Sochi: As the popular phrase goes, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
But in a match for the World chess title, the sooner you get even, the better it gets. Ask Viswanathan Anand and he would smile and nod in agreement.
After using up Monday’s rest day thinking of ways to turn the tables on Magnus Carlsen in the third game of the World chess title-match at Sochi, a well-prepared Viswanathan Anand came up with an awesome display to score in 34 moves. The 12-game mach now stands level at 1.5-1.5. In the fourth game on Wednesday, Carlsen plays white.
Anand’s masterly win, the first over Carlsen in Classical time format in four years, has also squared their head-to-head win-loss record at 7-7. This was also the third time that Anand had levelled the match-score in a world title clash after trailing. Against Veselin Topalov in 2010 and Boris Gelfand in 2012, Anand bounced back from deficit to keep the crown.
Playing from the white side of Queen’s Gambit Declined, Anand was on the offensive straightway. If Carlsen thought changing his response to Anand’s queen-pawn opening with something other than the Grunfeld Defence adopted in Game One, he was surprised by the challenger’s preparedness.
Later, Carlsen was quick to acknowledge his conqueror. “It was obvious that he (Anand) was better prepared than me. I made a poor choice of opening today. I can’t do much worse than that.”
Anand, “obviously very happy to win” revealed, “I’d seen the position as far as Qxb6 (Move 24) and even beyond.” He revealed that he was prepared for “3-4 hours” on Monday. “I spent sometime preparing, sometime to unwind and went to the gym.”
Though Anand mentioned the game played at Bilbao between Levon Aronian and Michael Adams, there was another game that looked similar to the one the Indian won.
The sequence of moves, until Anand’s 26th turn, followed the one between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Alexander Riazantsev played in theRussian Superfinals in 2008. In fact, in that game, Tomashevsky emerged victorious in 36 moves.
Playing at a pretty brisk pace, Anand was quick to temporarily sacrifice a queenside pawn in order to push the queen-bishop pawn to the seventh rank by the 14th move. That also meant Carlsen could not help to move his queen away from the square that blocked Anand’s advanced pawn from becoming a ‘queen’. Soon, except the dark-squared bishops, the other minor pieces were off the board.
Anand, almost blitzing his moves compared to Carlsen who consistently fell back on the clock, slowly enlarged what began as a minisculeadvantage out of the opening. He got back the pawn once his queen got into the thick of action. A castling on the kingside allowed Anand’s other rook to take care of any possible threats from Carlsen’s queen-rook pawn on the sixth rank.
Time in Anand’s favour
All this while, time slowly turned in Anand’s favour. With Carlsen taking time to find the precise continuation, in fact he took 32 minutes to play the 17th move and a total of 45 minutes to advance from Move 12 to 27. All this while, Anand was unrelenting.
By the time Carlsen played his 28th move, he was left with under six minutes for 12 more moves to complete the stipulated 40 in two hours. The equation changed to 12 moves in under two minutes for Carlsen with Anand still having 36 minutes to plan the ‘kill’.
With the World champion having to deal with a tenacious challenger and the ticking clock, errors crept in. Carlsen traded his rook for a bishop in order to elude Anand’s grasp but in vain.
Like Carlsen on Sunday, it was Anand’s turn to get his two rooks and the queen in one file before landing the knockout punch. When Carlsen gave up on the 34th turn, he had only 13 seconds remaining to Anand’s 28:54!