Reliving the World Championship 2013 – Part one

by Sagar Shah
11/2/2014 – Just five more days and then it's here: the World Championship "return" match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, in Sochi, Russia. To get you into the mood for what's coming Sagar Shah looks back at the 2013 encounter and analyses what went wrong in Chennai for Anand. His two-part review includes some incredibly deep analysis of the games.

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Reliving the World Championship 2013

By Sagar Shah

On 9th November 2013, Anand and Carlsen sat opposite each other to begin the World Championship match. On one side was an experienced campaigner who had been nearly invincible in World Championship play. On the other was a 22-year-old kid who had stunned the world by reaching a stratospheric 2870 on the Elo charts. Everyone dubbed the match a battle of Youth versus Experience. We all know how the match went. But let’s go down the memory lane to see what exactly went wrong for Vishy Anand.

FIDE President Kirsan Illyumzhinov makes the first move of the 2013 match

Game 1: Lack of confidence

Carlsen,M (2870) - Anand,V (2775) [D78]
FWCM2013 (1), 09.11.2013

Position after move 16.Qa3

The first huge mistake by Anand came as early as 90 minutes into the match. In the above position he agreed to a draw after easily equalising as Black. Though objectively the position is equal, he could safely continue with the move 16…b6 and put Carlsen under pressure. After all Carlsen was playing the World Championship match for the first time in his life. He was definitely jittery at the start. Anand could have struck right then, but instead he took a safe draw. Someone rightly said, “If Carlsen was Black here, he would never have agreed for a draw. 0.5-0.5.

Game 2: Not taking the courageous path

Anand,V (2775) - Carlsen,M (2870) [B19]
FWCM2013 (2), 10.11.2013

Position after 17...Qd5

Anand as White could have continued the fight with Qg4. Instead he took on d5 which was a pretty timid decision. Carlsen was playing extremely fast up to that point and Anand did not want to test the Norwegian’s preparation. A quick draw and Anand missed his chance to press as White. But what was worse, Anand apologized to the spectators at the press conference for the lack of fight. Playing on home turf had surely put a lot of pressure on him. 1.0-1.0.

25 minutes was all that Magnus needed to make a draw with Black pieces

Game 3: Botching up a winning advantage

Carlsen,M (2870) - Anand,V (2775) [A09]
FWCM2013 (3), 12.11.2013

Position after 29.Rxe3

As many of you might remember, Anand had to be bold here and pick up the b2 pawn. It was not so easy to calculate everything but post game analysis proved that Anand had a nearly decisive advantage. The Indian player had his chance but once again didn’t go for the most principled continuation and instead played 29…Bd4. Magnus miraculously escaped. 1.5-1.5.

He felt that Bxb2 would give White a lot of counterplay, but it was a moment
when his intuition betrayed him

Game 4: Virtuoso defence

Anand,V (2775) - Carlsen,M (2870) [C67]
FWCM2013 (4), 13.11.2013

Position after 35.Ne4

Magnus was close to winning game four. He had Anand on the ropes. But Anand rose like a Phoenix. 35.Nf2-e4 was one of the most brilliant defensive moves I have ever seen in my life. In an extremely difficult position he came up with sacrificing the g4-pawn. He could sense that his activity will be sufficient to create a lot of hurdles in Carlsen’s path to victory. He was right and the game ended in a draw. A huge sigh of relief for the Indian fans. 2.0-2.0.

Though Carlsen was a little sad that he did not convert the position, this game gave
him the required confidence that he could wrest the World Champion’s title from Vishy

Game 5: The decisive game

Carlsen,M (2870) - Anand,V (2775) [D31]
FWCM2013 (5), 15.11.2013

Position after 45.Bh7

That’s how tough it is in a match. After 45 moves of being pushed onto the defensive, Anand had his chance here to secure a draw with 45…Ra1! Instead he chose 45…Rc1+ and was convincingly outplayed in the endgame. As said by Anand many times later, this was the crucial game of the match which changed the flow in Carlsen’s favour. Carlsen leads 3.0-2.0.

The first blood was drawn, Anand give up, Carlsen leads

That’s how popular Magnus is!

Replay the annotated games from rounds 1-5

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

– Part two with games 6-10 will follow shortly –



Sagar 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 chess news outlet in the country.