variation: he cannot regain the initiative, and any mistake can lead to a disaster. But maybe Magnus analyzed it thoroughly, and we will see some beautiful forced draw...”

“Alexander, what are your impressions from the first two games?”

“Anand somewhat lacks confidence. As expected, he is not at his peak early in the match. It is too early to draw definite conclusions about the level of preparation and play, but he is clearly lacking confidence. Both times he lost concentration immediately after the opening. And this makes the third game even more interesting. The players quickly played a lengthy theoretical line, which means Vishy will have more time for the critical moments of the game. The opening is clearly in his favor.”

“You carried out a presentation of a new chess variant on the day off. Could you tell us more about it?”

“Tensorchess in an amusing game that seems interesting to me. The younger generation might like it – there is no volumes on the opening theory in tensorchess, which is a big advantage. And although the 8x10 boards are not available, tensorchess already has its computer app.”

The 10th World Champion Boris Spassky, who attended the presentation, looked with amusement at the rectangular board with a brand new piece on it – a monster! – but said he will stay with regular chess. Our game is still a mystery in many ways, but if some people like inventing things – sure, why not?

During the third game Boris Vassilyevich visited the Dvorkovich Saloon and had a lecture for the young participants of the Tournament of champions. It wasn't even a lecture, more of a collection of stories: a childhood during the war, matches with Petrosian, meetings with Fischer, both in real life and in his dreams... When Spassky finished his speech, there was a long line of children seeking autographs. 

However, let us return to the key event in Sochi. Carlsen kept thinking, and it became apparent that we are not going to see a beautiful forced draw. Here is the conclusion of the 7-time Russian champion Peter Svidler:

“Everybody thought that an excellent opening preparation will be one of the main trumps of Vishy. And today it worked for real. In the first game Anand was also better prepared, but the resulting position was unclear, and White's advantage evaporated after his first slight inaccuracy. Today we saw an even sharper and more concrete line, and despite Magnus changing the opening, Vishy was better prepared as well. As a man who avoids analyzing the QDG for the last three years (I spent way too much time on it in 2011, helping Alexander Grischuk at the candidates matches), I cannot suggest a correct reaction for Black. A year ago I played this position as White against Topalov, and I looked into it for a while, but I forgot the details. This is an extremely concrete line, where you must know the correct move orders, or the c7-pawn becomes a huge problem for Black. I can only say that Sopiko Guramishvili and I expected recapturing on d5 with a pawn. Magnus, however, took with a rook and created more problems for himself. Keeping the rook on the a-file, where it supported the passed pawn, looked more natural. However, this position is so concrete that speaking in terms of natural-unnatural just makes no sense.

Upon obtaining an advantage, Vishy carefully and accurately converted it into a full point. It was noticeable that he tried hard not to rush things and not to look at the clock at all. A very important victory by Anand! The match basically starts over.”

“It went wrong from the start and I didn't have a chance. But I'll get a new chance and can strike back tomorrow”, said Magnus. He also added: “When something goes wrong, it's always my fault.”

Anand was very happy to find 26.Rc6! Answering the question about the depth of his preparation, he said that 24.Qb6 was still his book. After 29.Qa6! Black's position is collapsing, and after 30...e5 Anand had no doubt about his win, but tried to remain calm until the end. By the way, Vishy confirmed that he also had a sporting day off, hitting the gym. Then he spent about 3-4 hours preparing for the game.

Carlsen confessed that he was surpassed in the opening preparation. The Norwegian said he saw 24.Qb6, but thought he could neutralize the opponent's initiative. However, after 26.Rc6! it became clear for him that his position is hopeless.

“Would you say that the Tiger is back?”, asked a Norwegian journalist. Anand laughed:

“There are many games ahead. The next game is tomorrow, so let us not rush it.”

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