Monday, November 17, 2014

Game 7 Carlsen- Anand

Game Seven

Whoof!  About the longest game that I've ever sat through "live". The first 25 moves were theory and reeled off very quickly by both players. The last 20-odd moves were almost superfluous. In-between, we saw a deeply technical endgame with a lot of buried tactics. Both players displayed great accuracy not only in terms of calculation but also in terms of judgement. Neither made a discernible error.
The draw by exhaustion was a reasonable result. Carlsen tried everything, carrying on playing to the point of near-absurdity. Anand defended steadily and took activity when it was on offer, to ensure that his match chances stayed alive.
At the post-game press conference, the challenger actually looked happier than the champion but then, Carlsen rarely looks very happy. In terms of energy, this marathon would certainly have taken a  fair amount out of them both. If you believe the neurologists, they would have blown over 3000 calories each in those seven hours. The energy accounting goes in Carlsen's favour, given the 20-year age-handicap.
The end-result begs the question though.
Why did Anand play this way?
What did he miss, if anything?
If the Sicilian Paulsen needed shoring up after Game Six, the Berlin is certainly a reasonable try. The opening is one of those heavily theoretical monsters arising from the Spanish Berlin. The queens come off early; white concedes the two bishops, a pair of rooks is exchanged, opposite-coloured bishops arise. White sacrifices a pawn to tie up the black pieces. It's more a Carlsen type of position than an Anand type of position.

But Anand knows this specific position very well and he's played both sides of it (including against Carlsen) multiple times. On move 25, Anand even produced the first novelty. He improved on a game, Giri Radjabov Tashkent 2014  when he pulled out 25.-- Nf7.
On move 28,  Anand thought for 28 minutes (1691 seconds to be precise) before he came up with Ne5!? That committed black to the piece sacrifice and maybe the position is objectively drawn after that. But black has to grovel through an interminable defence.
There must be better ways to play the position with some improved plan for black somewhere between move 26-28. One point worth mentioning is that Kramnik originally championed the Berlin against Kasparov back in 2000 because these positions are not amenable to easy computer analysis.
It is possible that Team Anand just decided this position was playable and he opted to work things out at the board. As Anand said at the PC, he couldn't find more pleasant options faced with the threat of Nh5 and Nf4 so, he chose to defend this.
Some interesting moments 

Diagram after 18.-- Nxh4 Apparently the obvious 19 bxc7 Nf3+ 20. Kg2 Bg4 21. Rd3 h4 22. Ne4 has been analysed out to as a drawish endgame. This is only true if both players know how to play endgames of course since there is plenty of play left in the position. 

Diagram after 20. -- Rxd1. If white plays 21. Rxd1?! Nxf3!? 22. Kxf3 Bg4+ 23. Ke4 Bxd1 24. Nxd1 is once again supposed to be a drawish endgame. Black's rook achieves some mobility with g7-d7 and it's difficult to coordinate White's pieces to play on both sides of the board. It is worth noting that this sort of position is deadly with either colour against a poor endgame player - it is materially unbalanced and it requires strong calculation as well as good positional sense.
That sort of endgame is one reason why the Berlin can be a killer defence against any player below master level. Essentially, black cuts down on the chances of being steamrolled because queens are exchanged early. The resulting endgames are imbalanced, with white holding some edge. But if white doesn't know how to play it, black can take over. But at 2750-plus, the winning chances with black are close to zero.

Diagram after 25. Rh7. White's a pawn down. It scarcely matters. His 2-1 majority is much more dangerous than black's mangled 4-2. The opposite coloured bishops are good for white, helping develop the initiative. Giri-Radjabov Tashkent continued 25... f5 26. g5 Nf7 27. Rh5 Rg8 with a draw. But 26. Rxc7! Nb5 27. gxf5 Bxf5 28. Rxb7 Bxc2 29. Ne3 Bb3 30. Ng4 and white has substantial advantage. Black's king is trapped on the eighth and it could be hit by three pieces via say, Be5-Nf6. Also white's passed pawn counts for something.  
 Anand improved on Radjabov with 25.--Nf7. Now if 26. Bxc7 f5 easily equalises. 

Diagram after 28. Ng3. This is where Anand thought hard and played 28.--Ne5.
The engines suggest 28..-Kd7 But 29. Nh5 Kc6 30. Bg3! is very nasty (30. Bxc7 Kxc7 31. Nf4 Rh6 32. Nxe6+ Kd6 33. Rxf7 Kxe6 34. Rxb7 Rh2 is equal). After 30. Bg3 Nd6 31. Nf4 or 31. Bh4 are both close to winning.  

Diagram after 31. Rh5 Anand played 31.-- Bxg4! This is probably the best move according to him and Carlsen. The engines disagree due to a horizon effect.

After the alternate 31...Rf8 32.Ke3 Bd5 33.Ne4 Bxe4 34.Kxe4 Rf4+ 35.Ke3 Rb4 36.Rxe5 Rxb2 37.Rxc5 b6, the following position is reached

(Analysis diagram) White's free passed pawns will run faster.   

Diagram after 33.--b6
Carlsen thought this Rook+Kt Vs R endgame is winning. He does have two pawns, which are difficult to eliminate.  But he can't force black to open up his fortress and Anand found exact active defensive lines to hold on. It would take days of analysis to dissect the endgame. Suffice it to say that consensus opinion including engines and top players is that it is drawn and best play was seen by both sides. 

One of the themes for black is to keep the rook as far away (preferably h-file) as possible to avoid chances of being forked. Another theme that arose later was to look for King penetration via b6-a5-b4. There are some stalemate lines with Black Ka5, Ps on a6,b4,c5.c6  and White's Kt on d7. When white plays c4, with Kt on b2 black has to respond with b5 ASAP. The theme of checking along first/second rank until the white king moves away from c2,b3 is also important to the defence.
For the attack, it would be nice if a dual attack could be launched on c7, via say Re7, Ne8/ Nd5. That might force concession. Black prevented this happening without the concession of c4 (to support d5). Once the c-pawn moves, the white king is vulnerable to checks and also pawn exchanges are forced.

Diagram after 56.-- Rh4. White finally plays c4 because he can't see any other way to support d5. Black reorganises his pawn structure to control d5. 

Diagram after 67. Re4. The checking mechanism with Rg1+/g2+ forces the White king to e1 and then 70--bxc4! dissolves into drawishness. 

Diagram after 70.--bxc4 

The alternate 71. bxc4  Kb4 is relatively trivial with a draw after 71.bxc4 Kb4 72.Nb8 (or 72.Kd1 a5) 72...Ra2 73.Nxc6+ Kc3 74.Na7 Ra4 holds.

Footnote:  The pure R+Kt Vs R endgame is supposedly an almost-trivial draw. Black's defensive algorithm  is to check until the Kt is pinned and not allow his king to be forced to the edge of the board. Amazingly Carlsen won this endgame once against GM Erwin L'Ami at Corus. And, of course he's entitled to play on till exhaustion as he did.

The Game for reference
WHITE: Carlsen ,Magnus  BLACK: Anand ,Viswanathan  [C67]
Game 7, WCM Sochi 2014, 17.11.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5 Rh6 14.g3 Bxg5 15.Bxg5 Rg6 16.h4 f6 17.exf6 gxf6 18.Bf4 Nxh4 19.f3 [19.Bxc7 Nf3+ 20.Kg2 Bg4 21.Rd3 h4 22.Ne4]
19...Rd8 20.Kf2 Rxd1 21.Nxd1 [21.Rxd1 Nxf3 22.Kxf3 Bg4+ 23.Ke4 Bxd1 24.Nxd1]
21...Nf5 22.Rh1 Bxa2 23.Rxh5 Be6 24.g4 Nd6 25.Rh7 Nf7

An improvement [25...f5 26.Rxc7 (26.g5 Nf7 27.Rh5 Rg8 Giri-Radjabov Tashkent 2014) 26...Nb5 27.gxf5 Bxf5 28.Rxb7 Bxc2 29.Ne3 Bb3 30.Ng4 White is better]
26.Ne3 Kd8 27.Nf5 c5 28.Ng3 Ne5!?
 The alternative defence with [28...Kd7 29.Nh5 Kc6 30.Bg3 Nd6 31. Nf4 is close to being a win for white (30.Bxc7 Kxc7 31.Nf4 Rh6 32.Nxe6+ Kd6 33.Rxf7 Kxe6 34.Rxb7 Rh2+ 35.Ke3 Rxc2 is drawn)]

29.Rh8+ Rg8 30.Bxe5 fxe5 31.Rh5 Bxg4 [31...Rf8 32.Ke3 Bd5 33.Ne4 Bxe4 34.Kxe4 Rf4+ 35.Ke3 Rb4 36.Rxe5 Rxb2 37.Rxc5 b6]

32.fxg4 Rxg4 33.Rxe5 b6 34.Ne4 Rh4 35.Ke2 Rh6 36.b3 Kd7 37.Kd2 Kc6 38.Nc3 a6 39.Re4 Rh2+ 40.Kc1 Rh1+ 41.Kb2 Rh6 42.Nd1 Rg6 43.Ne3 Rh6 44.Re7 Rh2 45.Re6+ Kb7 46.Kc3 Rh4 47.Kb2 Rh2 48.Nd5 Rd2 49.Nf6 Rf2 50.Kc3 Rf4 51.Ne4 Rh4 52.Nf2 Rh2 53.Rf6 Rh7 54.Nd3 Rh3 55.Kd2 Rh2+ 56.Rf2 Rh4 57.c4 Rh3 58.Kc2 Rh7 59.Nb2 Rh5 60.Re2 Rg5 61.Nd1 b5 62.Nc3 c6 63.Ne4 Rh5 64.Nf6 Rg5 65.Re7+ Kb6 66.Nd7+ Ka5 67.Re4 Rg2+ 68.Kc1 Rg1+ 69.Kd2 Rg2+ 70.Ke1 bxc4 71.Rxc4 [71.bxc4 Kb4 72.Nb8 (72.Kd1 a5) 72...Ra2 73.Nxc6+ Kc3 74.Na7 Ra4]

71...Rg3 72.Nxc5 Kb5 73.Rc2 a5 74.Kf2 Rh3 75.Rc1 Kb4 76.Ke2 Rc3 77.Nd3+ Kxb3 78.Ra1 Kc4 79.Nf2 Kb5 80.Rb1+ Kc4 81.Ne4 Ra3 82.Nd2+ Kd5 83.Rh1 a4 84.Rh5+ Kd4 85.Rh4+ Kc5 86.Kd1 Kb5 87.Kc2 Rg3 88.Ne4 Rg2+ 89.Kd3 a3 90.Nc3+ Kb6 91.Ra4 a2 92.Nxa2 Rg3+ 93.Kc2 Rg2+ 94.Kb3 Rg3+ 95.Nc3 Rh3 96.Rb4+ Kc7 97.Rg4 Rh7 98.Kc4 Rf7 99.Rg5 Kb6 100.Na4+ Kc7 101.Kc5 Kd7 102.Kb6 Rf1 103.Nc5+ Ke7 104.Kxc6 Rd1 105.Rg6 Kf7 106.Rh6 Rg1 107.Kd5 Rg5+ 108.Kd4 Rg6 109.Rh1 Rg2 110.Ne4 Ra2 111.Rf1+ Ke7 112.Nc3 Rh2 113.Nd5+ Kd6 114.Rf6+ Kd7 115.Nf4 Rh1 116.Rg6 Rd1+ 117.Nd3 Ke7 118.Ra6 Kd7 119.Ke4 Ke7 120.Rc6 Kd7 121.Rc1 Rxc1 122.Nxc1



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