Sochi G8: An easy draw for Carlsen

by Johannes Fischer
11/18/2014 – In a match the players usually tend to play for a win with white and for a draw with black. In this sense, game eight of the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand was a success for Carlsen. He played with Black, repeated the Queens Gambit Declined from game three, but this time was excellently prepared and came to an easy draw.

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FIDE World Chess Championship Carlsen-Anand 2014

The FIDE World Chess Championship match between defending champion Magnus Carlsen and his challenger Viswanathan Anand is taking place from November 7 to 27, 2014 in Olympic Media Center located in the Adler City District of Sochi, Imeretinsky Valley, on the Black Sea.

The match is over twelve games, with time controls of 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. The games start at 3:00 p.m. Sochi Time, which is the same as Moscow time:

Moscow (Russia) 3:00:00 PM MSK UTC+3 hours
New York (U.S.A. - New York) 7:00:00 AM EST UTC-5 hours
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) 10:00:00 AM BRST UTC-2 hours
Paris (France) 1:00:00 PM CET UTC+1 hour
Beijing (China - Beijing Municipality) 8:00:00 PM CST UTC+8 hours

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Round eight

In a way game seven, played on the day before, was a psychological success for Vishy Anand. After 122 moves of pressure the challenger managed to draw with Black. In game eight Anand had White again and thus the advantage of the first move. As in his previous three games with White he sticked to 1.d4 and Carlsen again went for the Queens Gambit Declined. With 5.Bf4 Anand repeated the move which had brought him a convincing win in game three. But of course Carlsen was not particularly keen to repeat that variation and deviated with 5...0-0 6.e3 c5. The next three moves were also played quickly but judging from the manner of the players 9...Re8 by Carlsen was a slightly unusual move. After putting his rook to e8 Carlsen got up from his chair and went for a little break, while Vishy Anand thought for about twelve minutes before coming up with 10.Bg5 which again was quickly answered with 10...Be7 by Carlsen.

The World Champion at the beginning of the game...

...trying to remember his preparation.

Vishy Anand thinking about the intricacies of the opening.

A position arose in which White had more space and active pieces but no clear way to turn these dynamic advantages into something concrete. Black had to be careful but in a way his task was simpler: neutralize White's initiative, exchange pieces and equalize. Trying to find the most precise moves Anand fell behind on the clock. He finally decided to build up an imposing looking queen-bishop-battery directed at Black's king but Carlsen seemed to feel that his king was safe and continued to play quickly and confidently. After 17 moves Anand had already invested almost an hour of his time while Carlsen still was below the 15-minute mark.

Vishy Anand looks for a way to create threats.

Calmly defending: World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen's confidence proved to be justified. After a few more moves Anand found nothing better than to agree to mass exchanges leading to a completely equal endgame. After  41 moves the game was over: draw.

Daniel King shows the highlights of game 8

[Event "World Championship 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.11.18"] [Round "8"] [White "Anand, Vishwananthan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2792"] [BlackElo "2863"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {After a 122 move game that we witnessed yesterday, the players might have been a tad tired. (Maybe that showed as Magnus almost dozed off to sleep in the middle of the game today!) But for Vishy this was maybe the most important game of the match. With the White pieces he has been successful in putting pressure on Carlsen in the last three games. After the two white's, this was Carlsen's black after almost three days. Team Magnus had done their homework. Carlsen had a stoic face as the game began. Maybe he was determined not to give any chances to the challenger today.} 1. d4 {Anand sticks to what has worked well for him.} Nf6 2. c4 e6 {The third time in the match that Magnus has played the same moves. The amount of flexibility is so huge from this position that you still may not know what variation is he angling for. Is it the QGD, the Bogo Indian, the Queen's Indian, the Benoni, the Blumenfeld?} 3. Nf3 d5 {It's the QGD once again.} 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 {So far all of this had been played in the third game but now Magnus goes for the old Classical line.} c5 {Just to let you know how popular this line has been: more than 3000 games have reached this position. All the big guys of chess have played it. Kasparov has played it with White on six occasions and five times with Black. Karpov on seven occasions with white and 17 (!!) times as Black! and Kramnik 11 games as White and the same number as black. So you can say that this is surely a line played by the World Champions!} 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. a3 Nc6 9. Qc2 {This is all pretty normal. Now the main move in this position is Qa5. But with Magnus you can always expect some rare sideline in a known variation. And he doesn't disappoint.} Re8 $5 {In a position that occurred in nearly 1000 games in the MegaBase 2014, Magnus plays a move that has only been tried 32 times and never by a 2700 player! The idea of the move is very simple. Play e5 and gain space in the center. If White takes on d5 with cxd5, after exd5 the rook will be standing on a very useful half open file.} 10. Bg5 $1 {Whether this is Vishy's preparation or not is unclear but this is definitely one of the best moves in the position not only removing the bishop from the direct threat of e6-e5 but also preparing to put more pressure on d5 with the help of Rd1 or 0-0-0.} Be7 $146 {This is the first new move in the position. Carlsen must have looked at this position with fresh eyes, asking himself: "Why not Be7?" He found nothing wrong with the move and tried it. Previously d5-d4 had been played by the majority of the players. Magnus plays a move that looks pretty passive but there are a few ideas here. Black might want to go Qa5 later in reply to Rd1. As the bishop already retreated there would be no fork with b4. The computer evaluates these positions as +/=. Carlsen boldly goes into these lines and has the faith that he can neutralize White's advantage by playing accurately. On the other hand, White must be careful not to make even a small inaccuracy or the position would just peter out to equality.} ({This is a game from the Indian National Championship of 2013 where the White player played extremely well.} 10... d4 11. O-O-O e5 12. Nd5 Be7 13. Nxe7+ Qxe7 14. exd4 Nxd4 15. Nxd4 exd4 16. Rxd4 Qe5 17. Be3 $14 {1-0 (17) Lalith,B (2569)-Thejkumar,M (2452) Jalgaon IND 2013 Black has some compensation but maybe not enough.}) 11. Rd1 {The pressure on the d5 pawn begins to intensify.} (11. O-O-O $5 {Is another try. It is difficult to account for all of White's possibilities and definitely 0-0-0 looks dangerous for Black. But if your opponent surprised you, you usually do not want to go into the sharpest line.} Qa5 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. cxd5 Ne5 (13... Bxc3 14. Qxc3 $14) (13... exd5 14. Nxd5 $14) 14. Nxe5 Bxe5 15. f4 Bxc3 16. Qxc3 Qxc3+ 17. bxc3 exd5 18. Rxd5 $14 { White has pawn weaknesses but a pawn is a pawn.}) 11... Qa5 {A natural developing move that pins the c3 knight.} 12. Bd3 (12. cxd5 Nxd5 $1 13. Bxe7 Ncxe7 $11 {would give White absolutely nothing.}) 12... h6 (12... dxc4 13. Bxc4 h6 {is not just a transposition of moves. because now White has the additional option of going to f4 instead of h4 and that is a more active square} 14. Bf4 $5 e5 15. Bg3 $14) 13. Bh4 (13. Bf4 $2 {Now this is impossible due to} e5 $1 14. Nxe5 (14. Bg3 d4 $19) 14... Nxe5 15. Bxe5 dxc4 $19) 13... dxc4 14. Bxc4 a6 { In such symmetrical tructures all that counts is activity. Vishy has the more active pieces currently because all his pieces are developed. But that wouldn't last for long as Magnus is threatening to play b5 and Bb7 when the position would be close to equal. This is definitely the moment when Vishy must grab his chance.} 15. O-O (15. Ba2 $5 {was very interesting. The point is that White wants to setup the battery on the b1-h7 diagonal before Black can develop his pieces. } b5 16. Bb1 {Castling can wait. Mating the opponent's king is a much more pressing matter.} g6 {This slight weakening of the kingside might be a small victory for White.} (16... Bb7 $2 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Qh7+ Kf8 19. Rd7 $18 {is game over. You could see how Black was not in time to challenge the white rook on the d-file.}) 17. O-O (17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. h4 {might be a little bit too much as Black can go} b4 $1 19. axb4 Nxb4 20. Qe4 Nd5 $17 {and before White has even started his attack, his position is falling apart.}) 17... Bb7 $14 {White has a small edge but with the rook coming to d8, I wonder how long will it last.} 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Rd7 Qb6 $1 20. Ne4 Be7 21. Nd6 Bxd6 22. Rxd6 Rad8 $11) 15... b5 16. Ba2 {The Bishop is transferred to the long diagonal to create a battery with the queen. Combined with the bishop on h4, the entry into h7 looks quite possible but as Nigel Short rightly points out, the move Re8 has created a nice luft on f8 for the king.} Bb7 17. Bb1 {Bxf6 Bxf6 Qh7 Kf8 Rd7! is a big threat right now but it is extremely easy to parry it.} Rad8 {Black has developed fully now. Positionally there seems to be absolutely no advantage for White now. The only way he can hope for an edge is by means of concrete threats. And that is exacrly what Anand does now.} 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 {The Queen has now a direct visa to enter h7 but what will she do after that. The king is ready to run away to f8-e7. White has not much in this position.} 19. Ne4 {By this point Vishy was down to 50 minutes having used up already more than an hour while Carlsen was still in his preparation with 1 hour and 44 minutes left.} (19. Qh7+ Kf8 20. Ne4 (20. Qh8+ Ke7 $17) 20... Rxd1 21. Rxd1 Rd8 $11) 19... Be7 {Carlsen keeps everything under control. The funny thing is that a discovered attack by the e4 knight will be devastating as now there is a mate on h7 followed by Qh8, but the the bishop on e7 controls almost all the squares of the e4 knight.} 20. Nc5 (20. Ng3 {was suggested by GM R B Ramesh. This could have been tried by Anand but it is quite risky both ways. He has given up his important dark squared bishop in order to launch an attack  - but if it misfires Black lmight get a long-term advantage.} g6 (20... Bf6 $2 21. Nh5 $1 $16 {is a strong attack.}) ( 20... Kf8 $5 {might be an interesting prophylactic option.}) 21. h4 $1 Rxd1 22. Rxd1 {Anand's threat of h4-h5 of course looks very dangerous but Black has this little tricky move now} Rc8 $1 23. h5 $2 (23. Qe2 {looks best but is not in the spirit of the position.}) 23... Nd4 $1 24. Qd3 {This looks pretty scary for Black. But he can wriggle out of it.} Bxf3 25. gxf3 Nxf3+ 26. Kg2 Rd8 $1 ( 26... Nh4+ 27. Kh3 Nf5 $2 (27... Rd8 $1) 28. hxg6 fxg6 29. Nxf5 gxf5 30. Qd7 $18) 27. Qc2 Rxd1 28. Qxd1 Nh4+ 29. Kh3 Qd8 $15 {Black is totally fine.}) 20... Bxc5 21. Qxc5 {The structure of this position is akin to that of a Catalan. White would be very happy if his bishop were on g2 instead of b1. When Sopiko Guramashivili asked Peter Svidler in the commentary room whether this is the right time for Black to end his pre-game preparation, Svidler said maybe not yet. This shows that there are still some dangers lurking for Black if he doesn't play accurately but nothing much to worry for Carlsen fans, it seemed as if he was still in his preparation.} b4 $5 (21... Rxd1 22. Rxd1 Rd8 23. Rxd8+ Qxd8 24. Bc2 Ne7 {would have also equalized without much effort.}) 22. Rc1 (22. Qxa5 Nxa5 23. axb4 Nc4 (23... Nc6 $6 24. Be4 $1 $14) 24. b3 Bxf3 25. Rxd8 (25. gxf3 $2 Nd2 $19) 25... Rxd8 26. bxc4 Be2 27. Rc1 Bxc4 $11 {was the critical line that Carlsen must have worked out at home.}) 22... bxa3 23. bxa3 Qxc5 24. Rxc5 Ne7 {There is not much left in this symmetrical position. The rooks will be exchanged and a draw will be agreed.} 25. Rfc1 (25. Rc7 Bc6 ( 25... Bxf3 26. gxf3 Rd5 $11) 26. Ne5 Rc8 27. Rxc8 Rxc8 28. Nxc6 Rxc6 $11) 25... Rc8 26. Bd3 Rxc5 27. Rxc5 Rc8 28. Rxc8+ Nxc8 {Both players keep playing this position for another few moves. I do not think they had any doubts in their mind that the point would have to be split.} 29. Nd2 Nb6 30. Nb3 Nd7 {of course the knight had to be prevented from coming into c5.} 31. Na5 Bc8 32. Kf1 Kf8 33. Ke1 Ke7 34. Kd2 Kd6 35. Kc3 Ne5 36. Be2 Kc5 37. f4 Nc6 38. Nxc6 Kxc6 39. Kd4 f6 40. e4 Kd6 41. e5+ {A draw was agreed. A very important game for the theory of the QGD. The idea of Re8 and Be7 is freshly baked in Team Magnus's oven and I am sure it will be subjected to many more tests in the future. But apart from that it was a pretty dull day for the viewers as there were absolutely no fireworks. In games 7 and 8 Carlsen was the one who proved to be the better prepared player. A big blow to Anand because it was one phase of the game where he seemed better than Magnus but not anymore. The match seems to be slowly running away from the Challenger's grasp.} 1/2-1/2


M. Carlsen 2863
½ ½        
V. Anand 2792
½ ½        

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Tuesday 18.11.2014 Round 8 Daniel King, Loek van Wely
Wednesday 19.11.2014 Rest day  
Thursday 20.11.2014 Round 9 Simon Williams, Irina Krush
Friday 21.11.2014 Round 10 Daniel King, Simon Williams
Saturday 22.11.2014 Rest day  
Sunday 23.11.2014 Round 11 Chris Ward, Parimarjan Negi
Monday 24.11.201 4 Rest day  
Tuesday 25.11.2014 Round 12 Simon Williams, Rustam Kasimdzhanov

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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