Anand recaps Carlsen vs Caruana (1)

by Sagar Shah
12/6/2018 – The World Championship Match 2018 ended recently, to mixed reviews: Many thought the match was dull and boring, while other called it one of the best World Championships in terms of quality of play. When it comes to opinions, there can be no one better than five-time World Champion Vishy Anand. The legend has played innumerable matches for the highest title — he has been there and done that! Anand did a 31-minute video interview, in his house in Chennai, with IM SAGAR SHAH, who transcribes the key passages with live diagrams.

My Career Vol. 1 My Career Vol. 1

The first DVD with videos from Anand's chess career reflects the very beginning of that career and goes as far as 1999. It starts with his memories of how he first learned chess and shows his first great games (including those from the 1984 WCh for juniors). The high point of his early developmental phase was the winning of the 1987 WCh for juniors. After that, things continue in quick succession: the first victories over Kasparov, WCh candidate in both the FIDE and PCA cycles and the high point of the WCh match against Kasparov in 1995.
Running time: 3:48 hours


Part 1

It the was our last day of the "one-year homeless journey" that Amruta and I began on November 27th 2017, and what better thing to do than to interview the absolute best chess player of India, one of the best in the world and five-time World Champion, Viswanathan Anand. After his success at the Tata Steel Chess India Blitz 2018, Vishy has a few days off before he will once again be in action at the World Rapid and Blitz in St. Petersburg. We were able to catch him at his home in Kotturpuram, Chennai, where he spent a solid half an hour explaining all the intricacies of the Carlsen vs Caruana match. 

In conversation with Vishy Anand at his residence in Chennai | Photo: Amruta Mokal

One of the things you will learn from Vishy in this interview is that he never goes over board with his comments. He has played multiple such matches and he knows the pressure of the occasion. That's why Vishy's views on the moves as well as the psychology and behind the scenes is so very important. The video interview lasted for 31 minutes. Anand was very relaxed and spoke his mind. It was an absolute joy for the viewers of ChessBase India YouTube Channel where they could hear the thoughts of such a legend. A week out from its release we already had 92,000+ views!

Vishy Anand recaps the 12 classical games of the World Championship 2018

Replay the games with Anand's comments

As you probably know you can select games in the list below the board. If you pause the video and switch on the engine (fan button) you can even analyse with the built-in chess engine.

For readers who prefer text and diagrams here is a summary in that form. Note that in the diagrams below you can move pieces on these boards to follow the analysis.

1. Carlsen-Caruana resembles Anand-Gelfand

When asked about which of his World Championship matches resemble the Carlsen and Caruana 2018 match, Vishy felt that the closest was the one between him and Boris Gelfand. In that match as well there were a lot of draws, but the players also exchanged a pair of decisive results, while Carlsen vs Caruana match had all 12 classical games ending in draws.

Anand won the World Championship Match against Gelfand in the rapid tiebreaks 2½-1½

2. The first critical position that we discussed


"It is very strange that Magnus did not win this position. Magnus' own hero [a younger version of himself -Ed.] from five years ago would have won this position quite easily!"


"It was one of the big misses of the match. What was striking is that Magnus' play until this point had been exemplary. Everyone praised him. Before cashing in he could have slowly improved his position. I would only put one caveat in this situation — it is very easy to sit at home and say this is how you should have done. God knows I have spoilt many winning positions as well. It's not my aim to make light of this. But it's a missed opportunity. There is no way around this."

3. Anand's take on 10...Rd8 by Caruana

"I had looked at it, I had notes on it, but evidently Fabiano went much further. I know that Hikaru looked at it as well because we had discussed it briefly. It was good opening work."


"This is the sort of thing that should happen at a World Championship match. You have so much time, you can go really deep and clean some stuff and play not even the most fashionable move. I don't think it was 'one-game stuff'. I think Fabiano intended to repeat it if Magnus went Rd1 again."

4. The ...Bc5 line in the reversed Dragon


"I guess …Nb6 and …Be7 (1.c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6 followed by Be7) is still leading if you look at the total number of games. I wouldn’t say that …Bc5 is completely taking over, but if you see, last year I played this line against Fabiano at Saint Louis, then there was the famous Dubov-Karjakin discussion here. And so it flared up and then dropped out of the radar for a while. But after this match, I think this is just going to be one of the main lines."

Not to be missed: the game that Anand mentions about Dubov vs Karjakin is analyzed in depth by Dubov in this video captured by ChessBase India

5. The pawn sacrifice in Rossolimo

"The pawn sacrifice b4 is well known and the theme is also well known. Not only this game but also Fischer-Spassky where Bxc6 bxc6 was met with b4. Even what Caruana played in this game has been played before. I would expect both sides to be well prepared, obviously Fabiano because he played it, but also Magnus seemed to know it well."

6. New ideas in the Petroff

"You try to play these unusual moves to get a game. But even these unusual moves you can analyze with a computer. You have heard this famous conversation between Grischuk and Kovalev that Grischuk had looked at the sequence that happened in the game with Nf4-Nd5 and Black going Nc6-Nd4 (laughs)."


"It's quite funny that they had gone that far! [After the moves 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nd3 Nxe4 5.Ne2 Ne7 6.Nf4 Nc6 7.Nd5 Nd4 8.Nxe7 Nxe2 9.Nd5 Nd4 10.Na3 Ne6 11. f3 N4c5]"


"Grischuk knew it was dead and it was not a big deal. When it works it works. There are cases when you play harmless stuff but your opponent doesn't know it and you get something. Fabiano's preparation has been thorough. But we won't know because Magnus has probed very little. He has just probed the surface, whereas Fabiano has stuck to one thing and kept on chipping away. We know now that Carlsen's Rossolimo preparation was very good, but the Sveshnikov preparation in the Nd5 lines gives the feeling of slightly improvised."

"When it works, it works" —Vishy Anand | Photo: Amruta Mokal

7. How difficult it is to find the move ...Bh4!

Caruana played 68...Nf3 and the position was eventually drawn. But he had chances to win if he had played 68...Bh4. We asked Anand about how difficult or easy it was to find the win here for Black?



"Obviously, it was not easy. I haven’t even delved into it entirely. But the piece up position was not a forced win, which means that White could have used his bishop better to corral the knight in some other way. I saw Svidler’s recap of this ending and I have forgotten the details. The funny thing is that Svidler while doing the recap was also saying that I have to check my notes and corresponding squares! It’s a very difficult ending. But I think I understand the position after …Ng1 pretty well now."


"As Black, you need to lose a move here. So after h6 Kh8 h7 you go Bh4 Kh5 (or Kh6) then Be1 Kg6 Bc3 Kh6 (The bishop cannot move as then the knight comes out) Bd2 Kg6 Bg5!"


"And now I have transferred the move to you. This bishop loop is winning and it is always winning because Black can always lose a move by extending the loop! So this is not one of those mutual zugzwang things. This is one of those positions where White can be very clearly brought into a zugzwang. But I have not exactly grasped why it was drawn one move ago and why bishop on c4 is not well placed. This bit I have to go over once again slowly and try to understand. But it's fascinating. Suddenly you discover something new about an ending."

8. Is the study of such an ending useful for a player like Anand?

"Yes, some positions are just interesting enough that you must study them. It is conceivable that someday I might have a similar position on the board and this knowledge might be useful in some vague way. But, I am not necessarily studying it to score points. (smiles)."

Continued in part two...

Special thanks to ChessBase India for providing this video. There are hundreds of videos on their very successful ChessBase India YouTube Channel, and we are going to make vigorous use of them in the future.

ChessBase India is also very active on social media: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2018 02:16
@ Nostalgiac1972:

"Magnus has proved to be just the world rapid or blitz champion."

Not really "blitz champion", as he won his last two titles in the Rapid games section.

And the ultimate paradox is that, in fact, Carlsen isn't really either the "world rapid champion", because the real World Rapid Champion is Anand, who won the 2017 World Rapid Championship! (And Carlsen was participating, so Anand didn't even win it "by default"...) This highlights rather well the lack of logic of the present system, in my opinion...
Nostalgiac1972 Nostalgiac1972 12/6/2018 12:46
Magnus has proved to be just the world rapid or blitz champion. in classical games he has hardly shown anything further than his challengers. He squanders winning positions as easily as the challengers may do. In a long series of classical games, say a match of 24 games, he is well as possible to falter. This match format suits him best and he makes maximum use of it: drawing, drawing, and drawing in classical part, and then winning in the rapids or blitz. He has made quite a habit of it. Today preparations have become very deep and more chance is required to be given in classical part to see who finally makes the decisive mistake and loses. 12 classical games are just funny. This needs to be changed, although you need to look behind the scene to find out who are the main stakeholders of the current format.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2018 12:17

"No body even Anand can deny the fact that it was one of the dullest and boring world championships ever played not to mention the first world championship recorded with no classical wins."

I am wondering if we followed the same match...

I think that those who say that this match was "boring" are biased; they see "12 draws", and they aren't able anymore to assess objectively the contents of the games...

But I think that a match without any decisive result is nonetheless a problem; as discussed under other ChessBase articles, possible solutions are a longer match (16 or 18 games, for example, as suggested by Carlsen himself) and suppressing the tiebreaks (the simplest solution being to use the "draw odds to the Champion" rule, but other quite satisfying solutions have been discussed) so as to have the match decided in classical games and not Rapid or Blitz games.
semprun semprun 12/6/2018 11:37
I would have loved to have his comments after the tiebreaks. Thanks for the interview, it was very enjoyable
jupe jupe 12/6/2018 10:35
Hi Sagar! Please write up about his home decor! For instance, whose photos are framed on that wall in the background? :-D
psamant psamant 12/6/2018 07:53
"Yes, some positions are just interesting enough that you must study them. It is conceivable that someday I might have a similar position on the board and this knowledge might be useful in some vague way. But, I am not necessarily studying it to score points. (smiles)."

To me, this is the critical part. For the really passionate players, whether great ones like Anand or even for the mediocre ones, the pleasure and fun of studying chess is more than enough! That drives you like no material gain would ever manage.
ARK_ANGEL ARK_ANGEL 12/6/2018 05:44
No body even Anand can deny the fact that it was one of the dullest and boring world championships ever played not to mention the first world championship recorded with no classical wins. Next most bored one is Anand - Gelfand
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2018 04:33
Excellent!! I will make good use of every bit of this!

Many thanks to Anand and Sagar Shah!