A horrible new addiction enters my life: live World Championship Chess.
The Anand/Carlsen match is being played in India, but now you can watch it live on the Internet with streans of analysis and expert Grandmaster commentary as each game proceeds. See eg on Chessdom the Hindustan Times site. Open Chessbomb in a separate tab and you have more than enough.
In this match there are no Russians! So instead we have youthful Norwegian Magnus Carlsen taking on the reigning world Champion from India, Vishy Anand.
Garry Kasparov beat Anand back in 1995 in the 10th game of their World Championship match with a series of unexpected pyrotechnic sacrifices.
Kasparov later told me that he had prepared this variation before the match with his team, but they and the (then) computer had ruled it out as there was not enough compensation for the sacrficed material. However, Kasparov had had an instinct that there might be a way through the jungles of options and had told them to leave the computer whirring away overnight.
In the morning they found that the computer had pointed the way to a winning line. Watch Game 10 with commentary here. Just wonderful. It is not diminished by the fact that much of the opening brilliance was pre-prepared – both sides were exploring opening variations, and Kasparov still had a lot to do to convert the advantage into a spectacular win. Plus today’s computers no doubt would have found the key variations in seconds, not hours.
That of course pales into insignificance compared to the legendary 1985 Kasparov ‘Octopus’ game against Karpov. Kasparov manages to install his knight deep in Karpov’s position and it then squeezes Karpov to death, covering eight squares at once.
What happened today?
Carlsen had White. He did nothing to win in particular, but did everything to win in general.
Anand emerged from the opening skirmishes with rather more small pawn weaknesses, but nothing that was obviously vulnerable to attack. Perhaps fearing that he would be ground down or perhaps just pushing too hard for a win, he ended up with his rooks in front of his pawns in what looked like a dangerous attack on the White king. But Carlsen patiently defended, covering the key weak squares in his own position. Anand found himself over-extended, and resigned in a hopeless simplified endgame as Carlsen drove forward two passed pawns.
Play through the game here. The Queens are swapped off early on (move 15) and the position looks flat and dull. But that’s why these two people are at the top of the world game – they found ways to start accumulating tiny small advantages until finally Carlsen prevailed. It was as if he had just seen deeper into the position and ‘really’ knew what was likely to happen.
This is only a 12-game match. Back in my day the World Championships were 24 games or until one player accumulated 12.5 points. But Carlsen who is now the highest-ever ranked player looks to be unbeatable – Anand now has to strive for a win, and that will leave him open to Carlsen’s deep dark error-free manoeuvring.