- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The outcome of the world championship match now just past the halfway point in Chennai, India, may have been sealed in Saturday’s Game 6 in what rates as a truly multicultural moment: a Norwegian defeating an Indian in a Spanish Game through the use of the Chinese water torture.

Young Norwegian challenger Magnus Carlsen, imperturbable, indefatigable. implacable and irresistible when he obtains the tiniest of advantages, took a commanding lead in his scheduled 12-game match with defending champion Viswanathan Anand of India with a second straight arduous endgame win. After Carlsen easily equalized in a 32-move draw Monday, Anand trails 4½-2½ and could soon relinquish the title he has held for the past six years.

At 22, Carlsen is 21 years younger than the champ, but he plays like an old soul, eschewing flashy opening play and perfectly content to play on in near-lifeless positions in the hopes of grinding down his opponents late in the playing session. It’s a style of play that calls for immense stamina and concentration, for even one lapse can let an opponent escape.

After four draws to open the match, Carlsen employed his slow-cooker method to perfection in Game 5 and 6, earning victories when the champion finally cracked under relentless pressure in two straight difficult endgames.

Game 5, played Friday found both players with chances in the complex middlegame that arose from the sharp Noteboom Variation of the QGD.

While Anand was on the defensive for the most of the game, he found a nice way to activate his pieces with 34. R1f2 Rd4! (Carlsen admitted he missed this move) 35. Rh6 Bd1 36. Bb1 Rb5. Even though Black gives up a pawn at the first time control at Move 40, the activity of his pieces should have let the champion hold the draw after 40. Rxg5 Rxb3+ 41. Rxb3 Bxb3 42. Rxe5+ Kd6 43. Rh5 Rd1 44. e5+ Kd5 45. Bh7 (see diagram), when the post-mortem showed that the game is level after 45…Ra1! 46. Bg8+ (Rg5 Rxa3 47. Bg8+ Ke4 48. Bxb3 Kf4 49. Rh5 Rxb3+ 50. Kc4 Kg4 51. Rh7 Kf5) Kc6 47. Bxb3 Rxa3! 48. Kc4 Rxb3 49. Rh6+ Kd7 50. Kxc5 Rb2, and the rook ending is drawn.

Instead, Anand’s shaky 45…Rc1+? 46. Kb2 Rg1 47. Bg8+ Kc6 48. Rh6+ Kd7? (the final mistake; Black should keep the king near the White a-pawn with 48…Kb5 or 48…Kc7) 49. Bxb3 axb3 50. Kxb3 Rxg2 51. Rxh4 Ke6 52. a4 Kxe5 53. a5, and Black can’t restrain the White pawns on opposite edges of the board. Anand soon resigned.

Psychologically, Game 6 proved a second helping of the same dish, with Anand again failing to hold a drawish endgame in the face of Carlsen’s constant pressing. Anand as White varies from the tack he took in Game 3, also a Ruy Lopez Berlin that ended in an absorbing 56-move draw. Black equalizes rather easily and the position appeared to be heading for a draw, but Carlsen managed to saddle his opponent with a pair of weak, isolated e-pawns and, once again, begins hammering away at the target.

In what looks to be a good practical decision, White gives up a pawn to reach a pawn-down rook ending, but one where it appears Black has little chance of a decisive breakthrough: 38. Qg3!? (hard to tell if this was inspiration or panic — White could have hunkered down for a long time with more passive play) Rxe4 39. Qxd6 Rxe3! (keeping alive his one hope for a win; 39…Qxd6+?! 40. Rxd6 Rxe3 41. Rd5 b4 42. cxb4 Rb3 43. b5 Rxb2 43. Rc5 is a dead draw) 40. Qxe7 Rxe7 41. Rd5 Rb7, and Carlsen is in his element, free to press for the next 50 moves or so for a win with no danger of a loss.

Anand’s realization that he was once again in the clutches of a Nordic anaconda may explain why he once again proves unequal to the defensive task. Black succeeds (with Anand’s help on 50. Kh3?!) in pinning the White king to the side of the board, and his only winning chance is a coordinated push of the f- and h-pawns in the hopes of obtaining a winning passed pawn.

Black bravely lets his queenside pawns go by the wayside and the critical position appears to be 59. Rxc4 f4, when the cold-blooded computer move 60. b4!, getting White’s own passed pawn in gear, may just hold in lines such as 60…h3 61. gxh3 Rg6 62. b5 f3 63. Rc7. Instead, Anand’s 60. Ra4? does nothing to improve his rook’s placement while losing valuable time.

In the finale, after h3 61. gxh3 Rg6 62. c4 f3 63. Ra3+ Ke2 64. b4 f2 65. Ra2+ Kf3 66. Ra3+ Kf4 67. Ra8 Rg1, White’s pawns are not far enough down the board after 68. Rf8+ Ke3 69. Re8+ Kd3 70. Rd8+ Kc3 71. Rf8 f1=Q 72. Rxf1 Rxf1 and wins; Anand resigned.

Game 8, with the challenger having the advantage of the White pieces, will be played Tuesday.

Carlsen-Anand, Game 5, FIDE World Championship, Chennai, India, November 2013

1. c4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Nc3 c5 7. a3 Ba5 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. Be3 Nc6 10. Qd3 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Ng4 12. O-O-O Nxe3 13. fxe3 Bc7 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Qxd8+ Bxd8 16. Be2 Ke7 17. Bf3 Bd7 18. Ne4 Bb6 19. c5 f5 20. cxb6 fxe4 21. b7 Rab8 22. Bxe4 Rxb7 23. Rhf1 Rb5 24. Rf4 g5 25. Rf3 h5 26. Rdf1 Be8 27. Bc2 Rc5 28. Rf6 h4 29. e4 a5 30. Kd2 Rb5 31. b3 Bh5 32. Kc3 Rc5+ 33. Kb2 Rd8 34. R1f2 Rd4 35. Rh6 Bd1 36. Bb1 Rb5 37. Kc3 c5 38. Rb2 e5 39. Rg6 a4 40. Rxg5 Rxb3+ 41. Rxb3 Bxb3 42. Rxe5+ Kd6 43. Rh5 Rd1 44. e5+ Kd5 45. Bh7 Rc1+ 46. Kb2 Rg1 47. Bg8+ Kc6 48. Rh6+ Kd7 49. Bxb3 axb3 50. Kxb3 Rxg2 51. Rxh4 Ke6 52. a4 Kxe5 53. a5 Kd6 54. Rh7 Kd5 55. a6 c4+ 56. Kc3 Ra2 57. a7 Kc5 58. h4 Black resigns.

Anand-Carlsen, Game 6, FIDE World Championship, Chennai, India, November 2013

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. Re1 a6 8. Ba4 b5 9. Bb3 d6 10. Bg5 Be6 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Bh4 Bxb3 13. axb3 Nb8 14. h3 Nbd7 15. Nh2 Qe7 16. Ndf1 Bb6 17. Ne3 Qe6 18. b4 a5 19. bxa5 Bxa5 20. Nhg4 Bb6 21. Bxf6 Nxf6 22. Nxf6+ Qxf6 23. Qg4 Bxe3 24. fxe3 Qe7 25. Rf1 c5 26. Kh2 c4 27. d4 Rxa1 28. Rxa1 Qb7 29. Rd1 Qc6 30. Qf5 exd4 31. Rxd4 Re5 32. Qf3 Qc7 33. Kh1 Qe7 34. Qg4 Kh7 35. Qf4 g6 36. Kh2 Kg7 37. Qf3 Re6 38. Qg3 Rxe4 39. Qxd6 Rxe3 40. Qxe7 Rxe7 41. Rd5 Rb7 42. Rd6 f6 43. h4 Kf7 44. h5 gxh5 45. Rd5 Kg6 46. Kg3 Rb6 47. Rc5 f5 48. Kh4 Re6 49. Rxb5 Re4+ 50. Kh3 Kg5 51. Rb8 h4 52. Rg8+ Kh5 53. Rf8 Rf4 54. Rc8 Rg4 55. Rf8 Rg3+ 56. Kh2 Kg5 57. Rg8+ Kf4 58. Rc8 Ke3 59. Rxc4 f4 60. Ra4 h3 61. gxh3 Rg6 62. c4 f3 63. Ra3+ Ke2 64. b4 f2 65. Ra2+ Kf3 66. Ra3+ Kf4 67. Ra8 Rg1 White resigns.

Carlsen-Anand, Game 7, FIDE World Championship, Chennai, India, November 2013

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 Bg4 7. h3 Bh5 8. Nf1 Nd7 9. Ng3 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 g6 11. Be3 Qe7 12. O-O-O O-O-O 13. Ne2 Rhe8 14. Kb1 b6 15. h4 Kb7 16. h5 Bxe3 17. Qxe3 Nc5 18. hxg6 hxg6 19. g3 a5 20. Rh7 Rh8 21. Rdh1 Rxh7 22. Rxh7 Qf6 23. f4 Rh8 24. Rxh8 Qxh8 25. fxe5 Qxe5 26. Qf3 f5 27. exf5 gxf5 28. c3 Ne6 29. Kc2 Ng5 30. Qf2 Ne6 31. Qf3 Ng5 32. Qf2 Ne6 Draw agreed.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.