11 November 2014

Anand - Carlsen, Game 3

Despite what I said in my previous post (see Fischer's IM/GM Titles) about game two of the Carlsen - Anand match -- that I'm spending too much time watching the games -- I wasn't able to watch the third game, except for one glimpse at the beginning of the game and another after two hours. Today is a public holiday in Belgium and my wife had other ideas about how to spend the day.

When I finally had time to watch later, the game was already over but I was pleased to see that Anand had won. (I don't have a favorite in this match and would be happy if either player won. Most important is to have a good match.)

How had he won? I located the PGN for the game and loaded it into an engine. It didn't take an engine to tell me that Black was totally busted when Carlsen resigned on move 34. Where was the game's most critical moment?

After move 20, White looked to have an edge, with a well protected passed Pawn on c7. Playing over the next few moves convinced me that White's advantage was already close to decisive, so I went back to the position after move 10. Here White also looked better, with a space advantage and active pieces. It looked like Anand had caught Carlsen in the opening, probably as the result of superior preparation.

Who had varied first from game one? It was Carlsen. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4, he played 2...e6 instead of 2...g6, then transposed into a Queen's Gambit with 3.Nf3 d5. Anand set the further course of the game with 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4

I switched over to Chesslab.com and discovered that the position through 15.Nb5 had been played in seven games, after which the players followed a 2013 Aronian - Adams game. Anand was the first to vary from that game with 20.fxe4. A screen capture from the official site for the match, sochi2014.fide.com, shows the thinking times for that critical stretch. Carlsen spent more than 30 minutes on his 17th move.

Anand's play also slowed down at the same point. What were the two players thinking about? I wish I knew.

For the full game, see Viswanathan Anand vs Magnus Carlsen; Carlsen - Anand World Championship 2014 (game 3) on Chessgames.com.

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