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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

World Chess Match Game 7: Fortress Master Anand unfazed by Carlsen Grind

Hello chess blog friends, former world chess champion Viswanathan Anand knew just what he was doing when he gave away a Bishop for two pawns in Game 7 at the World Chess Championship versus Magnus Carlsen this Monday!

The game marked the second half of the match so Magnus Carlsen got to play two games with White in a row. Magnus stuck to 1.e4 and, since Anand did not try the Sicilian, the game steered into the Berlin with Magnus sticking to theory. 

However, the game tempo did not slow down even after Anand's novelty – clearly such course of events did not surprise Carlsen. White sacrificed a pawn, obtaining very active pieces in return – his rook was on the 7th rank, and the knight settled on f5. Anand thought for 35 minutes on his 31st move and made a very committal decision to sacrifice his bishop for two pawns, intending to set up a fortress. Later at the press conference the former World Champion said he found this plan at the board, although he had seen similar positions successfully defended before.

Carlsen's task was to trade the rooks and keep his two pawns from exchanges. However, it was hard to achieve, as the black rook was not allowing the white knight settling in the centre, while supporting с2-с4 would expose the white king. Eventually Carlsen was forced to put a pawn on c4, because he could not make progress otherwise, but Black advanced his pawn to b5 and activated the king, threatening to exchange all the pawns. Soon Anand managed to simplify the position, achieving a book draw with a rook against a rook and knight.

The World Champion kept playing, trying to utilize minimal practical chances for a win. However, Anand demonstrated the required accuracy, and the game ended in a draw on the 122nd move, just three moves short from breaking the record for the longest World Championship game. The fifth game of the match between Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi in Baguio, 1978, ended in a draw in the 124th move.

Magnus said at the press conference that he was convinced that there would be a way to win the endgame after black's sacrifice. However, soon he realized that he could not make progress without pushing c4, which gave Black counterplay.

Vishy Anand was asked if it was frustrating to defend for so long. “It is not frustrating if I get a draw in the end”, replied the ex-World Champion.

The score in Carlsen-Anand match is now 4-3 in Carlsen's favor. The eighth game is played on Tuesday, November 18th, at 15:00. Anand has White. Admission is free of charge. The official website of the championship broadcasts live grandmaster commentary in Russian and English. (Official website) Replay the game with Chess King.

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