But such exciting draws! Carlsen tried the Reti Opening again in Game Three, but this time got less than nothing. Anand was pressing for most of the game, though it seems that Carlsen always had enough counterplay to draw. The crucial moment is shown below:



White’s queen is looking a bit sad, and it is clear that black has some advantage. Now the famously materialistic computer recommends the cold-blooded 29. … Bxb2, eating the free pawn and scoffing at white’s obvious counterplay down the e-file. Instead, Anand played the calmer 29. … Bd4. He eventually won a pawn, but white was able to untangle and hold the draw. They certainly played it out to the bitter end, though. Here’s the final position:



In Game Four Carlsen eschewed the Caro-Kann in favor of the Berlin Variation of the Ruy Lopez. In this line, black accepts a passive position with weakened pawns, in return for a solid structure with real counterattacking potential if white overreacts. Here’s the crucial moment:



Shades of Fischer-Spassky! Carlsen, playing black, grabbed the pawn on a2. But doesn’t that succumb to the old trap where white moves the pawn to b3, trapping the bishop and preparing to round it up? Not this time! Play continued 18. … Bxa2 19. b3 c4 20. Ndc1 cxb3 21. cxb3 Bb1



and the bishop escapes. So white is just down a pawn. It’s not so clear if this was an oversight on Anand’s part, or whether he intentionally sacrificed a pawn. He certainly has some counterplay, since black is still passive and white can play on both sides of the board. In the end, Anand was able to complicate things sufficiently to hold onto a draw.

So, all tied up after four. Eight more games to go!

Comments

  1. #1 MNb
    November 15, 2013

    The weird thing is that White ’til now has created zero winning chances and had to stretch to avoid a loss.

  2. #2 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 15, 2013

    Anand just face-planted in Game Five. It looks like he misplayed a drawish endgame, but I haven’t had a chance to go over it yet.

  3. #3 MNb
    November 15, 2013

    I just played over the game but I understand zilch. After the exchange of queens Anand has the pair of bishops in a fairly open position and still he loses.

  4. #4 MNb
    November 16, 2013

    The match is done; Anand is creamed.

  5. #5 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 18, 2013

    Yeah, it’s pretty hard to come back from back to back losses. Especially against Carlsen.

  6. #6 Reginald Selkirk
    November 22, 2013

    Carlsen wins, the crowd goes wild!

  7. #7 JimR
    November 24, 2013

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304337404579209980222399924
    is an article by Chabris and Goodman in the weekend Wall Street Journal about the use of computers in training chess masters to higher levels of play.

  8. #8 Bill McNeal
    November 27, 2013

    Hi Jason, I wonder if you would comment on the last couple games in the match. Particularly the 9th game; I feel that Nakamura’s comment on how taking the b-pawn & swapping rooks was not correct strategically is spot on. To me this was Anand’s last chance to get back in the match. I don’t think a draw w/ white would’ve kept him going psychologically. Any thoughts? Thx.

  9. #9 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 29, 2013

    Things have been so hectic this term, I even got behind on my chess blogging. It’s pretty hard to argue with Nakamura. It looks like Anand was actually winning at one point in the last game, but his lapses of calculation just killed him in several games. Carlsen deserved to win, and Anand is pretty clearly not the monster he used to be.

    Pretty interesting match, I’d say. I wonder how long Carlsen will keep the title? I wouldn’t be surprised if he just loses interest in chess at this point. I’ll do a proper blog post when I return from my Thanksgiving break.